Shoppers in Holly Springs usually head out to the N.C. 55 bypass, where big-box stores and parking spaces are abundant.
But soon, they might be able to go downtown, park in a new deck and stroll through local boutiques and restaurants.
Holly Springs recently signed on to a public-private partnership that will bring a new row of downtown shops to South Main Street near town hall. The plan calls for retail space on the ground floor, offices and apartments above and a parking deck around back.
A group of investors called 242 South Main LLC has agreed to build a 45,000-square-foot commercial building with a minimum of 10,000 square feet of retail space.
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Under a plan approved this month by the Town Council, Holly Springs will reimburse a portion of the project’s development fees and pay for a new 180-space parking deck.
It’s unclear when construction will start.
Like many Wake County towns, Holly Springs wants to rejuvenate its downtown. For that happen, new construction is crucial, said Irena Krstanovic, director of economic development.
“Our biggest struggle has been lack of existing buildings,” she said. “We simply don’t have much to renovate.”
As part of the project, the town will extend Rogers Road across Main Street as an access point for the parking deck.
“This is a huge, big deal,” Mayor Dick Sears said. “We have been working on a project for this location now for about six years.”
One of the challenges has been working out a deal with landowners at the southwest corner of Main and Ballentine streets. The parking deck, which the town will own and operate, will take up a small part of their properties.
“If the economy goes south and the developer decides not to build the building, we aren’t out any money,” Town Attorney John Schifano said at the June 6 council meeting. “Just a lot of time and effort.”
Another new downtown building is expected to be announced later this year, Sears said. He pointed to other Wake towns that have taken on similar efforts.
“In all truth, Apex has done a great job with their downtown, and (Fuquay-Varina) has done a pretty good job, too,” he said. “Our advantage is we get to start fresh.”
Holly Springs’ situation more closely resembles that of Morrisville, which is looking for a developer to build a mixed-use Town Center district almost entirely from scratch.
It will also have to draw customers away from a nearby collection of major retailers – Park West Village – that is surrounded by parking lots and functions as Morrisville’s de facto commercial center.
Chuck Simmons, Holly Springs’ town manager, said two downtown businesses have already expressed interest in the new project.
“They have been very successful in downtown Holly Springs, but they’ve run out of space,” he said. “This project is meeting a need for our existing businesses and providing them with an opportunity to stay downtown.”
Gargan: 919-829-4807; @hgargan