The town may remove the 65 parking spots at 415 W. Franklin St. near McDonald’s.
The town of Chapel Hill is exploring options to redevelop the half-acre lot by replacing it with a multistory building.
“As a part of looking at continuing to grow our downtown and to meet the needs of our downtown, the (Town) Council had the interest in exploring the potential of developing Lot 3 (415 W. Franklin St.) as a project,” said Dwight Bassett, economic development officer for the town. “They have some specific interests. One was some specific type of usage on the first floor and also accommodating some affordable housing for downtown.”
The town has considered a parking deck in the space behind the new development, said Bassett.
“We have talked to property owners about looking at the potential to acquire that property,” said Bassett.
“It is strictly an exploration of potential to build the building and an exploration of, ‘Could we accommodate the parking in another manner if we did build the building?’” said Bassett. “It’s sort of a two-part question, and we’re very early in the process.”
Proposals from firms interested in redeveloping the lot were due on Sept. 9.
Brenda Jones, parking superintendent of the Parking Services Division, said one issue people have with parking in Chapel Hill is that there isn’t sufficient parking near locations that people want to go.
“People want convenient parking, but sometimes they have to walk a block or two,” said Jones.
“The largest popular opinion is that we don’t have enough parking,” she said. “But we have some areas that are underutilized, so I won’t say that we don’t have enough parking.”
In attempting to expand parking, the town is limited due to its size and other factors, such as the University, said Jones.
“Whenever something comes up, the first thing to go is parking spaces and then you’re going to build something that requires parking,” said Jones. “It’s kind of a double-edged sword.”
The reaction to the proposed plan has been mixed.
“I don’t think they should get rid of it,” said Charles Gear, a Chapel Hill resident. “I think it should be there for the students because a lot of the students don’t have anywhere to park at, and a lot of students need to park their cars there to get to the school.”
Chuck McCauley, a Carrboro resident, was neutral toward the town’s plan.
“I’ve never seen anyone park over there too much anyway,” said McCauley. “But if they’re getting rid of it they should use it for office or retail and put more parking up there.”