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Revitalization plans extended to all downtown

Part of the Chapel Hill 2020 plan, Downtown Imagined aims to unify and improve the downtown area.

“We were working off of the draft master plan called the Downtown Development Framework and Action Plan, which came out in 2010 and looked at the entire downtown area,” said Meg McGurk, executive director of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership.

Rosemary Street resident Michael Parker said his street has been neglected for too long.

“What I want to see is for Rosemary Street to come to life as a vibrant commercial, living, playing area,” Parker said.

McGurk said the expansion from Rosemary Street to the rest of downtown was the plan from the beginning.

“We started with focusing on Rosemary Street to get the community’s input and ideas, and now we have kind of pulled back the scope to encompass the rest of the downtown,” she said.

McGurk said having community involvement since the beginning led to creative ideas.

“What I would like to see is for Rosemary to be a vital, good looking area where people are walking, where people are transacting business, where people live,” Parker said. “Make it into a vibrant, thriving area.”

McGurk said the town is looking for student involvement in the planning process.

“We would really like student input, and we would be really happy to come to student organizational meetings or hold a special session for students,” she said. “It’s an incredible opportunity for students to be involved with the community process.”

Linda Convissor, director of local relations at UNC, said the downtown area is very important to campus.

“With all of the student housing being built around downtown, I think that is going to have a significant impact on the downtown we see in the next several years,” Convissor said. “A healthy and vibrant downtown is what helps us have a healthy and vibrant campus.”

McGurk said the final plan will be presented to the Chapel Hill Town Council later this year and should be up for adoption early next year. But Parker said implementation is everything.

“The plan is only as successful as it is implemented,” he said. “It’s nice to have a plan, but if it’s not implemented, then it’s not really useful, so the important thing now is to make sure that there are mechanisms put in place so that things move forward.”

Parker said that though students might not see the work they put in come to life during their time at UNC, their ideas would leave a legacy for future students.

“Downtown is — and should continue to be — a place where students are and want to be,” he said. “The best way to make that happen is for today’s students to make their views known so that tomorrow’s students will have a place where they want to be.”

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