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The Daily Tar Heel

Village Plaza construction causes parking challenges

Construction will cause changes to parking and traffic patterns beginning this month around the shopping center, located off East Franklin Street.

A new development, the Village Plaza Apartments, will be built on South Elliott Road, next to the center.

In an early phase of construction, a fence will surround the apartment site, which is currently a parking lot between the ABC Store and the building that used to house the Red Hot and Blue restaurant.

“There will be a little bit of a mess and some discomfort associated with parking and traversing the parking lot for about six weeks while we take down the antiquated and unsightly former Red Hot and Blue barbecue building,” said Jay Kanik, property manager for Regency Centers — the company that owns and manages Village Plaza.

He expects the building to be gone by next week.

After demolition, the lot will provide 40 temporary parking spaces until the new garage for the apartments is complete.

“Once that temporary parking field is in place and available to customers we think that will go a long way to help easing the congestion associated with the construction,” Kanik said.

Regency Centers, East-West Partners — the Village Plaza Apartments developer — and the town of Chapel Hill have been working together to provide as many temporary parking spaces as possible.

“We try to anticipate issues and review construction issues prior to the project’s beginning,” said Chapel Hill Parking Superintendent Brenda Jones.

A 4,000-square-foot building will replace the former Red Hot and Blue building about 18 months after the parking garage opens.

“All this change was inevitable, and everybody came to the table willing to give up a little bit in the short term to produce the best long-term product,” Kanik said.

Village Plaza businesses will have to adapt to the changes during construction.

“It’s going to be a great project once it’s completed,” said Barbara Jessie-Black, executive director of the PTA Thrift Shop in Village Plaza. “We are preparing ourselves for the challenges, and we look forward to an end product that the entire town can be very proud of.”

Transportation improvements will also occur, including a new road, which will connect the Village Plaza shopping center to the new apartments. New sidewalks and bike lanes will improve the area for cyclists and pedestrians.

“There is a great deal of angst associated with all the change that is going on within Chapel Hill right now, as change often makes people uncomfortable or worrisome over the future,” Kanik said. “I think everybody agrees that all these changes that are in process are for the betterment of the town as a whole.”

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