Construction in downtown Chapel Hill has caused many disruptions for residents and local business owners this year, but progress has been made toward the completion of each project with hopes to improve conditions for residents and enhance tourism.
This year, three main projects have been the focus of Chapel Hill’s ongoing construction: Rosemary Street improvements, the Marriott AC Hotel and Carolina Square.
Carolina Square is a $120 billion mixed-use development project that includes three buildings, a public lawn and more than 200,000 square feet of office, retail and residential space. Currently, it has a tentative opening date of July 15, 2017.
The Square is under construction at 123 W. Franklin Street and will include downtown’s first outlet and grocery store, Target.
In August, Chapel Hill Town Council member Michael Parker said the project will create more public space and retail options within the downtown area.
“I think having the stores, particularly Target, will provide some really useful options for folks who would like to do more shopping downtown,” he said in August. “There will be about an acre of open space in Carolina Square interior, so we’ll have sort of that town square we’ve been looking for.”
The Square is expected to bring in more than $1.78 million in gross tax revenue. The Square’s estimated tax value is $106 million.
Rosemary Street Improvement Project
The Rosemary Street Improvement Project is an ongoing renovation of the road between Henderson Street and Merritt Mill Road by repaving, widening sidewalks, installing new LED lights and replacing gutters. The goal of the project is to create a safer and more pleasant environment for pedestrians and is funded by $1.6 million in voter-approved bonds.
The construction was projected to be finished on Nov. 23, but continued after the Thanksgiving holiday. Town officials have not released a new specific end date for construction yet.
The construction has caused difficulties for many local businesses by deterring customers and has frustrated locals.
Jacqueline Britton, owner of Glenn’s Tailor Shop on East Rosemary Street, said her business found the construction extremely inconvenient.
“Some days it was just awful. Some of my customers could not get in and out of my shop because of the sidewalk construction. Some days I worked and nobody even came,” she said in December. “The city should accommodate everyone for lost wages.”
Clare Bocklage, a UNC sophomore and Chapel Hill resident, agreed.
“The overall outcome is going to be beneficial, but currently it’s a nuisance and is causing some issues with students crossing the street,” Bocklage said in December. “It’s kind of dangerous because, as we know, Carolina drivers are already crazy enough.”
The Marriott AC Hotel will be located on the former site of the restaurant Los Potrillos, on the intersection of Rosemary Street and Church Street. It will be the second largest hotel in downtown Chapel Hill and will include 123 rooms and 112 parking spaces with a proposed floor area of 68,300 square feet.
The hotel is expected to bring $192,000 in general tax revenue for the town. In November 2015, Chapel Hill Town Council member Maria Palmer said she believes this will be a good development for the town.
“It will provide employment, and it works well with other businesses,” Palmer said in November 2015. “It will also help bring tourism to downtown (Chapel Hill). The AC Hotel has been successful in other college towns.”
Construction of the AC Hotel is expected to be completed by June 2017.
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