County, Pittsboro hold joint meeting

Posted 5/17/19

PITTSBORO— The Chatham County Board of Commissioners held a joint meeting with the Town of Pittsboro Board of Commissioners to receive updates on several on issues that effect the two bodies. This …

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County, Pittsboro hold joint meeting

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PITTSBORO— The Chatham County Board of Commissioners held a joint meeting with the Town of Pittsboro Board of Commissioners to receive updates on several on issues that effect the two bodies. This includes Pittsboro’s new town hall, improvements to the traffic circle, and updates on Chatham Park.

Pittsboro’s Town Hall

Pittsboro’s proposed new town hall is a collaborative effort between the town and the county. The two entities have an agreement for a 10-year lease permitting some county offices to be housed there. This agreement augments some of Pittsboro’s costs, while giving the county the time it needs for a redesign of its offices located south of the circle, a process that is estimated to take a little over 10 years.

Representatives of Hobbs Architects of Pittsboro, who are designing the town hall, presented an update for the what the 42,000 square-foot building may look like. The architect’s stated goal is to bridge two very different areas of town, commercial on Hillboro and residential to the west of the building, and incorporate a significant grade differential at the site.

In creating the design, Hobbs Architects wanted to be friendly with the neighbors and to reduce scale of the building to mitigate the change in scale were dealing with. The goal was to be as welcoming to the community as possible while ensuring the design “fits” Pittsboro.

The facility will be four stories on the Salisbury Street side and three stories on the Hank Street side to accommodate the grade. There will also be a two story parking deck that will have access from either Salisbury or Hank Street. There will also be a pedestrian plaza on the Salisbury Street side along with sidewalk upgrades around the building.

The building will have large overhangs and gabled roofs which architects note would be a viable location for solar panels if the board choose to move in that direction. The design also includes sun and shading devices to reduce energy use.

The first floor of the building, on the Salisbury Street side, will house the council chamber along with some Town of Pittsboro offices. The first floor will also have direct access to the parking deck. The second floor will also have access to the parking deck. The second floor will predominantly be used by the Chatham County Board of Elections. There will be a large voting room so that it can function as a voting site, but will be available for other uses outside of the election season.

A majority of the third floor will be dedicated to the Chatham County Health Department. The fourth floor will be dedicated to the remaining Town of Pittsboro offices including the town manager and mayor’s offices. There will also be a roof deck on the fourth floor which will likely provide some of the most impressive vistas for downtown.

Hobbs Architects estimate the design process will continue through the end of the year with the bidding and awarding of construction contracts occurring early in 2020. With an estimate of 15-18 months of construction, it is anticipated that the building will be complete in mid to late 2021. It is estimated that the project will $15-16 million.

Courthouse Traffic Circle Improvements

Improvements to Pittsboro’s traffic circle was identified as a priority during a visioning process started by downtown leadership in 2014, according to Bryan Gruesbeck, Pittsboro’s town manager. With the assistance of Chatham Park, Kimley-Horn was contracted to design a vision of downtown Pittsboro in order to compete as new development occurred in other areas of Pittsboro. Gruesbeck noted that traffic movements through the circle are very challenging and the goal was to allow downtown to compete in terms of traffic flow and pedestrian flow.

In June 2015, N.C. Dept. of Transportation contracted with Kimley-Horn to design based on the vision documents and to improve safety. They began surveying in fall of that year and began engaging with property owners around the circle early in 2016. Since then, plans have been reviewed, changed, and reviewed again, according to Gruesbeck. The project will constrict the amount of pavement which is currently around the circle in and effort to control and slow down traffic in the circle. There will also be visual elements that will help force drivers to slow down.

It’s estimated that the design will be complete this June with the bidding and awarding of contracts to occur in this fall. Prior to the start of the circle project, a project to bury utility lines will occur throughout the summer. This means the circle construction will likely begin in early 2020 with an estimated completion of October 2020. Construction will require road closures except local traffic, with detours sending large trucks to N.C. 87 to the U.S. 64 Bypass. Local traffic will have other detours using town streets.

The work will occur by quadrant allowing some flow of traffic during the process. However, several quadrants will require a complete closure of the circle. Representatives for NCDOT noted that there are discussions as to possibly to night work or weekend closures to allow contractors to “get in and get out.”

Chatham Park

Jeff Jones, Pittsboro’s planning director, provided an update from a staff perspective on the current state of Chatham Park’s development. Jones noted that staff has been reviewing plans and working through process mostly for what will be the North Village of Chatham Park, the area between East Street and Haw River.

The two major developments that are in process are Mosaic on Russet Run near the Bojangles’ on 15-501 and the Vineyards, a development located on Thompson Street. Jones noted that Chatham Park currently has 555 residential lots approved, generally in Vineyard. There are four residential projects within the Vineyard which will include cottages, town homes, and single family homes. Construction drawings for those projects are under review with staff, a process Jones believes should be complete in about a month.

The Vineyard will also include Thales Academy, a private K-12 school, is scheduled to open in 2021. Jones notes the elementary will open first with the high school opening at later date. Chatham Park is also working with town staff on a 10-acre park in the Vineyard.

Jones also provided an update on Mosaic, for which construction has already begun. Jones notes that staff is also reviewing construction drawings and finalizing those details as well. The preliminary plat for commercial was approved, and pending construction planning approval, they will review site plans for various buildings which will include a hotel, in-line shops, health club, medical office buildings, a theater, apartments, a senior living area and other businesses and buildings that Mosaic will be building.

Jones also discussed the road improvements under construction on U.S. 15-501 associated with Mosaic. This includes lights that have been installed but are not operable and other road improvements. Jones mentioned the new drive coming in to Northwood Drive that will hopefully help with traffic into and around the high school. Jones notes that all these road improvements must be complete before a certificate of occupancy will be issued.

Casey Mann can be reached at CaseyMann@Chathamnr.com.

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