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Construction has little effect on businesses

Though 140 West Franklin has shut down parts of Franklin Street, its effect on nearby businesses has been minimized as construction continues.

Construction for the 140 West project began in January 2011. The development — which will add 140 condominiums, 337 parking spaces and new retail space to Franklin Street — is expected to finish in April 2013.

An effort by the town to increase parking in downtown Chapel Hill helped businesses, such as West Franklin Street restaurant Lime & Basil, to recoup foot traffic lost by the construction.

Tuan Le, managing member of Lime & Basil, said his business saw a decrease in sales last year, right after construction began.

“People didn’t have a place to park,” he said. “It was an inconvenience for customers, so they stopped coming in.”

But now, Le said, thanks to additional parking, his business is back to how it was before construction started.

Aveda Institute Chapel Hill, the closest store to the 140 West construction, declined to comment.

Several other restaurants and businesses surrounding the 140 West construction could not be reached for comment.

When the 140 West building project replaced a town-owned parking lot in January 2011, downtown parking became a concern for residents and UNC students.

But Bobby Funk, assistant director of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, said since 140 West construction began, the town has added many parking options.

Funk said 140 West was one of the reasons the town added parking, but not the only factor in its decision.

Recently, the Downtown Partnership, which is a nonprofit organization that helps keep downtown thriving, launched a new website for parking. The website,, has an interactive graphic to show residents where and when parking is open to the public.

Aaron Nelson, president and CEO of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, said there are more public parking options now than when 140 West was a public lot.

He said though there were several complaints before construction began, those complaints have since decreased.

“People are very cooperative and understanding of the construction,” he said. “They realize that 140 West is good for that block of Franklin Street.”

Nelson said the condos will help bring new customers to the surrounding businesses.

But Layton Judd, CEO and co-founder of 3 Birds Marketing, said downtown Chapel Hill does not have enough parking options for businesses, especially near 140 West.

“There’s nothing going on down there,” he said.

Judd said the lack of parking makes it difficult for residents to visit parts of Franklin Street that are closer to Carrboro.

“The town, downtown in particular, needs to deal with the issue of parking more than the traffic flow to a few businesses,” he said.

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