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Cary Planners Plan To Change Face Of Downtown Area

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CARY, N.C. — In downtown Cary, streets and sidewalks are showing their age, stuck in a design from the 1970s. Now, planners have a new design in mind, and the Town Council has approved nearly $4 million for the project.

"We just want to do a little facelift and give it a lift and make some improvements that the public can enjoy," said streetscape planner Juliet Andes.

The possibility of a facelift to the area is why Ellen Brotzman moved her business to a downtown address.

"When we looked at the downtown area, we thought it had some potential, but felt it was rundown in some areas and could use some sprucing up," said Brotzman.

In the plans are potted plants, decorative lighting, and wider sidewalks. The goal is to make downtown Cary a destination, marking it with roundabouts.

Cary leaders said what's really driving the new downtown design is public art. But that won't mean more sculptures. Rather, they plan to take what's already there and transform it into works of art.

Planners said building art would help build a cultural arts district. The first step will be converting Cary Elementary School into a community arts center.

"We expect that there will be a lot of instruction going on there -- hands-on, kids, adults, all ages -- and to have a small performance area there," said Parks and Recreation Director Mary Henderson.

The work could start late next year. The plan calls for redesigning a 15-block area in phases.

The estimated cost for the entire project is estimated at $20 million. Town leaders hope to fund it with public and private money.