Ed Clayton, current president of the Glenaire Resident Association, and long-time Cary resident gives his perspective on the new and upcoming developments close by in the Town of Cary that are making this an exciting time to become part of the Glenaire community.
In addition to the expansion and renovation projects underway on campus that will add 192 apartment homes and a variety of new dining, wellness and other amenities, the community happens to be ideally situated to allow residents easy access to Cary’s increasingly popular and attractive downtown.
Ed and his wife Ruth came to Cary in 1968. Then a town of just about 7,000 people, it was a bedroom community that served as a quiet place for area professionals to raise their families. Years earlier, Cary’s tiny business district was a convenient stop for weary travelers on their way to points farther north or south before old US 1 was rerouted. The town’s train station, however, is still a thriving Amtrak stop for three popular routes. The Carolinian runs between Charlotte and New York. The Piedmont connects Charlotte to Raleigh. And the Silver Star continues to run snowbirds from New York to Miami and back again.
Ed and Ruth raised their sons here and have seen the community grow. “Back then, Kildaire Farm was an active dairy in the vicinity of today’s Trader Joe’s,” Ed explains. But the town still has the same feel it had when they moved here 53 years ago. If anything, Cary has only gotten better.
Careful planning by the town’s leaders and an increasing population have transformed Cary into a destination all its own. The town saw its share of new shopping centers and neighborhoods as the population grew to more than 170,000, However, more recent growth has led to development of the downtown area, putting a number of interesting dining and shopping venues within a half-mile walk of Glenaire.
The goal has always been to maintain the town’s relaxed, but refined character. “There is intent to keep it feeling and looking like a small town,” says Ed. “Is it going to look different? Yes. But we’ll keep the flavor.”
Along with local shops, restaurants, cafes and craft breweries, downtown Cary boasts a boutique hotel, arts center, beautiful library, restored theater, train station and a surprising number of parks and greenways. “It’s a goldmine of things to do for Glenaire residents,” Ed says.
One of the most appealing downtown projects is the planned addition of a premier urban park. Designed to take up an entire block and encompass the existing library and fountain “it’s going put (other cities’ parks) to shame. There will be all kinds of water features, performance area, dog-walking areas — all sorts of stuff,” Ed continues.
In an article for Glenaire’s resident newsletter this past November, Ed outlined a number of other downtown projects, including:
“Surrounding the library parking deck will be ‘One Walnut,’ a mixed-use development with retail and office on the ground floors and apartments above. On East Chatham Street, the four-story ‘Chatham Walk’ building is already up and will feature 28 high-end apartments. Next door, ‘Urban Place’ is just starting construction and will include 28 condos. In the center of town, ‘Rogers Alley,’ across from The Cary Theater, will be a mixed-use development. And on the other end of the business district at the intersection of West Chatham Street and South Harrison Avenue, the multi-story ‘Jordan’ project will feature retail on the ground level and residential above.”
And in 2021, Cary has even more to attract Glenaire residents’ attention as the town celebrates its 150th anniversary on April 3. Those curious about the town’s history and plans for the future can learn more by visiting a special website the town created for its sesquicentennial year: Cary150.org.
“My advice as we watch Cary and Glenaire is this: hold on to your seat,” says Ed. “The best is yet to come!”