Orange County

Long-awaited library will break ground next year in a downtown Carrboro parking lot

Carrboro residents won’t have to go to Chapel Hill or Hillsborough to use the library in a few years. Construction is set to begin next fall on a new Southern Branch Library at 203 S. Greensboro St. in Carrboro.
Carrboro residents won’t have to go to Chapel Hill or Hillsborough to use the library in a few years. Construction is set to begin next fall on a new Southern Branch Library at 203 S. Greensboro St. in Carrboro. mschultz@newsobserver.com

Orange County residents living west of Chapel Hill won’t have to go as far to use the library in a few years.

The Carrboro Board of Aldermen and Orange County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved an agreement Tuesday night to share the construction costs and space in a 65,000-square-foot building at 203 S. Greensboro St. The town would house some of its government offices and possibly civic uses on the upper floors.

The project will replace an 88-space, town-owned parking lot on a little less than an acre next to Open Eye Cafe. The aldermen are exploring how to provide other downtown parking when construction on the long-awaited library begins next fall.

The county already has put $1.2 million toward the $15 million project, and has another nearly $6.4 million budgeted in the next two years. The town would pay half the cost of preparing the site and building common elements, including road improvements, roofs and elevators.

This has been an important issue for our community for many years.

Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle

Each government would pay for its share of the interior improvements and furnishings.

The county’s next step is to approve two preferred designers for the project. The town would make the final selection, and the designer could be working on the project within the next few weeks, county officials said.

While library patrons would be able to park on site – town staffers estimate up to 55 dedicated spaces – a decision has not been made about providing more public parking on the site or on nearby land. The public could use the library parking spaces after hours.

County Attorney John Roberts reassured the commissioners, who were concerned the town might charge for parking in the future, that the deal gives the county sole ownership and control over its spaces.

Commissioner Mia Burroughs, following a discussion about cost overruns for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools construction projects, also wanted to know how rising construction costs in the Triangle might affect the library project’s budget.

“We will design the building with the Town of Carrboro to the budget that we have,” County Manager Bonnie Hammersley said. “We won’t go out for bid if there’s an indication that it’s going to be over.”

The project is scheduled to open in fall 2019.

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb

Elizabeth Friend: efriend.email@gmail.com

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