Citizens Invited to Learn About Downtown Catalyst Project: Wednesday, June 17 at 9:00 a.m. or 5:00 p.m.

?Citizens are invited to two identical public information sessions on the Downtown Catalyst Project on Wednesday, June 17 at Davidson Town Hall: one is from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. and the other is from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.  We’ll start with a brief presentation of the project (15-20 minutes) to share the history, timeline, and what we’ve heard from the public so far.  We’ll then share two options that the consultants and architects have created for this site: one that retains Davidson Town Hall in the plan, and one that calls for razing it. Citizens will see a 3D model of the potential changes to the site.

The possibility of adding shops, restaurants, offices, and residences along the west side of Main Street in front of town hall and on the town-owned land on Jackson Street is being studied by the Development Finance Initiative (DFI), a program of the UNC School of Government.  Their team is providing specialized finance and development expertise to the Town of Davidson to determine the potential for a partnership to develop the area.  It’s called the “Downtown Catalyst Project” for its capacity to connect the North and South Main retail districts, further enliven downtown, and invigorate development on South Main Street. 


Why is the town considering this project?  At first, our historic downtown Main Street was our only retail area, then the South Main area developed, and then in the early 2000s, development began at the Circles @ 30, based on plans that date back to the 1980s.  With the retail, office, and restaurant space we currently have in town, we are at a 98% occupancy rate, with no room for growth.  Our citizen surveys show that residents want more shopping and employment opportunities in town.

Our planning principles mandate placing buildings up close to the street with parking behind, but the configuration of Davidson Town Hall and its parking lots does not adhere to this principle.  We believe we should conform. 

Our 2010 comprehensive plan, with over 150 citizens’ input, calls for a “better mix of appropriate commercial uses downtown,” “a viable economy that is diverse and sustainable,” and “jobs for residents of Davidson.”  The comprehensive plan also designates downtown as a mixed-use node, and it connects the South Main commercial district to the historic “postcard” area of Main Street. Currently, we have a gap from town hall to Catawba Avenue, so pedestrians typically don’t walk to South Main. One of our goals is to bridge this gap. Potential solutions include active, pedestrian-scaled building frontage and public spaces to draw people down the street.  Market demand analysis shows we can support more retail, office, and residential space downtown.  We also recognize there is a need for more parking downtown and would like to address that issue through this project. 

After reporting to the board of commissioners last October and December and incorporating their input into the subsequent feasibility analysis, public information sessions in February, and meetings with the consultants and architects in May, the DFI team will return to Davidson on June 17 to share the latest plans and get feedback from citizens. They will then develop a preliminary program and pro forma, evaluate options for financing and structuring a partnership, develop preliminary building renderings, and facilitate public feedback. 

“We really want to hear from our citizens based on the latest plans,” said Economic Development Manager Kim Fleming. “We feel these plans meet our commercial, retail, residential, and parking needs, but are we meeting the other needs of our citizens? For instance, we know our citizens want public space outdoors and public meeting space. Are those needs being met? What else should we consider?” Please attend one of the public information sessions, so we can hear from you.

If you are unable to attend one of these sessions, we’d still like to hear from you. Please contact Economic Development Manager Kim Fleming at kfleming@townofdavidson.org or 704-940-9622 or fill out a form at town hall.

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