Weaver Street Market keeps hope

A Board of Adjustment vote against a Gateway Center location hasn't stemmed interest

Staff WriterJanuary 17, 2006 

Weaver Street Market remains enthusiastic about opening a grocery and cafe in Hillsborough and still has its eye on the Gateway Center, despite a negative vote on that proposal last week.

"We still think it's a good fit and are hopeful that something's going to work out there," General Manager Ruffin Slater said.

The co-op grocery has the full support of the Hillsborough/ Orange County Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Tom Stevens.

All three said Monday that they have been inundated with e-mail and phone calls from residents concerned with the Board of Adjustment vote that denied proposed changes that would have put the market on Churton Street.

Two of the five board members decided that such a grocery would add too much traffic on Churton Street.

The three-story Gateway Center is a brick mill-style building that was approved to have a bank and restaurant on the first floor, office space on the second and condominiums on the third floor.

Developer George Horton and Summit Consulting Engineers had worked with the market to create a narrower building with more lawn space to accommodate the market on the first floor instead of a bank and restaurant.

Since Wednesday's vote, Stevens said he had received more than 50 phone calls and e-mail messages from residents telling him they were upset by the decision.

"It's clear that citizens would like to see us find a way to see this work," said Stevens, adding that the market would help Hillsborough grow while still maintaining downtown charm and community.

Robbin Taylor-Hall, president of the chamber, said downtown businesses are expecting the market to attract more shoppers.

"I think it would act as an anchor for Hillsborough," Taylor-Hall said. "They would come for Weaver Street, then meander around downtown."

Town Attorney Bob Hornik said after the vote last week that the developer has two options -- Superior Court or submitting a new application.

Slater said the market is waiting for Horton to decide what to do. Horton could not be reached for comment late Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile Stevens has asked Hornik and other town staff to gather information on how the Town Board can help, such as doing away with any waiting period for resubmitting an application.

Weaver Street Market already owns another site in the town, the old Southern States building on West Margaret Lane.

But the market had not developed plans for that site before it was approached by Horton and isn't turning to that site now, Slater said.

"All of our energy now is going into the Gateway site. Judging from the response and some of the potential next steps, there's still further options to pursue with that site. So it's not worth trying to pursue anything else," Slater said.

Staff writer Cheryl Johnston Sadgrove can be reached at 932-2005 or cheryl.johnston@newsobserver.com.

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