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The original item was published from 3/17/2022 11:52:00 AM to 3/17/2022 11:54:28 AM.

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Posted on: March 17, 2022

[ARCHIVED] Local governing boards approve new library and cultural center in Carrboro

Photo of Southern Branch library exterior

New public center to offer opportunities for education, arts and connection 

Separate votes by the Carrboro Town Council and the Orange County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, gave final approval to a new southern branch library and cultural center for Carrboro.

The $41.1 million joint project will be located at 203 S. Greensboro Street, an existing Carrboro municipal parking lot near the center of the town.

The library will serve residents in or near southern Orange County. The facility will also provide a permanent home for the Orange County Skills Development Center; Carrboro Recreation, Parks and Cultural Resources Department; WCOM Radio, the Virtual Justice Center; and performance/multipurpose uses.

The vote follows a long-term collaboration between Carrboro and Orange County, engagement with residents, boards and commissions, and design and planning work.

“We are thrilled to reach this milestone, and we look forward to the groundbreaking,” Mayor Damon Seils said. “This project is the result of a close partnership between Carrboro and Orange County and extensive public involvement over many years. We can all celebrate the role the project will play in promoting literacy, education, and cultural opportunities for the entire community."

The groundbreaking ceremony will be scheduled in May 2022.

“The library is more than a place of books,” said Renee Price, Chair of the Orange County Board of Commissioners (BOCC). “It’s a resource, and it’s more than just for children. It’s for people who don’t have all the amenities at home.”

Price credited the strong partnership with the Town of Carrboro with bringing the project to fruition. “It’s all of us working together for the betterment of our community,” she said. “It’s a place where we can equalize so many of our differences because it’s a place of meeting, of coming together. We need places where people can come together.”

Proceeding with the 203 Project will allow the County to provide much needed amenities for the surrounding Orange County and Carrboro community. The library and skills development center will enhance the opportunity to uplift and improve the lives of all who embrace and utilize these resources.

The March 15, 2022, approval followed discussions that came about when a construction estimate showed that the project was significantly over budget. Project managers attributed the escalation of construction costs to the unprecedented supply chain disruptions and labor shortages associated with the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic.

“We are excited to partner with the Town to expand existing library services in Carrboro,” said Erin Sapienza, interim director of the Orange County Public Library. “And once the Southern Branch is open, we look forward to working with other local community organizations to offer creative services and experiences for all county residents.”

The agreement between the Town and County calls for each government to contribute in the amounts of $18.9 million from Carrboro and $22.2 million from Orange County.

For more information, please visit

New Library and Cultural Center in Carrboro 

Development highlights

  • A 49,550-square-foot development, the largest public facility in Carrboro community history
  • Located at 203 S. Greensboro on a 0.8-acre site that is a town-owned parking lot
  • Three-story facility with a parking deck including 171 parking spaces
  • Construction to start in May 2022 and anticipated to last 19 months
  • Designed by Perkins & Will Architects
  • Construction by Barnhill Contracting Company
  • Energy efficiency and waste reduction features that result in a LEED Gold equivalency

With the following financial arrangement

  • The total project cost including design; construction; furnishings, fixtures and equipment; and contingency is $41,174,840.
  • The Town of Carrboro will contribute ­­­ $18.9 million. The Town will use debt financing to cover the majority of the project with $6.3 million from its cash reserves.
  • The Town of Carrboro is providing the land.
  • Orange County will contribute $22.2 million. In addition to debt financing for the majority of the project, the BOCC agreed to use $3 million from its cash reserves.
  • Carrboro and Orange County will cover their own costs for furniture, fixtures and equipment.
  • The first year of library operations could cost $537,670. Annual operating costs for the Carrboro’s portion of facility programming is estimated at $80,000.
  • The project has received an Orange County Community Climate Action Grant of $40,568 for solar and green roof features.
  • The project also has received a Duke Energy Smart Saver Custom Energy Efficiency Incentive in amount of $48,552. 

With community benefits, including 

  • Orange County Southern Branch Library
  • Orange County Skills Development Center
  • Carrboro Recreation, Parks and Cultural Resources Department
  • Additionally, the center will also house WCOM Radio, the Virtual Justice Center, and performance/multipurpose uses.
  • Opportunities for education, art, and connection. This building will be accessible to all individuals and will enhance the quality of life in our area.

With the following accessibility 

  • The current town-owned parking lot at 203 S. Greensboro St., across from Open Eye Café, currently has 88 parking spaces. Upon completion, the new facility will include a parking deck with 171 parking spaces.
  • The Town is acquiring additional parking leases to help ensure that there is no loss of parking during construction. These leases will be finalized, and lots improved before the start of construction.
  • The new center will be accessible from Chapel Hill Transit bus routes CW, F, and J routes, the Go Triangle 405 route, a soon-to-be-built sidewalk along S. Greensboro Street, and the Libba Cotten Bikeway.
  • The new center also will be near the recently announced home of The Arts Center on Roberson Street and the existing Carrboro Century Center at Greensboro and E. Main streets.

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