A town-owned parking lot beside Open Eye Cafe is again the focus of talks between local government leaders about a future Southern Branch Library.
The 203 S. Greensboro St. lot is less than an acre in size but has enough room for a library with parking, officials said. It was considered briefly for a library in 2013, after the town bought the site, but the governments chose to explore a second site behind the 300 East Main development.
Talks with the developers of that site – at 120 Brewer Lane – fell through earlier this year.
Carrboro officials have not said whether the town might donate the Greensboro Street parking lot for a library, County Manager Bonnie Hammersley said.
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She and Carrboro Town Manager David Andrews also have been meeting with ArtsCenter and Kidzu officials about a proposed Carrboro Arts and Innovation Center, or CAIC.
Both governments got progress reports about the branch library this spring. The aldermen became concerned after learning the county’s interest in combining the library and the CAIC, for which there is no money and no details.
The county has set aside money to build the library in its capital improvements budget. Hammersley said county staff members are trying to share more information with the aldermen.
Four potential library sites were reviewed this summer, officials said.
Three were rejected: the soon-to-be-vacant St. Paul’s AME Zion Church property on Merritt Mill Road, a parking lot across from Armadillo Grill, and the former Fire and Hearth store and surrounding property at 311 E. Main St.
A county-owned site at 501-503 W. Franklin St. in Chapel Hill also was mentioned as a possible contender but has since been struck from the list.
Commissioner Penny Rich wanted to know where drivers would park if the library is built on the busy downtown lot. The lot also is prime real estate and could handle a multi-story building, she said.
“If we are going to be building a building, maybe we could build something additional and make some money renting it out,” Rich said. “I just don’t want to take this prime location and not utilize it to its fullest.”
The library project would provide parking for more than just library patrons, Hammersley said.
“There is a belief that we can somewhat partner for parking and actually create more parking than is there,” she said.
The library will be among the topics at the commissioners’ Oct. 15 joint meeting with the Carrboro aldermen, Commissioners Chairman Earl McKee said.
Any sites that advance to the next step will be subject to an in-depth analysis. The county has set aside money for the estimated $10,000 to $15,000 it would cost to study each site.