Local News

Downtown merchants cautiously optimistic about parking options

07Segra Stadium 3Downtown Fayetteville business owners have high hopes for the impact of professional baseball on local commerce. Those Up & Coming Weekly have spoken with seem to agree Segra Stadium is a good thing for business. That, of course, was the hope of Fayetteville City Council when it decided to put together a $40 million business plan to build the ballpark and entertainment venue.

“In many ways, the stadium is delivering the audience, but it’s up to the business owners to entice attendees to come in the door,” said former Fayetteville Mayor Tony Chavonne. He knows the downtown market as well as anyone. Chavonne lives on Person Street in a house that would be thought of anywhere else as a twostoryrow house.

“Early business reports are somewhat mixed as we all try to figure it out,” Chavonne added. “There’s a lot of continued excitement right now with the new stadium. We expect that to die down some as people get into more of a routine.”

Merchants tend to be optimistic because of the new ballpark and the thousands of downtown visitors it has drawn. “We love the stadium and hope with time that more ballpark fans become downtown customers,” said merchant Molly Arnold. She and her husband have owned two downtown businesses for many years, including Rude Awakening Coffee House at 227 Hay St.

However, dozens of merchants showed up at City Hall earlier this month to complain that city government had made hasty decisions, which city manager Doug Hewett acknowledged need work. “We hope to come back with a larger and more comprehensive parking management program late in 2019 early in 2020,” he said at that meeting.

That’s months away, and Arnold suspects delays will be a problem. “We are hoping that City Council recognizes the need to also stop charging in (parking) lots, at the least,” she said.

Chavonne agreed, saying, “Many are avoiding the city paid parking lots and find abundant free parking in other parts of the city.”

Without saying so directly, Arnold suggested that merchants may have the answers. She said newcomers who come downtown for ballgames wonder about the police presence. “We hear that the regular blocking of Hay Street and the flashing blue lights is off-putting to people,” she said.

The city blocks off Hay Street between Ray Avenue and Pittman Street for pedestrians and stations police cars at each end. “I am still amazed with folks’ concerns on security,” Chavonne noted, recalling his eight years as mayor.

“We are encouraged” about the future, said Laura Laycock, store manager of Center City Gallery & Books at 112 Hay St. She said she has seen an increase in pedestrian traffic in recent weeks. The store closes at 6 p.m. on weekdays, but weekend afternoon games seem to generate traffic. Asked if owners Diane and Hank Parfitt have considered staying open later, Laycock said, “We’ve talked about it.”

Health department still has no director

06duane holderFormer Cumberland County Public health director Buck Wilson resigned nearly two years ago. At about the same time, county commissioners considered whether to consolidate human services agencies. While that process was ongoing, the county decided to suspend the recruitment of a health director. Assistant County Manager Duane Holder was named acting director to provide departmental leadership. Several months later, during the May 21 meeting, the board of commissioners voted 5-2 to retain the existing governance structure. The Board of Health then formed a search committee to resume recruitment of a health director and retained a consultant to find a permanent director. That was one year ago.

“Following an initial search, the committee decided to repost the position with a targeted marketing effort to reach potential candidates from communities across the country with similar demographics and health priorities,” Holder said. The search continues.

Hospital gets an “A”

Cape Fear Valley Medical Center was awarded an “A” from The Leapfrog Group’s spring 2019 Hospital Safety Grade. The designation recognizes Cape Fear Valley’s efforts to protect its patients from harm. The Leapfrog Group is a national nonprofit organization committed to improving health care quality and safety for consumers. It grades hospitals across the country based on their performance in preventing medical errors, injuries, accidents, infections and other harms to patients in their care.

“To be recognized nationally as an ‘A’ hospital is an accomplishment the whole community should take pride in,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group.

Developed under the guidance of a national expert panel, the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade uses 28 measurements of publicly available safety data to evaluate more than 2,600 U.S. acute-care hospitals twice a year. Cape Fear Valley Medical Center was awarded an “A” grade following a period a few years ago when safety data was not as flattering. For information and patient tips for staying safe in the hospital, visit hospitalsafetygrade.org.

The Baby Store is open again

The Cumberland County Health Department’s Baby Store has reopened for public health clients. The Baby Store is a prenatal health promotion program that aims to create healthy moms and healthy babies. Health Department clients can earn baby bucks by attending prenatal care appointments and participating in health education programs such as smoking cessation, childbirth, parenting and breastfeeding classes. Clients with children who visit the Women, Infants and Children program; Women’s Health Clinic; Family Planning Clinic; Child Health Clinic; Immunization Clinic; and many other programs for moms with newborns can also earn bucks.

These baby bucks can be used to purchase items such as diapers, baby wipes, clothing and more. Store hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“The Baby Store program helps expectant moms and families by aiding in the healthy development of their babies,” said interim health director Duane Holder. “This is one way we can help decrease the infant mortality rate and low birth weight percentages in Cumberland County.”

The Baby Store is made possible through a grant awarded by the North Carolina Office of Rural Health. The Baby Store has been open, when funding has been available, off and on since 2010. 

Local volunteer honored

Cumberland Disaster Recovery Coalition Secretary Diane Chandler has received the Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service in recognition of her contributions to the coalition’s recovery efforts following Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Al Foote, administrative officer for Medicaid Transportation and Disaster Coordination at the Cumberland County Department of Social Services, surprised Chandler with the award during CDRC’s May 14 meeting.

The Governor’s Volunteer Service Award honors the spirit of volunteerism by recognizing individuals, groups and businesses that make significant contributions to their communities through volunteer service.

“In the wake of Hurricane Matthew ... Diane’s detailed minutes have allowed the CDRC to maintain records of our rise from a small group to a nonprofit long-term recovery group and now to one of the most productive and successful LTRGs in the state,” Foote said.

Chandler joined the CDRC in 2011 shortly after tornadoes struck Cumberland County. The coalition was established as a result of the 2011 tornado disaster. For more information, or to find out how to become a volunteer, go to cdrcnc.org.

Local business changes hands

FASTSIGNS of Fayetteville, a locally owned and operated sign and graphics company, has a new owner. Vic Cannon, a resident of North Carolina since 1987 and of Fayetteville since last year, bought the business from the original owner. Cannon said he hopes to expand and further improve the high level of quality and customer service that the Fayetteville community has experienced in the past with the same team.

As a member of the Greater Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce and the Kiwanis Club, Cannon looks forward to continued involvement in his community as a new business owner.

“I have run many businesses for others, but I wanted a business of my own,” Cannon said. FASTSIGNS of Fayetteville is located at 2807 Raeford Rd.

Photo: Duane Holder

The new Prince Charles Hotel

06PrinceCharlesWhen built in 1925, the Hotel Prince Charles was downtown Fayetteville’s tallest building. It was a grand landmark like no other. But over the last 40 years, the structure deteriorated to the point that the fire department closed it down several years ago. In 2014, PCH Holdings LLC bought the hotel at auction for $200,000. The surrounding property was purchased for $2 million. Fayetteville native Jordan Jones is one of the owners and is serving as project manager of the company’s reconstruction of the interior of the building. It’s a family affair for Jones. His great, greatgrandfather, James A. Jones, built the hotel 94 years ago.

When North Carolina’s largest banks showed no interest in downtown Fayetteville investment opportunities, a local community bank said yes when asked to join in a long-term investment. Carter Bank and Trust Company is the major investor in the $18.3 million reconstruction project. “It was a pretty huge win for downtown,” Jones said. He added that over the last year the big banks have seen the commitments that the city of Fayetteville and PCH Holdings have made, and now consider the city “investable.”

Jones said the Prince Charles project was much more than a renovation. None of the existing interior walls still stand. One-bedroom units have about 650 square-feet. Apartment rentals from the second to the seventh floors range in price from an average of $1,200 for one-bedroom units to $1,700 for larger two-bedroom units. 

Two-bedroom apartments have two full baths. All apartments have washers and dryers in addition to kitchen appliances. There are 11 separate floor plans. A dozen or so of the 59 apartments overlook Segra Stadium. Not all the apartments are ready for occupancy, but Jones said it won’t be long. The former ballroom on the eighth floor has been leased to a firm with 3,300 square-feet of open office space. The original hardwood floors remain.

The 300-plus windows in the building represent a significant, unintended expense for the developers. The Historic Resources Commission is responsible for reviewing and approving all exterior changes in designated districts and to landmark properties. It required that the windows be repaired, not replaced. “We sent them to Florida to be fixed,” Jones said. Austin Historical Restorations of Orlando was paid $850,000 to preserve the window frames. Jones added that much of the original glass was used.

The apartment building’s first floor at ground level will feature two full-service restaurants. A high-end steakhouse is planned for the former lobby of the hotel. A pizzeria with 2,600 feet of open-air space is planned for the rear of the building near the baseball stadium entrance. And, the Coffee Scene with shops on Morganton Road and Fort Bragg will also have a location in the Prince Charles, just off Hay Street.

Tenants will have reserved parking spaces in the adjacent five-story parking garage. The city owns the building at a taxpayer cost so far of $16 million. PCH Holdings has put $2 million into the parking deck and has asked the city for another $1.5 million. It’s estimated that of the 482 spaces in the parking tower, 200 of them will be available to the public depending on time of day.

Celebrating Memorial Day

05FreedomMemorialFayetteville’s annual Memorial Day Ceremony at Freedom Memorial Park is set for Monday, May 27, at 11 a.m. Bleacher seating for 300 will be available, but the seats typically fill quickly. Attendees can also bring lawn chairs for seating. Parking is available at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum, 100 Bragg Blvd.; and the Medical Arts building, 101 Robeson St. A gateway to downtown, the park includes graceful monuments honoring military veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the global war on terrorism. The ceremony ensures the sacrifices of those who fought for our freedom are never forgotten.

The Cool Spring Downtown District is partnering with the ASOM Foundation in support of the 12th Annual Field of Honor. Since its inception in 2008, The North Carolina Field of Honor has been an annual tradition in downtown Fayetteville.

Through June 27, hundreds of flags fly on the parade ground between the ASOM at 100 Bragg Blvd. and the North Carolina Veterans Park. Each flag comes with its own story and displays a tag identifying both the person who sponsored the flag and the honoree. This display of heroism flies as a patriotic tribute to the strength and unity of Americans. It honors all who are currently serving, those who have served, and the men and women who have made the supreme sacrifice for our nation’s freedom.

Flags may be purchased to honor the memory of veterans or current service members. To sponsor a $35 Field of Honor Flag, visit the ASOM Gift Store.

May 25 is 4th Friday. Starting at 6 p.m. downtown, there will be big-band music at the Headquarters Library and the opening of the “Dance of Art in India” exhibit at Cape Fear Studios. Saturday, May 26, Spring Lake’s Memorial Day Tribute begins with a parade at 10 a.m. at Veterans Park at Ruth and Main streets. Soldiers from Fort Bragg will participate in the ceremony.

Monday, May 27, the U.S. Special Forces Command Memorial Day service is at 10 a.m., at Memorial Wall, United States Army Special Operations Command. 

Also on May 27, join the Fort Bragg Chapter of Wear Blue: Run to Remember at the Memorial Day event to be held at the Jordon Soccer Complex on Treetop Drive in Fayetteville. This event begins with a Circle of Remembrance ceremony, when the names of fallen service members are spoken aloud. Afterward, the group unites as a living memorial for the fallen service members with a self-paced run or walk.

Hope Mills has long paid tribute to fallen members of the military on Memorial Day. The tribute will take place May 27, at the war memorial located adjacent to the Hope Mills Recreation Center on Rockfish Road at 4 p.m. Several groups and organizations will take part in the ceremony, and the general public is invited to attend.

Bishop wins 9th District Republican Party primary

04DanBishopMecklenburg County State Sen. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., won the makeover 9th Congressional District Republican primary election. The May 14 special primary came three months after state election officials threw out the November 2018 election, which was marred by fraud allegations in Bladen and Robeson counties.

Half of Cumberland County is in the 9th District. Bishop will face Democrat Dan McCready and two third-party candidates Sept. 10 in what’s expected to be the nation’s most closely watched special election. The district has been without a member of the U.S. House of Representatives since the first of the year. A Republican has held the seat, which has changed over time, since the 1960s. Bishop defeated nine other Republican Party candidates.

“Dan McCready went through two elections without telling anyone where he stood on anything — that ends now,” Bishop told supporters.

In a statement, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fired back, noting Bishop was the architect of House Bill 2, the so-called “bathroom bill,” and heir to what it called Republican election fraud.

Bragg Boulevard intersection change

Construction of the new Rowan Street railroad bridges is resulting in a new traffic pattern west of the overpasses. Bragg Boulevard is being rerouted to intersect with Murchison Road and Rowan Street.

The change was made this month while construction of the roadway continues. Another new section of the roadway will redirect Murchison Road to make for a smoother transformation. The change cuts off a historic service station now being used as a used car lot. It was the only building in the vicinity preserved because of its historic significance.

City Manager Doug Hewett said the city hopes to acquire and restore the property. The old section of the boulevard between Rowan Street and the North Carolina Veterans Park will be converted into a cul-de-sac, Hewett said.

The $36 million project is an initiative of the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the Fayetteville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, which replaces the structurally obsolete bridge along NC 24-210 that passed over Hillsboro Street, the CSX Railroad and the Norfolk Southern Railroad in downtown Fayetteville. Construction is scheduled for completion in November.

New PWC electricity rates now in effect

Fayetteville Public Works Commission has implemented time-of-use rates for residential and small commercial electric customers. PWC says on its website that the new rates are in keeping with the way the utility purchases power from Duke Energy — at higher rates during peak hours, when consumers typically use more power. 

Rates for electricity used during off-peak hours will be 30% lower than during peak times. Peak hours vary depending on the time of year.

From April-October, they are from 3-7 p.m., weekdays. Winter peak hours between November and March are from 6-10 a.m., Monday through Friday.

PWC said its average residential customer uses 1,017 kilowatt hours of electricity each month; 21% during peak hours and 79% during off-peak hours. Customers can save money by adjusting their daily weekday routine and shifting more of their electrical use to the off-peak times of day.

PWC suggests customers use toaster ovens, crockpots and microwaves when cooking. They use less energy than the stove or oven. Always take care when cooking. It is the No. 1 cause of house fires in the United States.

Official I.D. cards are now available to everyone

North Carolina citizens whose driver’s licenses or permits are suspended or revoked can now receive state-issued identification cards from the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles. 

D.M.V. began the process this month of issuing identification cards to residents with revoked, suspended, canceled or disqualified driver’s licenses. The General Assembly passed the law during the 2018 session.

State-issued identification cards can be used as a form of photo identification. They do not authorize holders to drive. DMV will mail identification cards to individuals after the it receives the seized or surrendered licenses. There is no charge. The ID card issuance is not retroactive and applies to driver’s licenses that were surrendered starting May 1.

Fox bites mom and son

A rabid fix bit a local woman and her son last week. The State Public Health Lab in Raleigh confirmed the fox that bit two people May 13 has rabies. The incident occurred at a home on Christina Street off Cliffdale Road in Fayetteville. The victims were not identified by authorities.

Animal Control responded to the scene to investigate. Officers said a growling fox approached three adults sitting on the front porch of their home and bit a mother and son before another son removed the fox from the porch without being bitten.

Animal Control officers who responded were able to locate and secure the fox. Officials said the animal died while being transported to the Animal Control facility. The two victims sought treatment at the Cape Fear Valley Medical Center’s emergency room and are receiving post-rabies exposure treatment. This is the first case of rabies in Cumberland County in 2019.

Photo: Dan Bishop

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