Published: Feb 16, 2013 04:15 PM
Modified: Feb 18, 2013 11:29 AM
CARY - Downtown developers have stumbled on a new challenge: They dont have enough water pressure to build the multi-level buildings that town leaders envision.
Boosting local water pressure could add $1 million to the price tag of The Mayton Inn, a high-class hotel proposed for downtown Cary. And the same problem may affect the rest of the opportunity site, a block of Academy Street where the town hopes for dense mixed-use projects and parkland.
One of the neighbors has told me that even on his second-story house, the water pressure for a shower is uncomfortably low, said Colin Crossman, one of the owners of the proposed three-story, 45-room hotel.
Low water pressure is a common problem for tall buildings. Typically, developers would foot the bill for such upgrades, but the local government for the first time may tackle the problem itself.
To encourage downtown development, the town now has put up to $25,000 into early planning for a one-of-a-kind public works project to improve water pressure.
Downtown is one of the highest elevations that we have, said Tim Bailey, engineering director for Cary. You get pressure problems, especially on upper floors.
The effort begins with a feasibility study that could cost up to $25,000, approved by the Cary Town Council on Wednesday. For its money, the town will learn about the potential forms and the price tag of a system that could boost water pressure on some or all of the opportunity site, which at 13 acres is a fraction of downtown Cary.
By comparison, each individual developer would pay thousands of dollars to fix the problem without Carys help, according to town staff.
Crossman said a water-pressure fix would cost more than $750,000 on top of the The Mayton Inns estimated $10 million budget.
Its uncertain whether the extra plumbing costs would be a deal breaker for The Mayton Inn, but Crossman said the costs would be a big deal for some downtown developers.
Why would you want to buy in downtown for a reasonable but high price, and have to put in $500,000 to a million dollars or more in pumps? he asked.
With the budget for the study set aside, the town now will look for a consultant to complete the preliminary work. Staff have not made an estimate on the potential cost of an area-wide pressure-boosting project.If were looking at master planning the site instead of developing it piecemeal, were kind of going for a more holistic approach, said Councilman Don Frantz.
Even among the council, many questions remain about the future of the downtown site. The area was planned originally as a large park, but recent visions presented to the Town Council have replaced the blocks outer rim with potential development.
The council has yet to approve a final area plan.