Think retail is dead? Don’t tell the man behind this Pittsboro project.

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A property owner with nearly a whole town block in downtown Pittsboro has plans to transform the area into a retail and dining destination.

Greg Stafford has announced plans for SoCo in the heart of downtown Pittsboro. The project is situated at West Street and Sanford Road facing the historic courthouse.

The name SoCo stands for “South of the Courthouse.”

Stafford’s plan comes in three parts, not necessarily to be done in the following order:

  • Crews will demolish a thrift store on the corner to make way for a new outdoor plaza that will allow for outdoor dining year round, or at least as long as weather permits.
  • Astring of buildings behind that site will see new life with extensive interior and exterior renovations. This includes a space that is currently home to the Pittsboro Roadhouse restaurant, which plans to vacate that space this year.
  • An aging building to the south of those sites will be demolished and replaced by a new, 2-story restaurant space complete with rooftop dining.

Altogether, the project calls for around 20,000 square feet of mixed-use retail and dining space. The site is entitled, though site plans still need approval from the town.

Stafford said he hopes to be able to break ground by the start of next year, and in the meantime he is looking for the right businesses to attract customers to the new spot.

“We’re looking for two anchor tenants, and we’ll begin the project the moment one of those people signs up,” Stafford said. “For a project like this, you’re looking for as much attitude as it is acumen. Because we need somebody who will bring people to that corner in downtown Pittsboro.”

The architect on the project, Taylor Hobbs – owner of Hobbs Architects – said the new plan will bring a significant transformation to the Chatham County town.

“It’s the redevelopment of really a major portion of downtown Pittsboro,” Hobbs said. “He’s got about a block that he owns, which is pretty rare. As a percentage of downtown this is pretty big.”

Stafford said he plans to stay on with the project long term and to do what it will take to make it succeed – even if that means waiting a bit to see a profit. “It’s a long, long-term project. You can’t refurbish a downtown area and charge the rents that’ll make it pay for itself early,” Stafford said. “It’s a long-term labor of love.”

Raleigh-based Lynch Mykins is the structural engineer on the project; Durham-based Emerson Land Design is the landscape architect; and Raleigh-based Maple Engineering is providing plumbing, mechanical and electrical engineering services.

It’s not the only big project in the works for Pittsboro. Despite the pandemic, work continues on the massive Chatham Park development just north of town.

Original Article Source: Triangle Business Journal