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.

Question tourism

I really enjoyed this recent letter to the editor in the Chapel Hill News:

What a shame to foretell "gloom and doom" during hurricane season, but I must add my 2-cents worth to the intention of Laurie Paolicelli, executive director of the Chapel Hill-Orange County Visitors Bureau, and Daniel Wallace, gifted novelist, to put Carrboro on the national map via feature articles and testimonials in national publications. What could these people be thinking of?

Remember what Money magazine and other national coverage (that rated the best places to live in the United States) did for Chapel Hill? Did this type of coverage entice visitors? No. Droves of people moved here to live fore the duration. They were not tourists. And now we have four-lane highways where we used to have two-lane roads. And schools? No matter how many new schools are built, there are never enough to go around for long. And let's not do more than mention the deforestation.

So what makes the bureau think its publicity will attract only its stated audience-tourists?

Breaking down the Residences at Grove Park (425 Hillsborough St.)

As published in the Chapel Hill Herald on September 23rd, 2006

In recent years there has been no proposed development in Chapel Hill that I have more mixed feelings about than the Residences at Grove Park, which would replace the current Town House Apartments on Hillsborough Street with a number of relatively up-scale condos.

On one hand this kind of development fits in perfectly with the direction Chapel Hill's downtown needs to go in. We want more people living near the city's core. This certainly accomplishes that goal.

Beyond that, the Town House Apartments are not particularly nice. This would be a step forward in terms of aesthetics.

On the other hand, this poses a major problem in the sense that it will remove a large amount of student housing near campus. Already the local housing supply is having trouble keeping up with the university's expansion and causing students to choose places to live further and further away from Chapel Hill.

Don't forget to pack your laptop - Madison 2006 open thread

I have received no reply to my private and public offers to help set-up a blog or other tools to help the participants document the Inter-City Visit and Leadership Conference which starts tonight in Madison, Wisconsin. But I still believe that if this trip is informative to the diverse and illustrious group of community leaders who are attending, then learning about their experiences and insights will also be helpful for anyone else in the community.

So please consider this post an open thread to discuss the trip - especially if you are on it. It should be easy if you bring a laptop, the hotel where you are staying provides complimentary high-speed wireless Internet. And if you forgot to pack your laptop - don't worry. I will personally reimburse any cost associated with getting online for any Madison participants who post here on this page during the 2-day trip (or posts pictures of the trip on Flickr.com). This offer stands for reporters as well.

WSM owners, unite

Year after year it seems that the member/owners of Weaver Street Market wonder if our co-operative grocery store is doing the right thing. Are we getting enough dividends? Are the prices fair? Do we really need to open new branches and additional businesses? And more recently... How can WSM justify telling us and our friends whether and how to dance while we are being law-abiding consumers of their goods and services?

Missing Madison

In July, I wondered what people were thinking about the Inter-City Visit and Leadership Conference to be held in Madison, WI by the local "Community Leadership Council" on September 24-26. I considered participating in it, and in fact my husband and I both applied for scholarships to attend.

However, in addition to the fact that we did not receive the amount of scholarship requested ($1,300 for two of us, for a conference costing $2,190), the timing of the trip is singularly bad for us, and we simply cannot attend without throwing our lives into disarray. But! Just because the bloggers aren't going is no reason to for all of us who are staying home to miss out on what I'm sure will be interesting experiences for the folks in Madison.

I have suggested to the director of the Chamber of Commerce that they either set-up their own blog for the travellers or use OrangePolitics to help document the trip as it happens. The offer still stands...

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