“That means more sales. And also we get to meet new people and not just the same faces every time,” she said.
Just a short drive away sits a master development that will feature businesses and more than 22,000 homes and rental units called Chatham Park.
“A lot of people that are moving here are from a small town or had a diner like this. So it makes them feel at home,” said Virlie’s Grill owner Kain Whitaker. “Which is good because we like regulars and we hope they come back. But at some point, if you get too many people, the small town feel kind of goes away.”
Whitaker purchased Virlie’s in January but has long been concerned about how quickly the town is changing and his perceived lack of planning is taking place to support that growth.
“Being able to get water and sewer. Being able to find parking downtown,” said Whitaker, and, “Just to help things flow in downtown and it not be a headache.”
Whitaker said customers will drive by his downtown grill and decide to go elsewhere if there is no parking. He’d like to see the addition of a parking garage downtown.
Heather Johnson, the owner of Pittsboro Print Plus, agrees the town’s water utility has its challenges.
“We’ve known about the water issue before Chatham Park,” said Johnson. “This is an opportunity for Pittsboro to thrive. We shouldn’t look at it as a scary thing. It’s an opportunity.”
However, community opinion is split on what the new development will bring to Pittsboro.
“We think that downtown Pittsboro is going to continue to be a haven for the residents who are coming to more modern spaces but want to have the small-town charm,” said Johnson. “We want to be their downtown and that’s what we are all working on together.”
“(People) move here for a small, quaint kind of town,” Whitaker added. “But then they come and they want this and this and this in their backyard … I say those places are only 20-25 minutes from us. I’d rather drive to the mall there instead of having the mall in my backyard.”
“While change is hard and I must admit it was a little tough to see at first,” quipped Johnson, “this is how our businesses and our families are going to thrive and stay in place here.”
A representative for Chatham Park development said renderings for a new planned rental community are not yet available.
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