Residents will be able to borrow books, buy apple fritters the size of dinner plates and cross grocery shopping off their to-do lists in the same place in Carolina Beach if county officials approve the proposed budget for next year.
New Hanover County Public Library officials have chosen a 4,000-square-foot space in the Food Lion-anchored Snow's Cut Crossing shopping center to expand the town's library. The branch's current location, inside a building owned by the town at 300 Cape Fear Boulevard (shown below), is a little under 2,000 square feet.
If county officials give the go-ahead, the rent for the shopping center space would amount to about $6,000 a year, with a discount the first year to help offset the costs of retrofitting and renovating the space, said Harry Tuchmayer, county library director.
From 2000 to 2014, the number of people visiting the Carolina Beach library more than doubled, according to library records.
“It’s been phenomenal, the number of people who come through the doors,” said Cathy Wahnfried, a full-time library associate at the Carolina Beach branch, who started working there in 2001. She said she knows a lot of the library’s regular patrons by name, but visitors to the town, though not allowed to check out books, also come to use the facility’s computers.
Tuchmayer said among the reasons the library staff is excited about the potential new location at 1401 N. Lake Park Blvd. are the additional space, better accessibility and much more parking.
“We’ll have space in the library itself to conduct story time and children’s activities,” Tuchmayer said. “We don’t have any space to do that in the current location.”
The Carolina Beach library uses an older community building nearby for story time on Monday mornings, which can attract between 15 to 40 patrons, Wahnefried said.
“The other thing that the new location offers is that we’ll also have a small meeting and conference room that people could use for small groups of maybe 10 to 12 people,” Tuchmayer said. “It will also give us more space to allow people to study or bring their laptop and connect or use our public-access computers. I think it’s a win for a lot of different people.”
The Food Lion at Snow’s Cut Crossing is currently the only large-chain grocery store on the island. In addition to other retailers and restaurants, the center includes a Dollar General and a bakery called Wake N Bake, which serves coffee, doughnuts and fritters, that opened in fall 2014.
Nicholas Silivanch, partner and broker with Eastern Carolinas Commercial Real Estate, has been handling the leasing process for the landlord, while Bernadette Silivanch, vice president and broker with ECCRE, has been helping the library. Nicholas Silivanch said the library would be a good addition to the center.
“It's a draw. I think having Food Lion as an anchor draws a lot of people during the summer months. This is sort of a draw year-round as well. People always want to come to the library and read or enjoy the services the library offers,” Nicholas Silivanch said.
As for the library’s current location, the town has not yet made any definite plans, said Mayor Dan Wilcox, though in his personal opinion, the building would be well suited for an improved community center location.
“That's something council will have to discuss with staff and see what other ideas and options might be thrown out there, but that would be the first thing I'd want to look at,” he said Thursday. “I'm willing to look at any ideas council members, citizens, staff or anybody might have.”