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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC closer to acquiring historic building

The building, constructed in 1967 as the Chapel Hill Public Library, is in Chapel Hill’s historic district. It previously housed the Chapel Hill Museum and the Chapel Hill Historical Society.

As part of the process to finalize the foundation's purchase of the building, a proposal to change the property from a public facility into a general office building had to be passed by the town council.

“We’ve been working on it for almost four and a half months now,” said Rob Parker, senior associate dean for development in the College of Arts and Sciences and executive director of the Arts and Sciences Foundation. 

“We have been working with the neighborhood and they have been very supportive.”

The foundation won the bid in July to buy the property from the town for $1.25 million.

The next step in the process for the proposal now is to gain final approval at a council business meeting in April.

Currently working out of a two-story office at 134 E. Franklin St., the 20 development staff members who report to Parker have outgrown their space. Six other office employees are scattered in office buildings around campus. 

“If we can complete this in the next couple of months, we hope we can move in sometime in summer 2016,” Parker said.

The new location will allow employees to have more access to UNC parking spaces a block away, a bus stop and new bicycle racks, according to documents provided at Monday’s meeting.

Its status as a historical landmark limits the amount of renovation that the owner can perform.

Any changes to the interior or exterior design has to be approved by Preservation North Carolina and the Historic Preservation Foundation of North Carolina.

The changes to landscaping that the foundation submitted in the proposal are made to meet current ordinance requirements with no major changes to its exterior appearance.

“This is an existing site that has been there for 40 to 50 years,” said Kay Pearlstein, senior planner for the town of Chapel Hill. “It doesn’t meet a lot of today’s ordinance requirements.” 

Occasional town meetings could also be held in the building.

“I know the town is losing this as a public building, but a great way to still have use of this public facility is to have use of the building as a meeting place,” said Lee Storrow, a member of the Chapel Hill Town Council.

CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this story incorrectly named the organization that will be purchasing the office at 523 E. Franklin St. The UNC Arts and Sciences Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, is attempting to purchase the building. The story has been updated to reflect this change. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.

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