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 Art of Place Making

Chapel Hill is holding a forum on public art:

Chapel Hill Public Arts Commission
The Foundation for a Sustainable Community
Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce

invite you to a Public Education Forum with
Ronald Lee Fleming AICP
Founder and Principal of The Townscape Institute

The Art of Place Making: Strategies for Thinking about Urban Design and Public Art

Thursday 10 February 2005
1:30pm - 3:00pm
Chapel Hill Town Hall
306 North Columbia Street
Town Council Chambers

Local Third Places Win Awards

Two local coffee shops in Carrboro and Chapel Hill have won national TOPS awards from the Specialty Coffee Association of America, based "not only serv[ing] excellent coffee, but also distinguish[ing] themselves as outstanding businesses." Both the Open Eye Café and Caffé Driade are co-owned by Carrboro resident Scott Conary and have been a part of the community for 6 and 9 years respectively.

“For us, quality comes first whether it is the product, the environment or the service,” Conary said. “We are passionate about what we do.”

Although both cafes focus on providing the same quality to customers, each has its own distinct environment.

A laid-back and comfortable space that has been a part of the town for six years, Open Eye Café is sometimes referred to by locals as “the living room of Carrboro.”

Conary, a Carrboro resident, said the cafe reflects his desire to create a coffee shop that reflects the quaintness of the town and the community's closeness.

The Grocery Shopping Project

Carrboro's downtown is interesting in that it manages to support a community-owned, cooperative grocery store right next to a large, North Carolina-based, regional grocery store. If you're an owner of the cooperative, do you shop at the large grocery store for convenience and familiarity and frequent the co-op for socializing and small cafe purchases? What would it be like if you tried to make your major grocery shopping purchases at the co-op instead? I thought I would try to find out.

I became an owner of Weaver Street Market back when I was applying for in-state status for tuition purposes. Nowadays I find myself frequently surfing the web at the cafe and listening to music on the lawn, and occasionally I'll buy fish and vegetables for a single meal. But I've never gone there to buy 2-3 weeks worth of groceries, mostly because I'm familiar with the brands I grew up with--that I know I can get at Harris Teeter.

Downtown plans discussed

If you live in Chapel Hill or Carrboro you may want to check out one of these forums today:

The latest plans for redevelopment of East Main Street will be presented to the Carrboro Board of Aldermen tonight at 7:30:

A parking deck could hold 500 vehicles, and a parking lot under the ArtsCenter could hold about 100 cars.

Performance Bicycle Shop would be torn down and replaced with a five-story building.

The ArtsCenter would be visible from all sides of the street and space above the ArtsCenter would be used by artists for galleries and living spaces.

That's the newest 3-D vision for the rebuilding of the 300 E. Main St. business strip, a project that could transform downtown Carrboro.

- Chapel Hill Herald, 1/11/05

Too much coffee?

The headline says "A cup of coffee on every corner" and I don't think they're far off. One of the newest additions will be in the building between Franklin and Rosemary Streets right before they merge into East Main Street. So far it seems the only unique thing they have to offer is wireless internet access (whouch should be a no-brainer for any business that wants people to hang out there). There's also a new coffeeshop hiding in the Courtyard that I didn't know about and of course another Starbucks is on the way.

So what do you think - how many coffeeshops can southern Orange County hold? How much is too much coffee?

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