Local News

Homeowner: Cary Wants My Land for Performing Arts Center

Posted September 16, 2007 8:08 p.m. EDT
Updated September 17, 2007 7:24 a.m. EDT

— Marilyn and Marvin Goldman have spent the past 11 years living in a downtown Cary condo, but their home might be in jeopardy.

The town of Cary wants to build a performing arts center and a parking deck at the northeast corner of Dry Avenue and Academy Street. The problem is, the Goldman's home and 18 other properties are in the way.

“They’re going to bulldoze this,” Marilyn said. "It’s not my house they want. It’s my land they want.”

Buying the necessary properties could cost the town $8 million. The 650-space parking deck would cost $15 million. Designing and constructing the 100,000-square-foot performing arts center would cost $73.5 million.

The center would include a 1,200-seat auditorium for theater, dance and music shows.

“It takes a lot of money to create amenities citizens want,” said Cary Council Member Jennifer Robinson. “What we really see is that an investment in the center for the arts will spur private investment, such as new businesses and new restaurants. As a result, we'll see a much greater quality of life in downtown Cary.”

Robinson is the chairwoman of the Cary Community Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to raising money for large-scale projects to improve life in Cary. The foundation plans to start fund-raising for the performing arts center later this year, she said.

Fellow Cary Council Member Nels Roseland said he thinks the burden will still end up on taxpayers.

“In my opinion, it’s a waste of taxpayers’ money to duplicate something folks can access 15 minutes away in Raleigh,” he said. "Private sector efforts are laudable, but the scope of that fund-raising and targets that would be needed are simply not realistic nor have ever been achieved in Cary.”

Cary town leaders said it could be anywhere from four to 10 years before the performing arts center could become a reality. For the people who live and work in the area, that could mean years of worry.

“I feel as though there is a dark, gray cloud over my head,” Marilyn said.

The town made the Goldmans an offer, but they said no thanks.

“I'm not trying to extort money from the town. I just want them to give us an amount of money we can replace our house with if we have to move," Marilyn said.

Town leaders would not say what will happen to homeowners who refuse to sell. Robinson said the town is approaching homeowners carefully and deliberately.

"It's a matter of going to find the fair value of the property and making sure we're a good neighbor," she said.