Granville Towers and University Square are an eyesore, but the University shouldn’t rush to demolish the towers or the square now that it controls the property.
University officials are currently deliberating on a plan for the space. The property’s current design is an inefficient use of land, but officials have several ideas to improve it, including new student housing, more retail space, a new parking deck or an arts venue.
There are also some ideas out there to turn the property — or at least part of it — into market-value housing.
This is a bad idea. It might provide funds for the University, but it doesn’t serve the community.
This newly acquired property needs to serve the needs of the students, employees and town.
More than 1,300 students live in Granville. And the University will be expanding in the next few years to accommodate growth in the UNC system.
This property needs some kind of student housing.
And the needs of University employees should also be kept in mind during planning.
When the University adds parking to the space, the deck should operate similarly to Cobb Parking Deck, offering employee and student permit parking during the day and free parking after 5 p.m.
About 48 percent of faculty and staff don’t park on campus.
There’s no way to know how many employees want to park on campus and can’t. But more parking closer to the classrooms would be appreciated.
Free parking at night would also benefit downtown, where parking is already limited.
The town will already benefit from the proposed retail-space expansion. Officials say the current 30,000 square feet of retail space will be increased to 90,000 or 100,000 square feet.
The town could always use more economic development. And the Granville property gives the University an opportunity to help the town out. But it should do so with the right priorities.
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