Franklin, meet Franklin

Speaking of business managers that don't understand the culture from which they profit (or hope to profit)...

A reader points us to an article in today's N & O in which the manager of the not-yet-open Franklin Hotel wants Festifall moved off Franklin Street because it might endanger his building. This guy can't have been in Chapel Hill long as the only street fair he's ever experienced here was last year's Apple Chill, which itself was fine, but ended very very badly.

Although the Franklin will not have any guests during the street fair, [hotel manager Michael] Donaldson said Thursday that fire crews might have trouble responding to the hotel should a problem arise that day.

For the same reason, Donaldson has asked the town to consider moving next year's Festifall away from the hotel. The fair is held on several blocks of West Franklin Street, including the stretch in front of the hotel.
- | Manager fears for new hotel amid Festifall, 9/1/06

This hotel is directly trying to capitalize on the popularity of Franklin Street by using its name, and Festifall has been a part of that very same Franklin Street for over three decades - long before the hotel was a glimmer in a businessperson's eye.

If this is their attitude, I wonder if they shouldn't have located the hotel at Chapel Hill North or Southpoint instead of in downtown Chapel Hill. Festifall comes with the package, folks.



This is the attitude of our new downtown developments? And, people wonder why Chapel Hillians are uncomfortable with new developments.

Welcome to the neighborhood Mr. Donaldson! Way to make a first impression!

I keep thinking there's a catchy slogan for downtown in here somewhere...

I think looking for "a catchy slogan" is both funny and on point. Rather than criticizing Donaldson, I think we should highlight this as an opportunity--especially for the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership. This is a chance to encourage and work with local businesses, instead of simply dismissing them. Instead of rejecting them, we should help bring them into the fold.

Personally, I'm embarrassed that Donaldson's first impression of my hometown was last year's AppleChill. I'd understand some apprehension on his part. I'd want to take extra steps to assure him that was not the norm.

I believe his perspective is as someone who was charged with the responsibility of caring for this rather large investment. I'd think it normal for him to be precautious and try to get the most safety possible.

Foy, as usual, gives the right response as mayor--we're looking after everyone's interests and are working for the benefit of the entire community. But perhaps the CHDP or the community (us), could find ways to encourage Donaldson.

Essentially, I agree that I'm not pleased with Donaldson's attitude. However, I believe it is understandable. Furthermore, attitudes change and I see it as our responsibility to welcome new people (residents, students and businesses alike) in hopes of fostering the type of attitude we like.

It is less than progressive to shut out those who are less community orientated then ourselves. Our aim should be to invite in all those who wish to come, and then with hospitality and conscious efforts we promote our way of life.

He's also worried about broken windows.

I kidded that the Festival rock hurl and kaber toss would have to be cancelled but, unfortunately, the pressure to sanitize or “Southpoint” Franklin St. will only increase as big development money flows in from out-of-town. Will RAM Development be “surprised” to find a Festifall on their new plaza?

Redevelopment downtown was meant to bring positive change without overwhelming the character and traditions of Franklin St.

How is critiquing someones statement in the newspaper "rejecting them" or a "shut out"?

Gotta agree with BrianR:

Any new business should be looking for ways to intigrate with the community, not alienate it. I don't think anyone is rejecting The Franklin (how could we, it hasn't opened yet?), but in terms of public relations I think their initial position is ill-conceived.

And he's certainly not making friends with statements like this:

"I have not gotten any answer back from anyone [concerning the town's security plan]," he said. "It happens a lot around here, it seems."

As opposed to Raleigh where Donaldson manages a Candlewood Suites across from Crabtree.

Gosh, john a, some folks who post here have made very similar statements about our local government's elected and appointed officials. Maybe Donaldson got that perspective from reading some of the comments here. :-)

Setting aside the attitude issue and the fact that he probably had nothing to do with selecting the name of the facility (hence HE is not trying to capitalize on the name), what about the substance of his concern? As a new business manager in Chapel Hill, it sounds to me like he is asking good questions. What happens if a business like his needs fire service during the street fair? Will there be adequate security to prevent vandalism at the construction site? I suspect the security plan will answer these questions.

As for trying to integrate with the community and not alienate it, its worth considering that not all in the community might feel alienated by his words. Also, it seems that there is a significant number of people who would not be unhappy if there were no street fairs at all. We just don't know the numbers.

BTW, anyone wonder how the N&O got this story?

So how did this story break? Did the hotel manager call the N&O? Or did the mayor?

While I see that the hotel manager's request to make sure that the property has adequate fire & police protection is reasonable (maybe they should park a fire truck on Cameron Street), I think that the request to move the event is pretty silly. It's like knowingly moving in next to a frat house or airport and expecting a nice, quiet property.

And if the comments from the hotel manager are accurate, I agree that they could have been less confrontational. I don't know the reporter, so I don't know his track record on accuracy.


Regarding the story origin question, obviously Fred and I were typing at the same time.

"It's like knowingly moving in next to a frat house or airport and expecting a nice, quiet property."

Isn't that exactly the situation with Horace Williams Airport?

"Many of it's neighbors have wanted state-owned Horace Williams Airport closed for a long time." from OP

I'd tend to agree that Mr. Donaldson's stance isn't completely unreasonable given the information and impressions he has.

That said, I think it'd be kinda silly to move the whole of Festifall unless there was some specific reason to do so.

The reporter tells me that "The mayor's correspondence is available upon request from the media. We try to make a habit of checking it regularly."


Chris - two words and one number: "due diligence" + "14 million"

Mark, many missives come via email and are redistributed to staff the same way. Hard copy is usually scanned and distributed via email

I asked more than 3 years ago that when correspondence is referred to staff it be made available to the public (this was in the aftermath of the RLC issue - after I discovered the attempted manipulations by the RLC Astroturf group).

About 2 1/2 years ago, when the new Council was seated, but before I was "official" on the Tech Board, I returned with a more limited request and seemed to get agreement.

About 18 months ago, post my joining the Tech Board, Council directed that we open up these communications along the lines the Tech Board had suggested.

Last year the town's IT staff told us this and the internal list-srvs would be available via the town's website "anyday now".

To date, that hasn't happened. With all the changes going on in town we need action sooner than later.

Flash reports, directives to staff, the Council list-srv, etc. are still unavailable. This Fall I'm going to make another run (PlanA) at getting the staff to stop dragging their feet and get those documents/communications out there...

My hope is with Stancil at the helm, action will be quick and decisive.

Otherwise, PlanB.

Unless I missed something, I don't have the "mayor's correspondence" on this matter. Maybe I missed it in the emails coming from the Town, but I don't recall seeing it.

I have to agree with Kevin's statements about serving the community as a whole in terms of security. I'm sorry that this business owner may have had a bad impression from last spring's Apple Chill event (or other happenings he cited in the N&O), and hope that his opinions will change. Festifall is a great event, and I look forward to going with my kids. We do have security plans in place prior to such events, and to my knowledge, always have. AND, we definitely look forward to the grand opening of this great hotel.


I didn't mean to imply that a critique was improper, and I apologize if that's the impression I gave.

However, I believe there was rejection and shutting out. The rejection wasn't horrible, but it is there--it's there with the sarcasm and with the belief that if they don't fall in line that they should have chosen a different location.

And it's not even that rejection is wrong. I think it's fine if we reject certain types of thinking... but I would prefer if we follow up the rejection with an alternative and affirmative action. That's to say that I don't care for a model of thinking that "if you're not as community orientated as us, you'll need to move along." I think we as a community have an obligation to welcome newcomers and encourage them. Which is what I meant by being shut out.

With being shut out, I am as guilty as any one else. I'm willing to make comments on a webpage, but do little else to remedy the situation. I do not take an active approach in the matter and leave all the 'action' up to the individual (Donaldson) which I have a problem with. And that's just silly, but the way it is (at least for me).

At contrast with being shut out is the active community. It's the comforting talk given by the neighboring business who had similar worries when they opened a decade ago. It's the average resident (me) letting them know that when I have out of town guests needing accommodations, I try to schedule it during times where there's activities like Apple Chill or Festifall.

Again, I'm sorry if my original comments appeared to want to stifle communication or critiques--that certainly wasn't my intent. Also, I appreciate you questioning my comments in an attempt to understand what I was trying to say. Hopefully it's a bit clearer now.


I just want to say how much I enjoyed reading your response to BrianR. It appears to be both well thought out and sincere. Posts like yours are one of the reasons I enjoy reading (and sometimes posting) on OP. Dialogue in every form is critical to maintaining a strong sense of community and you are an excellent practitioner.

Perhaps I'm having a senior moment, but didn't the town council
cancel Festifall in the wake of last year's violence? Laurin or
someone, please inform me.

Town Council draws line at apple chill
Panel agrees on letting UNC basketball, Halloween, FestiFall festivities continue

BY ROB SHAPARD; 918-1050
Chapel Hill Herald
Tuesday May 23, 2006
Final Edition
Front Section
Page 1

CHAPEL HILL -- Assuming that Carolina beats Duke in basketball in the future or beats everybody for another national title, don't look for the town to try to stop Heels fans from invading Franklin Street to celebrate.
And the tens of thousands of people who descend on downtown for Halloween each year won't find their way completely blocked, although they'll still have to get past checkpoints in some spots.

In the wake of its cancellation of the town-sponsored apple chill street fair, the Town Council agreed Monday that it doesn't need major changes to how the town handles UNC basketball celebrations downtown, nor to its handling of the unofficial but popular Halloween gathering and the town-sponsored FestiFall street festival each year.


I had thought that too, but a recent conversation I had with a town employee indicated that they didn't cancel Festifall because it did not have the same history or size, and lacks an unofficial "after event"... although it seems likely that could change with the cancellation of Apple Chill.

My sister and her family are visiting from Florida and I was considering taking them to Festifall, but after Apple Chill I'm not sure that's a good idea. I've looked around online and can't find any information on how safe Apple Chill is, so I'm a little wary.

Having never been to Festifall, I'm wondering if anyone can tell me if it's safe during the day, and if it's Mardi Gras crowded or if there's reasonable room for maneuvering around with a toddler and four adults? I used to love the craft fairs in Virginia when I lived there and would love to attend something similar now that we live here, with interesting local craft vendors/artisans, good food, and overall a nice afternoon festival. Is that Festifall?

Thanks for your replies.

Lily, I don't know where you got the idea that FestiFall is even comparable to Mardi Gras. Both it and the late Apple Chill are peaceful family-oriented events at which the biggest danger is running into your algebra teacher or some neighbor you're trying to avoid.

It's really frustrating to me that media coverage seems to have given people such distorted ideas about Chapel Hill's street life!

Hi Ruby,

I referred to Mardi Gras for crowd size. The map of the Festifall area looks quite small, and the crowd estimates I saw online said 25,000 people. I was wondering how inflated that number was, and if I should anticipate a crush of people or an enjoyable fair.

And you're right, the media has made Chapel Hill street events out to be questionably safe events. I live in Durham and actually was wondering if the World Beer Fest at the old ball park would be a safer bet for my sister's visit, even if we do have a kidlet in tow.

It's sad, but honestly, when I think of Franklin Street events, I think of coeds rocking cars and setting fires, gangs on crotch rocket motorcycles having shootouts, and crushes of drunk kids. I have never actually been to a Franklin St event (Chill, Festifall, Halloween, Basketball games) so wanted to get the straight scoop here, in hopes that the local media is indeed making more of these things than they really should. It appears they are, so Festifall is on!

If I run into my algebra teacher, I will surely hide. I nearly flunked algebra, and now I work in Finance. ;)


If you can do both the World Beer Fest and FestiFall I would do so. These types of events are exactly why the Triangle is such a wonderful place to live. Enjoy as much of them as you can while you can.


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