The intersection of Franklin and Columbia streets, one of the busiest and most prominent intersections in Chapel Hill, currently has three empty storefronts. However, new tenants and continued construction suggest a more bustling street corner could soon come.
Three of the street corners on the intersection — the former Seafood Destiny and MidiCi Italian Kitchen locations and the upcoming Raising Cane’s franchise — are all currently not open for business.
However, Stephanie Cobert, the director of marketing for the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, said the idea that downtown Chapel Hill is overwhelmingly vacant is a misconception.
Chapel Hill is currently operating at 90 percent capacity for businesses, according to Cobert.
"That place being such a prime location and being the gateway to downtown and the corner that everyone thinks of when they think of Franklin Street, a lot more people think that downtown is emptier than it actually is," she said.
One of the three empty spaces used to be occupied by MidiCi Italian Kitchen, which shut its doors in summer 2019. The space has remained empty since, but there is no longer a for lease sign in its window.
“The former MidiCi space currently has a lease,” Cobert said. “We hope to announce that tenant soon, but there is something coming to that building.”
Claudia Harvey, a first-year UNC student, said she thinks Franklin Street could benefit from having more fast food options because college students on a budget make up a large portion of its customer base.
“It's made me wonder about the longevity of restaurants and stores on Franklin because their main demographic is college students,” she said. “So like, if they're not doing well with college kids, how long can their business stay in business?”