There is so a downtown Cary. No, its not exactly New York. OK, some would say its not Apex. But, by golly, around Academy Street and Harrison and Chatham Avenues, there is a downtown. Somewhere. We think.
Ed Gawf, Carys downtown development manager since 2011, is blunt about Carys missing hub. Were a great series of subdivisions, he says, without a downtown.
His opinion is shared by many loyal Cary residents who love the towns suburban parks and other amenities, but dont get downtown, or to whatever they call downtown, much. Town planners now are in the process of changing that with plans to spend millions of dollars. They want to create a downtown with a nice park and revamped roads brimming with new restaurants and nightlife. With that vision, Cary joins a trend in which towns and cities all over the country are focusing on improving their core as a defining center.
Certainly theres good potential in the place that is no longer a Raleigh bedroom community or a crossroads. SAS and suburbs saw to that. Check the charts measuring Carys growth over the last 25 or 30 years and youll see the population is around 140,000 and growing. With numbers like that, and with many residents with good incomes looking for entertainment and nice places to eat and play, Carys leaders rightly figure, why let them go to Raleigh or Durham or Apex or Morrisville, for that matter?
Its a good question and it needs an inventive answer. There may be some longtime Cary residents who liked the town the way it was when the population was under 10,000 (and there are lots of people who can remember those days) but those days arent coming back, and a good downtown can help a town or city identify itself. And as Raleighs revitalization has shown, it also can be fun.