Economy & Downtown

Chapel Hill's downtown has long benefited from its proximity to a captive audience of University students without cars. While downtowns around the country have been failing, ours has survived fairly well. However, we have seen an increase in the number of chain stores locating downtown, and instability in the Downtown Economic Development Corporation. In the near future, we will see new Town-directed development on two major parking lots have a big impact.
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Carrboro's downtown has also done better than many towns of comparable size, thanks largely to the presence of Weaver Street Market and progressive shoppers from the rest of the county. The Board of Aldermen has been addressing the evolution of the downtown, and have established a number of community resources in the downtown area including free wireless Internet access, and a low-power radio station.

Building the "Chapel Hill" Brand

This commentary, written by me and fellow OP editor Molly De Marco, originally appeared in the Chapel Hill News on July 26, 2015.

Chapel Hill has a branding problem. There, we said it – and we said it because it’s time for us to have a frank and honest discussion about just exactly what Chapel Hill is and who we are as Chapel Hillians.

Planning Tomorrow's Urban Neighborhoods Today

Last week, you might have read a Gizmodo article about how millennials will live in cities unlike anything we've ever seen before. If you haven't read it yet, I highly encourage you to, because, unlike so many articles in the media today, this one does an excellent job of capturing the nuances of why we are seeing certain behavioral patterns among millennials when it comes to where we live.

Town Hall Series Starts Next Week

Starting next week, I'll be hosting a series of four Town Hall events that each focus on a different issue in our community: downtown Chapel Hill, social and environmental justice, economic development and working together in Orange County. 

I want these events to be an opportunity for residents to engage and take an active role in shaping the future of our town. All you need to bring is an open mind and ideas for how we can build a more vibrant, livable community. Here's the schedule:

Town Hall- Downtown Chapel Hill

On February 25th from 5:30-6:30, I'm hosting a Town Hall at DSI Comedy on Franklin Street focused on our downtown. Come hear about what's new for Franklin and Rosemary Streets in the coming year, and share your vision about what you want downtown to look like in the future!

Date: 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - 5:30am

Location: 

DSI Comedy

Let's Do Parking Right: A Look at the Evidence

Parking, like traffic, is a recurring theme in local conversation about growth and development. We often hear from some community members that there is nowhere to park in downtown Chapel Hill/Carrboro, that a lack of parking is hurting local businesses, and that the parking minimums required for the Ephesus-Fordham renewal district are insufficient.

But the facts simply don’t support these claims. The reality is that providing more parking – especially surface parking – is fundamentally incompatible with urban land uses.*

The Truth About Traffic

Whenever there’s a new development proposal pending before a local governing board, the center of the conversation always seems to gravitate toward traffic. Given this tendency, I think it’s important we understand historic traffic changes in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

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Though it’s a short week because of the Memorial Day holiday, Orange County’s public bodies will

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