HUNTERSVILLE – The unveiling of the first piece of an envisioned multi-phase downtown rejuvenation and the opening of a new recreational center were among the 2018 highlights in Huntersville.

The municipal additions took place while progress continued on a long-planned transportation and development project to revitalize the historic center of town and a new vision for the eastern edge of town came into focus.

Veterans Park

A general outline of a new downtown park was presented in the parks and recreation section of a $30 million bond package Huntersville voters approved in 2012. The basic concept for a gathering place near the railroad between Main Street and Maxwell Avenue called for an investment of up to $400,000.

As years passed and interest grew in the facility, the concept for Veterans Park at Main & Maxwell evolved. Local veterans organizations and civic clubs joined the effort and the end result became a combination of a tribute to military veterans and a new community events venue.

Opening day for the park – which includes a monument honoring all branches of U.S. military service, a performance stage with a repositioned railroad caboose as a backdrop and a festival lawn – was scheduled for Memorial Day, but heavy rain delayed the celebration.

A few weeks later – on Flag Day, June 14 – town officials and representatives from American Legion Post 321 hosted the grand opening of the $1.5 million park. In the following months, the park hosted evening concerts and community celebrations, and the monument served as the appropriate setting for the town’s Veterans Day services.

A piece of the future

During development of the park, construction was delayed for utility work related to the planned overhaul of the entire downtown area. In 2012, the biggest piece of the town’s bond package ($17 million-plus) was targeted for transportation improvements, and $10.5 million of that was earmarked for the long-pursued creation of an alternative north-south route through town.

In 2018, the initial phases of the Main Street Upgrade began. Linked to the town’s 2017 sale of the downtown 30-acre Anchor Mill site, which will become a mix of residential, retail and commercial space, the town initiated utility line improvements and began the multi-year process of securing right of way for the planned road improvements.

The project, as planned, would transform Main Street into a business corridor and N.C. 115 bypass through town. The project will create roundabouts with N.C. 115 north (near Church Street) and south (Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road) and transform Main Street into a traffic congestion mitigation option as well as a feeder street for the anticipated development planned downtown.

The main piece of the expected downtown development, Vermillion Village, remained in the planning stage in 2018. The project, anchored by a grocery store surrounded by retail space and assortment of residential units, is tied to the utility and roadway improvements planned in the Main Street area. The announcement of the grocery store expected to occupy the 78,000-square-foot centerpiece of the development should be made in the coming months.

New recreation center

In January, the town celebrated the opening of its first indoor recreation facility. The Huntersville Recreation Center, 11836 Verhoeff Drive, is a 24,000-square-foot facility adjacent to Huntersville Athletic Park and the Central Piedmont Community College campus.

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