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.

Seven windows, seven doors

This month there was (is?) a very thoughtful piece of activism in downtown Chapel Hill. With "Seven Windows, Seven Doors" local artist-activists painted silouettes on the boarded up openings on the old bus station. Soon the bus station will be demolished to make room for a luxury hotel.

This unique act combined art, protest, and history in an effective and touching message. The pictures are combined with words expressing the experiences of people who passed through the bus station in past decades. "I left here hoping to escape..." "I was discriminated against here..." "I enforced the law here..." "I looked away here..." "I won on a full house here..."

Here's is Sally Greene's photo gallery and her blog post about it. Also, here is an interview with Matt Robinson (one of the creators) by Brian Russell of AudioActivism.org.

Behind closed doors

I was disappointed, but not surprised, to read about the recent closed-door session of the Chapel Hill Downtown Economic Development Corporation. Here on OP we have raised a number of concerns about this new downtown player since it's creation.

Looks like Kirk Ross at the Independent Weekly has joined the skeptics. He writes:

In one quick meeting last week, the [Corporation] managed to alienate a number of the players needed to make new ideas work and raise suspicion among the general public about just what the group is up to. ...

For folks interested in the future of downtown Chapel Hill, the board's action was enlightening, as was the rather imperial response by board member J. Allen Fine, when asked by Epting why he wanted to do things in closed session. "Why not?" Fine replied.

Keep transit on the street

Guest Post by Patrick McDonough

As part of its downtown redevelopment plans, Chapel Hill is considering the construction of a transit transfer center.

In my November 28th Guest Column in the Chapel Hill News, I discuss the advantages of one of the proposed designs which would keep transit access on downtown sidewalks rather than in an off-street facility. Here's the column: Downtown transit will work best on the street

Questions and comments are welcome.

Patrick McDonough is a regular Chapel Hill Transit rider, and has a Master's Degree in Transportation and Land Use Planning from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Friday is Buy Nothing Day

An important announcment from our friends at Internationalist Books & Community Center:

Wondering what to do with your family after you make leftover turkey or tofurkey sandwiches? Want to avoid the crazy shopping crowds? Tired of the hyped-up holiday hooha?

Why not try Buy Nothing Day! Join us for a day free of consumer spending at Internationalist Books & Community Center.
When: Friday, November 26th, 12-5pm
Where: 405 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC

What's going on?
Free food and free swap all day! Around 2pm- Poetry hour Block printing workshop — make your own greeting cards! Fun, friends & fellowship!

Don't Miss This Film!

The award-winning documentary "The Corporation" will be playing for free this Sunday, Nov. 21 at 7pm in Hanes Arts Center auditorium on UNC's Campus.

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