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.

Can We End Homelessness? continued

There were a lot of people at the End Homelessness Roundtable this morning, enough to make a serious effort to organize more effective ways to provide appropriate levels of housing and services for those in need. One point that stuck with me was that our inability to provide comprehensive services for the chronically homeless in a coherent fashion is very expensive, probably costly enough to pay for a good program if we could focus the resources appropriately.

Run Your Local Gocery Store

Weaver Street Market's Annual Meeting is tonight at Panzanella at 7:00 pm (I think). This is an opportunity for the people who shop and work there to govern the co-coperative institution (theoretically) by selecting the Board of Directors. In the past, the Board election has been an insulated affair, with the current board choosing their colleagues and offering the membership little more than a rubber stamp.

Unfortunately, I can't attend. But I hope someone will and give us a report. I don't think you have to be an owner to attend. Will it be more of the same?

Amendment One

Guest Post by Anita Badrock

Amendment One is on the ballot for consideration by NC Voters. It allows local municipalities to issue "self financing bonds" (also known as TIF's--"tax incremental funding") without taxpayer approval. NC is one of only two states that does not currently allow this type of bond to be issued. The amendment has created some unlikely local allies---those in favor of the amendment include Mayor Foy and the Town Council, former Republican governor Jim Martin, former Democratic governor Jim Hunt, and the local Chambers of Commerce. Those opposed include the conservative John Locke Society, the Common Sense Foundation, the Libertarian Party of NC, and our own Dan Coleman.

If Amendment One passes, local governments would be allowed to create special development districts, then issue bonds without voter approval to pay for improvements in these districts — such as streets, water and sewer service and sidewalks — to attract developers.

An urban downtown

Are we ready? As a lover of urban spaces, I must say I am pretty excited about the proposals brewing for downtown Chapel Hill and Carrboro. (I have linked to respective towns' websites who have pretty good information, and maps!)

Raise A Glass on Franklin Street

On tonight's Chapel Hill Town Council agenda, Mayor Pro Tem Edith Wiggins will have the opportunity to undo the action she took in July to singlehandedly stop local restaurants from serving alcohol to customers dining on the sidewalk. The Daily Tarheel points out the cost of this misstep to local restaurateurs, I would just add that there is a cost in the goodwill of downtown merchants and consumers as well. Since she has not raised an actual objection to the idea then or now, many feel confident it will pass unanimously this evening.

But I have to wonder why Wiggins is blocking proposals that she claims to support. Does she have other objections that she doesn't care to state publicly or is she just flexing her Pro Tem muscle?

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