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.

Carrboro Advisory Boards Comment on CVS Concept Plan

On May 5, the potential developer of 201 N Greensboro Street in Carrboro presented a concept plan to several of the town's advisory boards. As discussed in previous threads (1, 2, 3), the plan includes a two-story building with 11,800 sq ft of CVS retail space on the first floor and 11,800 sq ft of storage and office space on the second floor. Surface parking would dominate the northern half of the block along Short Street.

Presentation of a concept plan to the advisory boards is the required first step before submitting a conditional use permit application to the town. The developer has reportedly already submitted a permit application. The applicant will be required to respond in writing to the advisory boards' comments when they come back to the boards during the permit application review process.

Copied below are the comments on the concept plan from the Planning Board, the Appearance Commission, and the Transportation Advisory Board. Comments from the Environmental Advisory Board are forthcoming also included [added August 23, 2011].

BoCC closed session on economic incentives




June 2, 2011



The Orange County Board of Commissioners will meet for a Special Meeting (closed session) on Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. at the Link Government Services Center, 200 South Cameron Street, Hillsborough, N.C. for the purpose of ““discussing matters related to the location or expansion of industries or other businesses in the area served by the public body, including agreement on a tentative list of economic development incentives that may be offered by the public body in negotiations,” NCGS § 143-318.11(a)(4).


Thursday, June 2, 2011 - 7:00pm

Robbing Peter to pay Paul?

So I was catching up on the Chapel Hill News yesterday and I noticed some eery similarity in two stories about new downtown developments in both Carrboro and Chapel Hill. In one article, questions are raised about how the developers of Greenbridge qualified for the gigantic loan that they are currently unable to repay. It should surprise no-one to learn that the 15% of the condos that were mandated to be affordable by the Town sold first.  It turns out that when the bank looked at pre-sales to determine demand, they counted the number, rather than the value, of the units. In fact, the News goes so far as to ask whether the affordable housing policy itself is somehow at fault for Greenbidge's current financial problems. I think that's a stretch, but it does make you think twice about the process by which banks decide to make commercial loans. (Housing bubble anyone?)

In another story, the News talks about the recently restarted mixed-use project at 300 East Main Street in Carrboro, which will bring 5 stories of retail, housing offices, a hotel, and parking to the current run-down strip mall that houses the ArtsCenter and the Cat's Cradle. (VisArt, RIP.)  One key element that helped Main Street Partners to secure their financing for this was the Town of Carrboro agreeing to lease a large number of parking spaces for the first few years after construction.

CVS submits plans for large store in Old Carrboro

As reported in our local newspapers (see here & here), CVS has submitted plans to the town of Carrboro to build a large CVS and parking lot on the corner of N. Greensboro St. &  Weaver St.  This development would demolish at least 2 historic buildings, cut down many trees, create more traffic problems and the parking lot would be placed on a residential street.

See my previous two posts to get more details on the history of the project so far.

There are some new pieces of information that are relevant to the development:

What is "Local"?

I’m a big fan of the Chapel Hill Carrboro Chamber of Commerce’s new OurLocalDeal website, that has daily, Groupon-style, half-off deals for Orange County businesses, but recently when I grumbled about their featuring the local UPS Store franchise, I set off a minor twitter war.  UPS is a global corporation based in Atlanta with stores located all over the world.  The Chamber of Commerce defends their choice as being a unionized, locally-owned store.



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