About $1.6 million in improvements are planned to match the surrounding luxury apartment aesthetic in the area around Shortbread Lofts and 140 West Franklin.
The improvements will also address current Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility challenges to ensure compliance with federal regulations and ease of access to people with disabilities.
UNC first-year Evan Thompson said he is excited about the new renovations.
“My parents will probably be happy too that the street will be better lit. When I walk on that sidewalk it doesn’t feel very safe, and I think lights will help that.”
While the section of sidewalk in front of Shortbread Lofts will remain unchanged, the rest of the sidewalk will be drastically improved.
Emily Cameron, project manager for the curb, gutter and streetscape improvements to Rosemary Street, said this plan has been in the works for quite some time.
Cameron also said other improvements in the plan, like the addition of sidewalk accessibility and renovation, was a logical next step.
“It’s kind of like replacing furniture or painting a wall in your home,” she said. “While we are doing this, we can make some other repairs or corrections, so, in this case, it is pretty extensive.”
The entire project includes new curbs and gutters, driveway aprons, accessible crosswalk ramps, walls, sidewalk sections, amenity strips, lighting and utilities and street repaving.
Cameron said construction for the curbs, gutters and sidewalks is anticipated to start in mid-May directly following UNC’s Spring Commencement and pending the town council’s approval.
The construction will continue through the summer into the fall, when a separate contract for the street resurfacing will begin.
“We hope that it will be consistent with what was built in 2011 across from Shortbread, which included a brick strip behind the curb, along with trees, a 5-inch concrete sidewalk, lighting, trash cans and bike racks,” she said. “That is what most of the renovations will look like.”
Chapel Hill Town Council member Michael Parker said he is confident a bid will be achieved. The council will vote to approve the renovations May 9.
“I think Rosemary Street should be one of the most important streets in the town, certainly the second most important street in downtown, and I think for far too long it has been neglected,” he said.
But in order to move forward with the project, the town needs to gain permission from property owners behind the curb.
Acquiring the permissions will give the town the right to work on and maintain the sidewalks, notably during snow and ice storms.
Under this provision, Chapel Hill will be able to clear the new Rosemary Street sidewalks in the event of a , instead of relying on the property owners to remove the that typically results.
The town is in the process of releasing public information about the project, and will begin to update its residents regularly as the start of construction gets closer.