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Downtown Pittsboro transformation

By Allen Baddour
Posted Thursday, March 8, 2007

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Pittsboro, NC - The former car dealership building has become a troubling spot in downtown Pittsboro. I certainly acknowledge that these things can happen, and are more likely to occur when an owner ceases an "old use" that probably wouldn't be allowed under today's zoning (not that I've checked). One can certainly point to individual parcels that are problematic, and also to specific properties that have been well developed or re-developed.

But as downtown Pittsboro transforms, and it will, the question in my mind is -- how will it transform? Will we rely on individual landowners to do the right thing, to create that patchwork quilt that in time becomes our old favorite? Or should we, the citizens of Pittsboro, create a vision - and lead that vision?

I am not advocating that the government control how any specific piece of property is developed. Instead, I suggest that an overarching plan, that takes into account economic development, unique attractions, culture, walkability, nightlife, light industry, recreation, government facilities, and ultimately, the overall health and sustainabililty of our downtown, will GUIDE and SHAPE Pittsboro.

If a vision is properly created, with citizen input and oversight, and then Pittsboro and Chatham are able to overlay a mix of grants, low interest loans, zoning concessions, and tax incentives and dis-incentives, we can encourage private investment in our vision.

I, for one, am not satisfied with simply crossing my fingers and hoping places like the General Store, S&Ts, Beggars and Choosers, Biolex, and Chatham Marketplace will go on existing forever, and that people like Chatham resident Robert Poitras will continue to open places like the Carolina Brewery (coming soon!).

We must do more.

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