A new office, lab and retail space is possibly coming to 306 W. Franklin St., where The Purple Bowl is currently located.
It’s no secret that the Town of Chapel Hill wants more commercial development here, and there are good reasons for that:
- It could take some of the tax burden off residents who now contribute a higher share of the town’s property taxes than neighboring communities.
- It diversifies our economy. Economically healthy places have multiple industries that help mitigate shocks that come from economic cycles or, in the case of higher education, budget cuts.
- It adds jobs in town, which reduces the vehicle miles so many of us travel to get to Research Triangle Park and beyond, and workers spend money here even if they do not live here.
The Purple Bowl predicament is a sign that we’ve reached the painful stage of economic growth. What could be good for our overall economic well-being could be hell for our local businesses that make this place feel like home.
For us, it’s places like Merritt’s Grill, Caffé Driade and Lantern. For you, it might be Sutton’s Drug Store, the Varsity Theater or Flyleaf Books.
And they are all threatened. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but it could come at any time and in the blink of an eye.
The potential redevelopment of 306 W. Franklin is a chance to try something different.
That’s because it’s a different situation. Usually, the Town is begging businesses to move here and has to provide them incentives to do so. In recent years, Wegmans, Well and Grubb Properties have all received financial incentives to locate or expand in Chapel Hill.