The town’s staff has begun the process of working with consultants to identify potential mixed-use projects and involve residents in rejuvenating downtown.
Town Manager Adam Mitchell presented a timeline to the board of commissioners Tuesday of the steps that have been taken in the partnership with the UNC School of Government’s Development Finance Initiative.
The town approved the partnership in February, making Fuquay-Varina one of 57 towns around the state to work with DFI. In November, DFI conducted a downtown market analysis that showed a market for new retail, residential and office growth.
According to the preliminary timeline discussed Tuesday, Fuquay-Varina is beginning to “engage downtown stakeholders and community” members about potential commercial-residential mixed-use projects downtown.
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Further market analysis based on that input is expected to take place in July. The town will work through July 2017 to obtain site control of the areas it ultimately decides to develop.
Mitchell told the board that DFI consultants had recommended a budget of $300,000 for pre-development analysis. No vote was taken on the budget for the analysis, and staff said the costs would be considered for the 2016-17 budget.
Mitchell said the timeline has the town projects out for bid by August of 2017, but that the staff hopes to expedite the process.
“We’ll move this up if possible, as our focus on the downtown is strong, and we want to take advantage of a good market climate,” Mitchell said.
The DFI’s work to date with Fuquay-Varina has included the suggestion that one of the town’s main downtown priorities ought to be pedestrian connectivity.
Tuesday, the board appropriated $46,000 for 1,200 feet of sidewalk along the south side of North Main Street, which would connect existing sidewalks and provide for a contiguous route to the Harris Teeter grocery store from surrounding residential properties.
Commissioner Jason Wunsch appeared pleased with the project, which he said had been proposed at the board’s retreat earlier in the year.
“Any time we can improve connectivity, we encourage a healthier community,” he said.
However, the goal of pedestrian connectivity encountered tension with the board’s desire for a regional library at its meeting two weeks ago. Then, the board endorsed a resolution to put a new Wake County community library off Judd Parkway, more than a mile from downtown. The board previously had said it would like the new library to remain downtown, where the current library is occupied.
Commissioner Marilyn Gardner was the only commissioner who voted against the resolution for the new library site.
In other business:
▪ Commissioners unanimously approved $173,639 for construction of new restroom facilities at the town’s Splash Pad water park ahead of the summer’s busy period. Mitchell told the board that the water park, which opened last summer, is averaging around 700 daily visitors. Current restroom facilities are inadequate to meet expected demand as that number ticks up along with the thermometer. The restrooms also would also be available to other patrons of South Park, where the Splash Pad is located.
▪ The board, at the town staff’s request, voted to continue a public hearing on the annexation of a 57-acre property for development along Mims Road. Mitchell said he hoped to have a water service agreement with Harnett County hammered out by the board’s April 4 meeting.
A man who said he lives on Bramble Lane, which is adjacent to the site, spoke in opposition to the annexation. He said a traffic study should be conducted to assess the impact of an additional 60 homes along Mims Road.
Mayor John Byrne said because Mims Road is under the control of the state Department of Transportation, it would be up to that agency to perform a traffic impact study, though he suspected a development of this size might trigger one.
Gargan: 919-460-2604; @hgargan