The redevelopment of University Square is moving forward after its rezoning and special use permit were approved by the town on Feb. 11 — but the process is far from over.
Although the special use permit doesn’t require construction to begin until February 2015, businesses in University Square are already planning for the changes.
During construction — which will demolish and replace the existing development with a combination of office, retail and residential space, and more than 1,000 parking spots — current tenants will have to shut down or relocate.
Kelly Bruney, the co-owner of University Square restaurant Butternut Squash, said the owners of the building had promised her a place in the new development since 2009, but changed their minds in the summer of 2012.
“They said they would temporarily rehouse us and then we would get permanent rehousing,” she said. “They deliberately misled us for four years.”
But Gordon Merklein, executive director of real estate development for UNC and member of the 123 West Franklin St. development team, said no such agreement existed, because the project’s timeline has been unknown and the new building will be owned by a different company.
“Anytime a property is redeveloped to the extent that University Square is, one would expect that tenants would have to move for that process to proceed,” he said. “Part of that process is that some tenants will come back. Some won’t. Some will retire.”
Walter Holt — senior property manager for Avison Young, the firm that currently manages University Square — said his company is helping tenants find spaces to use during construction.
And some businesses welcome the renovations as a necessary update for the development.