Wake County

New downtown Cary library is expected to open in fall 2019

A 31,000-square-foot library is expected to open in downtown Cary in the fall of 2019.
A 31,000-square-foot library is expected to open in downtown Cary in the fall of 2019.

It will cost nearly $2 million more than expected to build a new library and parking deck in downtown Cary.

Wake County commissioners on Monday approved a construction contract for the $29 million project. Wake is paying $15.1 million and Cary is paying $14 million for the library and a 600-space parking deck at the corner of Walnut Street and Kildaire Farm Road, across from the Cary Arts Center.

Construction bids came in about $2.5 million over budget, but $600,000 was trimmed from the project. The remaining shortfall will be covered from bond money that had been set aside for a proposed library in North Hills in Raleigh.

“We’re really excited to see this move on,” said Mark Forestieri, Wake’s director of facilities design and construction. “This is a major project for us and the town of Cary.”

A shortage in skilled labor, including masonry, plumbing and electrical work, contributed to the higher-than-expected cost, according to county staff. There’s also plenty of competition to hire builders who are busy with schools, universities and town projects. Natural disasters that occurred in 2017 are also a factor.

The plan for a new library in downtown Cary features large windows to bring in natural light. Legistar

The two-story, 31,000-square-foot library planned for Cary features large windows, a plaza and public restrooms that can be accessed by patrons of the Downtown Park and a nearby public performing space.

A pedestrian bridge will connect the parking deck to the library, and Cary is reserving space around the parking deck for potential private development.

As a result, the previously planned “firefly effect” concept for deck art has been cut, but there will be other opportunities for public art.

The Cary Town Council is expected to approve the construction contract Thursday. Construction of the library could begin as soon as April followed by the parking deck this summer. Both would be complete in fall 2019.

A library is the latest effort to help revitalize downtown Cary. The town opened Downtown Park last spring, and the area is home to The Mayton Inn, a boutique hotel.

A 31,000-square-foot library is expected to open in downtown Cary in the fall of 2019. Legistar

“I am particularly pleased to see this project come up for approval,” said Wake County Commissioner Erv Portman. “I served on the Cary Town Council back at the time the decision was made to save the old Cary High School, which is directly across the street from this. This is a point of real history for Cary and it really completes a lot of the vision work with the high school, the fountain, the Mayton Inn. This is a real revitalization for the town of Cary.”

North Hills library

North Hills was supposed to get a library as part of a $45 million bond referendum approved by voters in 2007. The area is expected to see a population increase of 77 percent in the coming years.

With rising property prices and scarce land, it’s been tough for the county to find available space for a North Hills library branch at an affordable cost, said Jessica Holmes, chairwoman of the commissioners.

“We have a need for the funds that will benefit the public sooner rather than later,” she said. “Unfortunately because North Hills has become so popular, and it’s a benefit that the area has become so dense, but it also means the price of land in that area is getting to a point where it exceeds the county’s ability to pay for and compete with private developers.”

Commissioners said North Hills might eventually get a library, but it would probably be in a leased space.