Revitalization project to transform part of downtown Burlington

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BURLINGTON, N.C. -- When Stephanie Love moved to Burlington, she looked for a place to live downtown and was disappointed when the closest place she could find was several minutes away from Divine Moment Tattooing, a shop she manages on West Front Street.

"If I could rent an apartment upstairs from here I would do it in a heartbeat," said Love.

Burlington city planners hope that's an option soon. They're excited about a new revitalization project that will transform the 100 block of East Front Street.

“They're going to have a really nice restaurant on that site,” said Amy Nelson, planning director for the City of Burlington. “There's going to be spaces for office and retail on the ground floor.”

The Core Properties is renovating several addresses on Front Street and turning the empty buildings into mixed-use properties, meaning businesses and apartments can split the same address.

The project is expected to have a $1.5 million impact on the city.

"Once you have residents living downtown, that's your key to getting other businesses to come in," said Nelson.

Nelson said she's seen mixed-use developments help other bigger cities like Greensboro and Winston-Salem. She doesn't believe adopting the same blue print will take anything away from Burlington.

People like Love agree.

“We have a different mesh of cultures that are all tied together here and it’s becoming a melting pot of all different kinds of people," said Love.

Burlington already has a several outdoor concerts every summer that draw people like Clair Coffer downtown.

She'd like to see the city adopt some of the changes she's seen in bigger cities.

"There's lots of stuff for the kids to do, lots of stuff for the adults to do," said of Chapel Hill's downtown area.

Though Coffer supports growth through mixed-use developments she is worried about one thing.

"They would definitely have to open up more parking spaces for the public," said Coffer.

Nelson said the idea that there isn't enough parking in Burlington is a misconception. She recommends a 2011 parking study conducted for the City of Burlington that is available online.

“We really do, according to the study anyway, have a plentiful supply of parking and I don't think that's a huge issue,” said Nelson.

The city would like to hear the public’s thoughts about mixed-use properties or any kind of change. It’s hosting a community meeting designed to gather ideas for the city’s master plan. That meeting will be held Thursday, May 8 from 7 to 9 p.m., at the Kernodle Senior Center on South Mebane Street.

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