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.

Would Orange Play the Lottery?

Guest Post by Terri Buckner

According to the News & Observer, under a new proposal, each county would have the choice of opting into the state lottery. The details aren't provided in a newspaper article that I can link to but on the State of Things on May 11, it was stated that once 25 counties voted to participate in the lottery, the lottery would be implemented statewide with 25% of all revenues going to the schools.

According to the State of Things, those of us who are against the lottery are social conservatives. I'm against it because it's a regressive tax plan. What do others think? Should Orange make this a county referendum? What are the benefits/drawbacks to a lottery here in Orange Co?

Suffer the little billionaires

Consider the plight of the fabulously rich....

Downtown study input

The Herald Sun reports today that the Town Council will officially hear from it's downtown consultant tonight on their downtown market study. It's not surprising that the consultant advocates a further reliance on retail of home furnishings, movie theaters, etc. But it's disappointing to hear that they feel there is no need for new owner-occupied units downtown and no grocery store.

Unfortunately, despite it's progressive reputation, Chapel Hill is still not the walkable community that Carrboro and even parts of Durham are, partially due to the lack of diverse housing options downtown and the lack of a small grocery within the downtown. I'd be interested in hearing more about why the downtown market study did not feel that condos and a market were feasible, especially considering the successful trend towards this in other towns and cities throughout the country. Meeting = Monday (tonight) at 7pm at the town hall.

The One-Two Punch.

I love it when I can detect a certain love ... errr... affinity shared between our two leading North Carolina think tanks -- the Common Sense Foundation and the John Locke Foundation. The topic on which they seem to most often agree is the practice of government giving incentives (tax breaks, cold cash) to corporations in exchange for what is often a meager or nonexistent return on the investment. In the last week, both groups have issued rousing attacks on the practice, from a couple different angles.

A Taxing Situation Downtown

,Well, it always amused me that the first thing the town/gown/merchant committee took up, while thinking about how to organize the effort to create a nonprofit downtown development entity, was whether to drop the downtown special tax. Oh, so that's the problem! Forget about the empty storefronts and buildings kept empty by landlords who have driven up rents beyond what's reasonable on Franklin Street, and who won't countenance the idea that the market has changed, that with the explosion of retail space in the Triangle, the rents they enjoyed in the 1990s (adjusted for inflation) are no longer fair market rents. No no! It's a levy of 6.2 cents per $100 that's killing commerce downtown!

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