The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Franklin Hotel relocates parking to public lot

“That was an awesome lot. It was a perfect location,” said Brenda Jones, Chapel Hill’s parking superintendent, who hopes losing the lot won’t have a significant effect on the accessibility of downtown.

Jay Patel, owner of The Franklin Hotel, purchased the lot in 2013 with the intention to eventually use it as the site of upscale apartment building The Graduate. This type of project requires a special-use permit from the town of Chapel Hill before construction can begin.

Patel applied for the permit, and while awaiting its approval, leased the lot to the town of Chapel Hill in May 2013. The town installed a meter and offered hourly metered parking until August. Jones said the lot fulfilled a need for Chapel Hill.

When Patel’s permit was approved in October 2014, the design and planning process began for The Graduate. A goal was set to begin construction in January 2016. This meant another yearlong lease with Chapel Hill would no longer be possible.

“We needed to do some preliminary site work this fall that would have made it difficult for the town to operate the lot,” Patel said. “We needed an arrangement that would give us the ability to give a last-minute notice to the town to cancel so we could begin our work.”

Patel offered a shorter lease that would end before construction of The Graduate is scheduled to begin, but the town decided not to renew.

“This was a short-term leased lot,” said Dwight Bassett, a Chapel Hill economic development officer. “Our lease was near the end of its term, and we agreed to let it revert back to the property owners as they prepare for construction.”

For the last couple of months, the lot was open to the public at no charge.

“We decided that we would just leave the lot open as a free-for-all and not worry about enforcing any private parking rules,” Patel said.

Then, last week, Patel and his team determined the parking garage at The Franklin Hotel needed repairs. They decided to close the garage while engineers calculated the renovation process.

“This created a shortage of parking for The Franklin,“ Patel said. “To accommodate parking for hotel guests, we are limiting use of the parking lot behind Chipotle to only hotel guests.”

At this time, guests are issued a parking permit with their room keys at check in. The hotel is enforcing private property towing rules, according to Patel.

Jones said Chapel Hill has no immediate plans to lease or purchase alternative lots.

“We have lots of parking,” Jones said. “It may not be the most convenient parking, but we have enough.”

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.