IFC Chooses Downtown Carrboro for FoodFirst Assistance Program | News

IFC Chooses Downtown Carrboro for FoodFirst Assistance Program


The IFC pantry at 100 West Main Street in Downtown Carrboro
  • The IFC pantry at 100 West Main Street in Downtown Carrboro
The twenty-one-member board of Inter-Faith Council for Social Service voted unanimously on Wednesday night to proceed with IFC's original plan to build a three-story building for a centralized food assistance program at 110 West Main Street in Carrboro.

By doing so, the board rejected the only other site chosen as a finalist by a search team that included local business owners. That site, less than half a mile away at 303 Jones Ferry Road, was once thought to have more buildable space than the property owned by IFC at 110 West Main.

It was also preferred by some local business owners, including those who signed a petition back in November, urging the town to move FoodFirst away from Downtown, so as not to attract loitering by the "chronically homeless."

Here's an excerpt from IFC's Thursday news release, explaining why 110 West Main still makes the cut, despite the controversy:

Buildable footprint, cost of construction, physical limitations (such as the onsite stream and resulting stream buffer requirements), access from Jones Ferry Road, environmental concerns remaining from a previous owner, public transportation service and input from the adjoining residential neighborhood were considered. Following its due diligence and balancing factors related to site appropriateness and program needs, IFC’s Board concluded 110 W. Main Street is more appropriate than 303 Jones Ferry Road for FoodFirst.
IFC Director Michael Reinke explained in more detail, in a Thursday morning talk with The INDY.

"In the course of our conversations with an architect, we learned that we could actually do more at 110 West Main Street than we initially thought," says Reinke. "Looking at transportation, 110 West Main Street has significantly better access to public transportation than 303 Jones Ferry Road. That was a significant factor, given that a significant portion of the people we serve are taking public transportation."

The central business district location itself was also a big reason, says Reinke. 

"The people we're serving, we thought — wow, these people would appreciate being in the central business district, where they have very close access to other goods and services," he says.

It's also important, he noted, that IFC already owns 110 West Main Street. Choosing 303 Jones Ferry would have required negotiations with the seller, and putting up about $600,000 with no immediate assurances from the town regarding permitting. 

"Then we'd be stuck, having purchased a $600,000 piece of land that we couldn't do anything with," says Reinke.

He adds that support from the Carrboro community played a big part in the decision. 

"It became clear that there was as least as much opposition for doing FoodFirst at 303 Jones Ferry Road as 110 West Main Street," says Reinke. "And, conversely, there were far fewer supporters."

The IFC will submit a rezoning petition to the Board of Aldermen sometime  between October and next March.

Correction: A previous version of this story included a reference to "$6,000" that should have been written as "$600,000." This has been fixed.

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