Garner Recreation Center
2022 NC Main Street Award: Economic Vitality
Best Infill Building Project
Town of Garner
Garner Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department
Downtown Garner Association
In August 2021, the transformational Garner Recreation Center opened in historic downtown Garner. Construction began in 2017 for the 40,000 square feet facility that has enticed, 200 member sign-ups and has drawn more than 75,000 visitors to Downtown Garner since its opening. The project was funded by multiple partners, including a 2013 Garner bond referendum, the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, Con Agra Corporation, Wake County, and the North Carolina General Assembly.
Downtown Garner staff helped assemble the properties to accommodate this facility and other projects. It has resulted in expanded athletic leagues, camps, after school programs, and fitness and specialty classes. It is an event center for the entire community, providing rental space for local activities and statewide sports tournaments. Garner’s Holiday Block Party and Movies on the Lawn events have been relocated to the recreation center campus.
Most impressive has been the economic development it has spurred in Downtown Garner. Three new downtown businesses opened prior to the recreation center’s opening. And there is a new mixed-use project under development that will include 101 new residential units, 5,500 square feet of new commercial space, and the expansion of the Main Street commercial footprint by 50%.
The recreation center has 8 full-time jobs and 40 part-time and seasonal jobs. A private company invested $2.7 million to renovate two downtown properties into a distillery and wedding venue, and other downtown businesses invested more than $1.5 million to improve existing properties.