The Chapel Hill Town Council held a meeting on Sept. 25 to discuss many ongoing projects, including the UNC Master Plan.
According to the University’s website, this developmental plan will “create a welcoming campus,” part of which includes renovating Porthole Alley to create a pathway from campus to the future location of Carolina’s Visitors Center. The Porthole Alley zone contains some local Chapel Hill businesses such as Johnny T-Shirt and Cosmic Cantina.
Gordon Merklein, associate vice chancellor for University Real Estate Operations, started the presentation by discussing the benefits of having the visitor’s center near Porthole Alley.
“(Porthole Alley) is a place that was identified as both a welcoming area, as well as an area where innovation and convergence can happen,” Merklein said.
With Porthole Alley being deemed as a welcoming area, Merklein said it would be a perfect place to put the Carolina's Visitors Center. He also said it would help bring campus visitors to Franklin Street and downtown Chapel Hill.
“The opportunity to bring undergraduate admissions to Franklin Street would really create an opportunity to bring a lot of unique visitors to downtown, where they have the opportunity to see both Chapel Hill and the University,” Merklein said.
For Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger, finding a way to connect the University to the Town is an important aspect of the Master Plan.
“Connectivity is a huge theme in the UNC Master Plan,” Hemminger said. “We’re all working towards plans that help our community together.”
Merklein also said before any drastic changes occur, there will be community input sessions and workshops which will cover topics such as urban density and historic preservation.