By Jeremy Gerlach
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer
A week after construction began on Carrboro’s 300 East Main Street project, nearby businesses are preparing for its effect on their futures.
Some may eventually be incorporated into upcoming phases of the project itself, but the current phase, which includes a Hampton Inn and a five-story parking deck, will not displace any of the surrounding stores.
Still, nearby businesses like Surplus Sid’s at 309 East Main St. and Nice Price Books at 100 Boyd St. are grappling with the more immediate repercussions of the construction.
“It would be nice to hear myself think,” says Sid Keith, owner of Surplus Sid’s, the military surplus store across the street from the site. “All this noisy construction is going to be a pain to deal with – but it’s a good thing for the town.”
Keith, who says that his store has become somewhat of a tourism fixture in Carrboro, looks forward to the additional customers that it will bring.
“The whole reason I first moved over to this side of [East Main Street] was to get more parking,” he says. “Carrboro has always had a problem with parking ….Hopefully [this project] will bring more people by the store.”
Nice Price Books
For now, everything is stable for stores like Surplus Sid’s. But the future, according to 14-year Nice Price Books employee Peter Jones, is less clear.
“Vague,” he says. “That’s how I would describe what the plans for construction have been – we have no idea where it will stop or what they are going to need.”
“I assume they are going to have to use part of our property at some point,” Jones says. “With construction, you just don’t know how it’s going to affect things like the electrical wirings and sewage in the area.”
Keith says that he has heard similar concerns concerning Carrboro’s steps toward urbanization and what it means for small businesses like his.
“You can’t stand at my intersection [East Main and East Rosemary] at 4:30 [PM] with all the cars and pedestrians and tell me Carrboro is not a city,” he says. “We need to adapt to the times – businesses need to adapt.”
Fleet Feet Carrboro
“When we moved, we knew the timeline for the start of the project, and our plan [was] to be a part of it long term,” he says. “There are multiple phases to the project, and it will be a while until our building gets anything done to it, especially since we just did our “build-out” and so did Cat’s Cradle.”
While White does not know what the finished product will be, he says that consumers shouldn’t be worried about any stores getting displaced.
“It will be years before our actual space is affected,” says White.
White adds that he expects to see Carrboro as a whole become more of a destination spot because of the increased accessibility a parking deck provides.
Keith says that town inhabitants often overlook the amount of international visitors that come to Carrboro.
“I’ve got surplus from almost thirty nationalities,” he says. “I just shipped in some African tribal masks last week – I’m always appreciative of the interest that people from all over the place show in my store.”
Keith adds that the Hampton Inn and adjoining parking deck can only help send more of these international customers his way.
“More parking – it’s good for me, it’s good for Frank [Heath] over at Cat’s Cradle, it’s good for all the business here,” says Keith.
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