Academy Street in downtown Cary, North Carolina has received a 2018 Great Main Street in the Making Award from the American Planning Association North Carolina Chapter. As a winner in the Professional’s Category, Academy Street demonstrates the qualities of a great main street as a vibrant, distinctive destination that promotes organic gathering, street music, and economic development.
Today, this dynamic streetscape is representative of the larger goals for Cary’s downtown to create an engaging, pedestrian-friendly environment. Connected by wide sidewalks that feature intermittent seating, “outdoor rooms” provide unique gathering areas along the street and reinforce Academy Street’s sense of place, highlighting the beauty of urban outdoor space. Centered on a unified vision of a vibrant public space, the team developed a concept of interwoven design elements forming a path between the Arts District, Village, and Main Street. A variety of aesthetic and functional public art honors Cary’s artistic and musical history, and new electrical infrastructure better serves the many festivals hosted along Academy Street. Elevated by attention to detail in all aspects of engineering and design, Academy Street safely accommodates drivers, public transit, cyclists, and pedestrians in an environment focused on walkability and functionality for businesses and events.
Completed in the spring of 2017, this project involved extensive public outreach and community engagement, which has contributed to its positive reception and impact. The melding of tradition, rich cultural experiences, a smooth transit experience, and commercial destinations is a trademark of successful downtown revitalizations, and one that is embraced by the Cary citizens.
Eight communities in North Carolina have been recognized as Great Places as part of the 2018 APA-NC Great Places awards program. These communities represent some of the best planning efforts in North Carolina, and serve as models for visioning, partnerships, and collaboration. This is the seventh year that APA-NC has recognized Great Places.
About the Great Places in NC Awards Program
Great Places in North Carolina is an awards program created in 2012 to highlight North Carolina’s Great Places and the communities and people that have created them. North Carolina is full of amazing places that make this state a wonderful place to live, bring important money and jobs into the economy, and keep our communities thriving. This awards program offers a chance for everyone to celebrate together! Winning communities will be recognized at a public event in their community. Past winners have used their Great Place recognition for grant applications, economic development efforts, and public relations outreach.
APA-NC is an association of 1,400 professional and citizen planners working to preserve and create great places throughout North Carolina. The organization promotes equitable, healthy, and prosperous communities across North Carolina through professional planning leadership, advocacy, and education.