The Purple Bowl will relocate to 505 W. Franklin St. following the purchase of its current leased space by Longfellow Real Estate Partners. The current space will be developed into a 320,000 square foot building.
According to an email sent to the Chapel Hill Town Council on Oct. 23 by Paula and Taylor Gilland, mother and son owners of The Purple Bowl, they came to an agreement with Longfellow to move out of the business's current space in summer 2024.
Paula and Taylor Gilland said in the email that The Purple Bowl was committed to the move and “will no longer push back against the Longfellow project and instead will focus on creating a new community space further down West Franklin Street.”
The location of 505 W. Franklin St., which formerly housed the Top of the Hill Distillery, was acquired by Northpond Partners in 2021 and will also house THRIVE Coworking.
Taylor Gilland said the relocation process started in November 2022 when he heard the building that The Purple Bowl is in would be redeveloped. He said, when he initially heard about the building being redeveloped, the business considered closing down.
He also said the Town has been "pretty terrible to deal with" throughout the process and did not help the restaurant find its new space. Taylor Gilland said in the email that the Town should do more to help Chapel Hill retain its local flavor instead of encouraging development, which can cause hardship to small local businesses.
Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger said the Town was not involved in promoting the Longfellow purchase of 306 W. Franklin St. She said the town council wasn’t aware that the building purchase had even occurred until after it happened.
She also said research has showed the Town needs more life science and wet lab facilities — like those to be developed at 306 W. Franklin St. — to provide the jobs that have previously led graduates away from Chapel Hill.
Dwight Bassett, the director of economic development and parking for the Town, said this type of development will aim to fill a workforce gap that can support downtown businesses year round.