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.

New Partnerships for Downtown Chapel Hill: An Interview With Meg McGurk

[Meg's Twitter picture]Meg McGurk has taken the helm of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership after five years as its assistant director. I have worked with Meg for four years in the planning of Project Connect, an annual event where persons at risk for homelessness and those experiencing homelessness can receive services. Meg and I recently talked about her goals for the Downtown Partnership now that she is its executive director, including her thoughts about arts-driven economic development, parking, panhandling, vacant buildings, and new development.

The Case for Food Trucks

In January of 2012, after more than a year of debate, discussion, and deliberation about food trucks in Chapel Hill, the Town Council finally passed an ordinance to allow them in our community.

But then no food trucks came.

I’ve spent the last two months talking to food truck owners, local businesses, advocates, and town staff about our ordinance. While there is still disagreement, it seems clear that there is one thing we can all agree on: Our food truck ordinance is not working. I think this is because we didn’t understand the regional economy of the food truck industry in the Triangle. In Durham, food trucks thrive because the community has embraced the food truck business model, and empty parking lots in downtown become natural gathering places for this model of food delivery.  

Chapel Hill feared that opening the door to food trucks would provide too much competition to brick and mortar restaurants. We were also concerned that the number of food truck applicants would overwhelm our staff’s ability to review and inspect them. No matter how we write our ordinance, I don’t believe either of those things will happen.

OP @ Locally Grown - Hitchcock's Vertigo

Come take in a Locally Grown movie with your OP friends. August 16th, Vertigo will be screened. Brush up on your Hitchcock trivia and you could win prizes. 

From the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership:

Now in its fifth year, LOCALLY GROWN Music & Movie Series offers the community FREE live concerts and movies every THURSDAY evening on the Wallace Plaza, atop the Wallace Parking Deck at 150 E. Rosemary Street in downtown Chapel Hill. This summer's lineup includes three concerts of  locally-grown music acts and five family-friendly and classic films. 

LOCALLY GROWN's mission is to promote the downtown community by bringing people to shop and eat at local businesses while enjoying local entertainment and activities on summer evenings in Downtown Chapel Hill.

Check out the rest of the Locally Grown line-up.


Thursday, August 16, 2012 - 8:00pm to 10:00pm


Wallace Plaza (roof of the parking deck) 150 E. Rosemary Street, Chapel Hill

Weaver Street Market : '2022 Vision' : My Version : "Small is Beautiful"

All owners of Weaver Street Market Co-operative (both worker and consumer) will shortly be receiving an Owners’ News talking about the future of WSM, and inviting folks to stand for the Board of Directors.

I strongly urge folks to stand for the Board. If you are less than happy with what is happening with WSM, it is no good merely standing on the sidelines. If you do nothing, then nothing is what you will get. Take a stand, and stand for the Board.

The Owner News also has an Address from Ruffin Slater, WSM General Manager, in which he suggests that WSM should increase its impact in our community by becoming bigger. I disagree. I think WSM has, over the past 24 years, become too bloated, unwieldy and unresponsive. I believe that WSM can achieve more (and better quality) impact by becoming smaller. Sort of.

Weaver Street Market Co-operative Planning More Stores

Weaver Street Market Co-operative still has $8 million in loans to repay from its last failed expansion project in 2007/2008. Yet, it is now planning, in its '2022 Vision', to build at least three more stores over the next decade.

I’m sorry. I misspoke. A few of the self-selected upper management in the corporate office in Hillsborough, NC are making these plans.  And, to date, have shared them only with other managers.

Owners and workers in this worker-consumer co-op, where all are supposed to be equal, are not deemed equal enough to be consulted on the planning. Notwithstanding the fact that Board Policy and Employee Policy both demand that workers be meaningfully involved in major decisions that affect their workplace.

Which is a good spot for a little history for newcomers to the Family of Weave.



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