Target opens on West Franklin St
Walking down West Franklin Street on a Wednesday afternoon, it can feel like a food desert. Before this summer, there were no places to buy many essential items every college student needs throughout their academic career.
Then, Target opened Tuesday on West Franklin Street in Chapel Hill.
There is a reason for the tall grey fences, hard hat construction workers and unfinished buildings next to Target. It is part of the larger progressive development, Carolina Square.
Target is the first commercial opening in the large development. Carolina Square will have residential spaces, retail shops, restaurants and office space. The office space is expected to open around mid-August, the residential spaces by the end of August and the retail shops in the next 6-8 months.
“The reality is this type of development doesn’t work everywhere because of the population density,” said Jeff Furman, the Vice President of Development and Director of Raleigh operations for Northwood Ravin. “So we were so excited when we learned of this opportunity in downtown Chapel Hill. To be on the edge of such a vibrant university, it allows us to bring together office workers, retailers and residents.”
Target's current location was previously known as University Square, which was privately owned by UNC real estate holders. Furman said the area used to be “dilapidated”.
“(Northwood Ravin) said this could be something better,” Furman said. “The University recognized by revitalizing this part of Franklin Street, but ultimately complementing the downtown area makes the University more attractive and a better place for its students."
Carolina Square is being completely developed by private companies Northwood Ravin and Cousins Properties. According to Dwight Bassett, Chapel Hill's economic development officer, Carolina Square is costing the town nothing and will bring in taxes collected on the property.
“The previous building was set back,” Bassett said. “It did not feel like it was a part of the urban environment. This feels like it is more part of the urban environment and creates a better Chapel Hill experience for the students, faculty, and staff.”
Furman said the new center helps decrease the use of automobiles.
“Again, the resident doesn’t have to rely on the automobile as much because it’s a very pedestrian friendly place," Furman said. "Same thing for the retail. The hope in these types of centers is that you expand the opportunities in the short area so that we don’t have to rely so much on our automobiles.”
However, for Chapel Hill resident Kim Buckley, she relied on her automobile to get her from her residence near University Lake to the newly opened Target.
“I parked right in front of the store,” Buckley said. “Today [parking] was really easy, but I will definitely be returning even if the parking might not be so great.”
In total there will be 880 parking spaces. Furman said some of the difficulties with such an “intense” project as this one. Modifications for the Target store alone costed upwards of seven figures.
Despite several various sections in the store, Buckley was missing the one thing for her family.
“(My daughter) was disappointed that there were no toys,” Buckley said. “I think we’ve seen the whole thing and we didn’t see toys unless there’s a really tiny section.”
Furman said Target is a benefit not only because of the store itself, but because of where it’s located and the other buildings around it.
“When it all comes together like this, the variety of spaces really complement each other,” Furman said. “The sum of the whole is much greater than the sum of the individual parts.”