This column is a part of an ongoing series featuring Chapel Hill Town Council and Carrboro Board of Aldermen candidates. Renuka Soll is a candidate for Chapel Hill Town Council.
Too many of our downtown stores have closed their doors. I spoke with local businesses (both in and out of downtown) to learn why these places are suffering. I want our business community to grow and succeed.
Businesses not located downtown said that they don’t want to be there because parking is limited, making it harder for customers. However, businesses that are downtown mentioned the high rent and the long trek for students from the campus center. Even with these problems, many businesses prefer being downtown because they get customers through foot traffic.
Based on my conversations with store owners, downtown businesses get most of their clientele from people who live or work there. We can strengthen Chapel Hill’s downtown through smart growth that will stimulate its economy while at the same time maintaining its culture of small, local businesses and historical look and feel. If more people live downtown and small 40-70 person start-ups were located there, enough people would frequent the stores to keep our local businesses thriving. We just need to do it right.
We can do the following to revitalize our downtown: