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.

The private press conference

Thanks to a reader tip (and the N&O) I found out about this "press conference" about the ban on Bruce Thomas dancing at Weaver Street Market.

Leadership on Weaver Street

With all the discussion of the strange management decisions at Carr Mill Mall and Weaver Street Market, and the recent announcement that WSM will move its offices and most of its kitchen to Hillsborough to make way for expansion in downtown Carrboro, it seems like a good time to mention that the annual election of WSM board members is coming up, and there is a board meeting tonight.

I couldn't find anything about it on their website, but there's a bunch of information in the latest "Owner News" which I don't care to transcribe. Short version:
Candidate info is now available at the service desk in WSM
Board applications due - 9/19/06, 9pm
Annual meeting with election of board members - 11/5/06, noon
Open board meetings - 8/16/06 (TODAY!) & 9/21/06, no time given :-(

Murder Downtown

WRAL is reporting that an individual was murdered downtown early this morning. The shooting was with a rifle, and beyond that there's not much more information.

Does anyone have more details about what happened? Any ideas on what the town can do to stop this trend of violent crime? It's become so seemingly routine that when some folks were robbed at gunpoint on Franklin St. a month or two ago it didn't merit any more coverage than a sentence or two in the Police Beat. I have a fair amount of faith in the Police Department and think they're doing the best they can, but I'm making it a point now not to walk by myself after about 10. Before this recent upswing (perceived or real?) in violent crime downtown I didn't give a second thought to walking anywhere at any time.

Dancing May Return to Carr Mill Mall

Many have expressed concern about a recent action by Carr Mill Mall to ban dancing by free-form dancer Bruce Thomas (even the CH Herald today opined "Let the dancing guy keep on dancing.").

Thomas has been enlivening the Carr Mill lawn for the last few years with his spontaneous, gracefully spiritual dancing. Other times, Bruce can be seen sitting in quiet meditation on one of the nearby benches. And, yes, he is a regular customer of Weaver Street Market.

The ban apparently results from a Carr Mill policy that states that only mall tenants and those attending their events can use the lawn space (thus, Bruce may dance during a WSM event but not otherwise).

Downtown's destiny

In May we had a false start here on OP discussing the Downtown Partnership's logo and slogan when the the Daily Tarheel incorrectly reported that the slogan would be "Sophisticated travel destination." It seems they actually settled on the slogan "Driving Downtown's Destiny." However, it turns out that the DTH's description of their logo was pretty much accurate.

I can't find a web site for the partnership, so I scanned this image (left) from their newsletter. Although I like the old-fashioned feel, the whole thing leaves me cold. It gives me the feeling that they are emphasizing tourism and history. While these are nice aspects, I personally don't think they are as high priorities as defining downtown Chapel Hill as a place where the community lives, as opposed to a place you just visit and then go home to your real community.



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