The red square is the selected site for the new performing arts center in Downtown Fayetteville. It currently is the parking lot in front of the main entrance to the Cumberland County Courthouse.

The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners has unanimously accepted a recommendation that a new performing arts center be built in the parking lot of the Cumberland County Courthouse in Downtown Fayetteville.

The motion to approve the recommendation for the new “Crown Event Center” came at a special called County Commissioners meeting held Monday afternoon.

The site is currently the primary parking lot facing the front of the courthouse, along Gillespie Street, Otis F. Jones Parkway, Russell Street and Dick Street.

“Over the last seven to eight months, the Crown Events Center Committee has been working diligently on site selection,” outgoing County Manager Amy Cannon said. “The site that is being brought forward today is one that meets the guiding principles.”

Cannon said that from about 12 sites that were originally considered, the committee narrowed it down to two sites that met the needs of the project.

“We are extremely excited today to be able to share with the community the site that has been selected for this facility,” said Commissioners Chairman Glenn Adams. “We believe this will be a transformative project, not only for Downtown Fayetteville but for all of Cumberland County as a local and regional asset that is accessible to all and that enhances and elevates our community as a premier destination for entertainment, events and gatherings.”

One of the key factors for the sites was that it be currently city or county owned. Of the 12 original properties considered, roughly half of those were downtown, and the others were at the current site of the Crown Theater, and others at spots along the Fayetteville Outer Loop.

“We were sensitive to the configuration. We wanted to make sure there was easy access, walkability to amenities, the bus line, as well as nearby parking,” Cannon said.

The two finalist sites scored highest among the properties, and those two sites then had feasibility studies and Phase 1 environmental studies done, to determine suitability. Cannon said no concerns were found with the recommended site.

The performing arts center is necessary in Fayetteville, as the current Crown Theater and Crown Arena are scheduled for closure in 2025. Adapting those facilities was deemed too expensive, and a new plan for a 2,500-3,000 seat multi-purpose facility to be built somewhere in the county.

“Their evaluation criteria included ownership, environmental issues, vehicular circulation and parking. Displaced parking was a factor that was considered as part of the site selection process,” a press release from the County said. “Additionally, parking and accessibility will be an important part of the design process as the project moves forward, as well as looking at programming to maximize opportunities for events that take place at times that will allow for the maximization of available parking in the area.”

Brandon Plotnick is a former sports journalist, now living in the digital space with interests all over the musical and pop culture map.