The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Eastgate Crossing stormwater construction to complete within the next month

20230330-Breiner-City-construction-eastgate-crossing-2-2.jpg

A sign by Kite Realty Group assuring guests that all businesses are open despite the construction happening in the middle of the Eastgate Crossing parking lot.

About a third of the parking spaces in the Eastgate Crossing shopping center in Chapel Hill are currently unusable due to construction. But, work should be done within the next month.

The construction has put a strain on customers and businesses in a shopping center that is usually pressed for space, especially on weekends, said Elie Abou-Rjeileh, the co-owner of Olmaz Jewelers, a store in Eastgate Crossing.

“We already have issues with parking, especially after the pandemic, now that people are back out shopping, and with the construction and the construction crew taking almost a third of the parking over, so that kind of makes it harder to find parking spots,” he said. "Sometimes even our employees can’t find a parking spot when they go to lunch and come back.”

However, Abou-Rjeileh said the construction is necessary. 

The purpose of the project is to mitigate flooding problems in the area, as the shopping center was built over a section of Booker Creek. The project began on March 1 and is expected to take between 45 to 60 days to complete.

Chad Pickens, the manager of Great Outdoors Provision Co. in Eastgate Crossing, has been working at the store since 2011 and experienced major flooding events in his time there.

The last major flooding event was in 2018 when nearly 10 inches of water leaked into stores, causing damage to inventory and store interiors, he said. At one point, inventory even began to float out of the back of stores.

“A new stormwater feature like this can help control that level of flooding, and you never can stop Mother Nature, but this would be a step in the right direction,” Pickens said.

At the time, stores used sandbags to block flooding. Now, many stores, including Olmaz Jewelers, use metal floodgates that can be installed at front and back entrances before storms.

Kite Realty, the owner of Eastgate Crossing, worked with Chapel Hill Stormwater Management Senior Engineer Ernest Odei-Larbi to develop a plan for construction, including showing how traffic would still be able to move around the construction zone.

A mechanism called a gate valve will be installed during the construction process. During rain storms, the valve will collect some of the water that falls and hold the water until Booker Creek subsides after the storm. Then, it will release the water slowly into the creek and prevent a larger “peak flow," when the creek floods into the shopping center, Pickens said.

There will also be a water quality treatment element added to help reduce water pollution from the runoff, Odei-Larbi said. 

He said while the valve will help with smaller storms, it will still not be fully effective in large storm events like the one in 2018. 

The area is naturally a floodplain, he said, meaning that trying to contain a large amount of water instead of letting it follow its natural path to the creek will cause more environmental problems.

“I don’t want you to get the impression that what they are doing there is going to stop flooding,” he said. “We cannot control the water flooding because that area is already in the creek’s path.”

Eastgate Crossing stores received a memo from Kite Realty Property Manager Emily Jorgensen alerting them of the project on Feb. 27. 

In the memo, Jorgensen said the company had spoken to contractors to try to complete the work as quickly as possible to minimize any effect on business.

“It's very affecting for customers, for staff and for businesses, but the communication part of it has been really good,” Pickens said. “Construction folks have been really courteous and have done a good job of limiting its impact on the rest of the shopping center."

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

Special Print Edition
The Daily Tar Heel Victory Paper for February 5, 2024

More in Business

More in City & County

More in The OC Report

More in City & State

More in Parking


More in Chapel Hill