Greg Stafford is ramping up the SoCo Pittsboro project

By Gene Galin

Pittsboro, NC – We talked to Greg Stafford about the current status of the SoCo Pittsboro near the historic county courthouse. He is planning to accelerate the process beginning this month. Meanwhile, the NC DOT plans to begin construction work on the Pittsboro traffic circle in the middle of town on January 11.

We did a video interview with Greg this past week and posted it on YouTube. A loose transcription of the interview is located below.

Gene Galin: Gene Galin here with the Chatham Journal and the Chatham Chatlist. I am with Mr. Greg Stafford. We’re down in Pittsboro right now by the courthouse. We talked to Greg back in October of 2020. Seems like a whole lot of time back, about what he’s doing with the SoCo Project. He said a lot of it’s going to kick off in January of 2021. Hey, folks, it is January 7. Greg, where are we with this? What is the SoCo project?

Greg Stafford: I’m standing in front of it. We’re going to be demolishing this building. It will go away. If you are in love with the building on the corner of the circle, you better come get a picture because it won’t be here in about two weeks. We’re going to take it down and where we stand is going to be an outdoor patio of about 6,000 square feet; where you sit, eat, drink, hang out. And if you look over here directly across the street, you see the signs laying down. The signs on the ground are what they’re going to stand up in about a week. And that is going to block traffic around the circle. That has nothing to do with me

Gene: All right, that’s a North Carolina DOT project. What are they doing around the circle?

Greg: They’re going to shrink the circle in. Replace a lot of the sidewalk and a lot of this asphalt mess. You’re going to have brick pavers, crosswalks will be put in and things like that. I’m going to try to spare myself the wrath of the people of Pittsboro. I have nothing to do with shutting down the road. That’s a different project. We are not shutting down the road to build these buildings behind us.

Gene: Okay, now the building behind you is the Second Bloom building. Is that right? Or was the Second Bloom building?

Greg: Correct. They moved down to the shopping center where the old Piggly Wiggly used to be.

Gene: All right, and I just want to let folks know that what’s what’s going to happen with this building?

Greg: The building’s going to be torn down. And the grade where we’re standing will be dropped about two feet, and then there will be a knee high wall around it. And that’s going to allow for the patio to sit at the ground level of the old Roadhouse building. And then you will walk in and out of that building at footpath level and be able to eat indoors or outdoors, and it will be a solid wall of glass behind us.

Gene: And the Second Bloom has been here for what? Two years? And in fact, you’ll notice that they put up a sign here. “Thank you for the Stafford family.” That’s Greg over there. For two great years, and they are moving to the location near Food Lion on the 12th, which is next week.

Greg: That’s correct.

Gene: So they had a good two years here, and you’re going to tear down this building. It’s just going to be an open open patio with you’re planning to have a stage or music venue out here too.

Greg: I’ll move right over here. I am standing where the stage will be. So you’ll be able to have live music on the circle facing to the old Roadhouse building.

Gene: Now one of the reasons with the narrowing of the circle, we noticed when we were talking, there was a lot of truck traffic. Is that going to continue to be the case? Or do you have any idea?

Greg: I personally don’t believe it’ll reduce the truck traffic. We have a similar traffic circle over by the community college. And the smaller circle doesn’t bother them. They just drive over the curb. So optimistically we hope the trucks will stop coming. I don’t think it’ll work. But time will tell.

Gene: Right? And now what’s the game plan for knocking down this building? When when are you specifically thinking about getting started?

Greg: We already have the. So what’s going to happen is as long as we’re in a situation where the power or the water and the gas are turned off, we’ll start on the 12th. But it really is just a practical matter when all the utilities get cut off.

Gene: And when they take it down. How many days is that going to take for them?

Greg: It’ll take a day.

Gene: Oh, really? Just one day?

Greg: Correct.

Gene: Okay, now we’re walking past the Second Bloom. We’re going past the Justice Motors. And I pronounced that correctly this time; Justice Motors building. You mentioned you’re going to be doing a lot of work here. You’re still looking for a tenant for this building. Is this correct?

Greg: That is correct.

Gene: Okay. And you’re hoping to find someone who’s going to put a eatery or restaurant in there or distillery or brewery or something food related.

Greg: Something cool that people will want to go to.

Gene: Okay. And you’re also redoing. We’re just going to walk down to block because the SoCo project is going to involve working from the corner to where we’re continuing to walk down, including the building right here where you got Business Services. That correct?

Bird’s eye view of the SoCo Pittsboro Project footprint (photo by Gene Galin)

Greg: That is correct. Heather Johnson of Chatham Business Services. And they’re temporarily going to move to the front of the old Roadhouse. And when they do that this patio behind us will actually go to just be one. One large patio of about 800 square feet, to service both locations. Both for the Mod and Other Sidebar and Chatham Business Services.

Gene: Alright, so The Mod is still staying here? Is that correct?

Greg: That’s correct. The Other Side bar here. And so this will be one patio level across the entire thing. And then you will step down with stairs here, and come on to this patio. And then as you continue heading south, in front of the old Republican Party headquarters, this will also be an entire outdoor seating area, and a rooftop bar.

Gene: All right now. You’re planning to totally demolish this building as well.

Greg: That’s correct. It is going to be demolished. But that’s actually not by choice. Our original plan was to keep it standing. And we were going to build on top of it, because I kind of liked the building. And the, I guess you call it brickwork and edging work across the top, we thought were really cool. However, the engineers told us that this foundation was insufficient for not just to go up on it, but to do any of the work with the glass we wanted to do. So we’re being forced to tear it down. That wasn’t a choice.

Gene: Alright. So, the Second Bloom building you’re playing and take down like January 12. Is that correct?

Greg: At the same time is when we’ll do this. I mean, if it happens, all of it is going to be determined by when they get the utilities disconnected. And they say that could take as much as a month. So we’ll see.

Gene: All right, so you can take down both buildings on the same day. And you’ve been told it will happen on in one day, right?

Greg: Well, one building will take one day, the other building will take a day, and then it’ll take a couple of days to haul off.

Gene: All right. So your schedule right now is sometime in January or when when the utilities are disconnected, to go ahead and get both these buildings demolished. But it sounds like the Second Bloom building is going to be the first one to come down,

Greg: That is correct.

Gene: Anything else that we got coming up with the SoCo project, in the next few months?

Greg: I think mostly, the thing that will be visible will be the tear down of the two buildings. And the first couple of months are going to be dedicated mostly to running the new utilities because we’re putting in storm water drains, which this area does not have. And we’re putting in all new sewer lines, all new water lines, all new gas lines. And the reason behind it is really everything is too small to service,modern restaurants. It was always a struggle when we’re adding grease traps to everything, so that there’ll be separate breezy waste disposal, which is something that you can be grandfathered in on. However, if you build new ones, it’s much better for the sewage treatment plant for Pittsboro.

Gene: Understood. Now, you’ve got. Who’s your architect for this project

Greg: Architects is Taylor Hobbs. And they’re local. They, they design the new courthouse that you can look over there and see it. And they’ve designed the New Town Hall that’s coming to Pittsboro. And the landscape and all the stuff outside is Emerson, Rob Emerson. And he’s out of Durham. But he’s done the pocket parks and things like that around here. And they’ve done great.

CE Group is local boy, Mark Astons and I met him and then got him in on the job because I coached his kids in soccer and and those are the primary people.

Gene: And do you have some you have you have a real estate company helping you out with this?

Greg: Andrews Real Estate Realty world. Eric Andrews is the guy marketing it. is doing all the work on that. And then Splinter Group out of Carrboro, which are some guys I became friends with during my rock and roll days in the past are doing all the website which is so

Gene: So if people want more information, they should just go to that website right now. You’ve got links to some of the other folks that are involved with this project.

Greg: Correct. And if we can walk around here, I actually want to watch this garbage truck. One of our biggest issues is how are we going to get the trucks back there? So I’m going to watch this.

Gene: What do you mean? A big issue?

Greg: Well, because fitting them around the corner, it is so tight back here. This is a big deal.

Gene: Okay? Hey, folks, if you’ve never been excited by watching a dump truck do its job. Hey, this is your opportunity. Made it around the corner, right?

Greg: All right. So it is going to fit in there. It’s absolutely gonna fit over here.

Gene: Now we’re going to get run over by this person. All right, because he’s probably going one way these guys out here recording me for.

Greg: This is the line where the air conditioning unit for the new building is going to sit. As you see the garbage truck can get around easily. And that was one of our problems.

Gene: Are you going to have to put bumpers on that air conditioning unit so they don’t hit it.

Greg: It’s like you have over here. We can’t right now. One of the problems as both of these have been hit numerous times by trucks coming around the corner and we’ve had to repair the rock work and the brick work on the side. You know, this was impromptu, but I’m glad to see that what we’ve been looking for. I’ve been waiting for. It is going to work.

Gene: Alright, so it looks like it’s going to work and you’re going to have bumpers protecting?

Greg: Well, you can get a good look here. You can see these are the balusters that are protecting the gas line. And how many times truck hit the right end If a truck hits it hard enough to take it down, you got a real problem.

Greg: So see, folks, you gotta think about all these things when you’re doing a project and it seems like Greg and his team at SoCo project, SoCo Pittsboro are doing that right. And it’s gonna be a little bit of a different corner in the next year. What are you hoping to have some of these major changes take place?

Greg: Well, we’re supposed to be finished with construction by the end of November of this year. That’s what we’re hoping to wind up. Hoping to have a really cool place to go.

Gene: So folks, sometime within the year, this is going to be a different type of corner. There’s going to be entertainment here. There’s going to be food here. It’s going to be interesting. And we’re going to keep you up to date as to what Greg and his folks are doing here with the SoCo project. Anything else we need to know Greg?

Greg: I don’t think there’s anything else to say right now. As soon as I figure something out, I will let you know.

Gene: All right, folks. Hey, Gene Galin here with the Chatham Journal. Stay in touch with us at Join Chatham Chatlist and sign up for that. We send out a daily digest Monday through Saturday. And Greg, thank you so much for letting us know what you’re planning to do here.