What’s happening this year in Clayton

From Staff ReportsJanuary 6, 2014 

— Like the year that just ended, 2014 promises to bring change to Clayton. We’ve put together a preview of what residents can expect in the new year.

Business: Three new restaurants that hope to draw crowds will open this year.

The folks behind the Cleveland Draft House in the Cleveland community are bringing that model to Shotwell Road near U.S. 70 Business. The Clayton eatery will offer 70 draft beers, nearly twice as many as its Cleveland cousin.

Just up the road, on U.S. 70 Business in front of Walmart, the Backyard Bistro will make its home in the former Wendy’s building, which will get a makeover and an addition. The Raleigh franchise serves big Southern dishes in a casual sports bar environment. Favorites include shrimp and grits, burgers, ribs and several desserts, from banana pudding to funnel cake.

Manning’s Restaurant will open downtown at 406 E. Main St. near Horne Square. It will feature Southern cuisine in an upscale setting. The owners plan banquet rooms for parties and a rooftop patio.

Town Manager Steve Biggs said Manning’s Restaurant is one of the upcoming projects he’s most excited about. “On the private sector side of things, I believe the Manning’s Restaurant project will be a huge boost for downtown,” Biggs said.

Biggs said downtown is on its way to becoming a destination for dining, and Manning’s will make it even more of one.

Town projects: Clayton folks who enjoy spending time outdoors will benefit from both planning and construction in 2014.

Construction will begin on the Clayton Community Center pedestrian connector, which will make it easier to walk around town.

Also, the town will build a playground at East Clayton Community Park and usher in the first full seasons of play on the newly lighted ball fields there.

On the design front, the town will begin planning Phase II of the Sam’s Branch Greenway, paving the way to connect to Legend Park and bring the popular greenway closer to downtown

Also, the town will begin planning for a 150-acre park on Covered Bridge Road. When it opens, it will be Clayton’s biggest park yet

The town will design additional parking downtown from Horne Square to Church Street. That parking will be behind existing buildings on Main Street.

Also new in 2014: a new town website, due for launch in February, and a “Welcome to Clayton” sign on U.S. 70 Business just west of Walmart.

New housing: Apartments are booming in town.

Construction will continue on Amelia Station, an apartment complex on N.C. 42 West near Amelia Church Road. When the apartments open, residents will be able to buy gas and food at the nearby Sheetz, which is also under construction.

Several other residential projects, mostly single family, will get under way, including Ashcroft near Sam’s Branch Greenway and Bristol at Cobblestone and Creekside Commons, both off of Champion Street behind Burger King.

The Arbors at East Village, another apartment complex, will open on the Front Street Extension, which is also nearing completion. Clayton leaders hope downtown will benefit from the Front Street Extension, which will make it easier for traffic on N.C. 42 East to reach downtown businesses.

“The Front Street Extension and connection with Highway 42 is going to be one of the most important projects we have ever performed,” Biggs said. It will improve emergency-service response and convenience while creating economic-development opportunities, he said.

One of those economic-development opportunities is the former spinning mill on Front Street. The owners are working with community leaders and investors to turn the building into a sports complex, restaurant and retail outlet that will be easy to get to once Front Street reaches N.C. 42 East.

Commercial, industry expansion: The year will see growth in jobs and more housing and long-term-care options for seniors.

By year’s end, Johnston Medical Center expects to be nearing completion of its 50-bed inpatient wing on N.C. 42 West.

Also on the health-care front, the developers of Spring Branch Medical Park plan another building near Johnston Medical Center.

Britthaven, a 100-bed nursing home, will go up on N.C. 42 West, and Riverwood Haven, a 48-unit apartment complex for adults 55 and older, will go up next to Riverwood shopping center.

One of the town’s largest employers, Grifols, is working on an expansion, and insulin maker Novo Nordisk plans to complete a 93,000-square-foot expansion in the new year.

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