Major changes under way on Chapel Hill’s Franklin Street

Major changes under way on Chapel Hill's Franklin Street (Image 1)

Crews worked to clear out the Krispy Kreme store on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill Monday. The recently closed doughnut shop is just part of the changing face of the popular road near campus.

It’s several chains to vacate the street recently. Others include Cold Stone Creamery and Caribou Coffee.

“It seems like there are normally all those places that are here for six months, a year, that change around all the time, but it’s been really sad to see some of those long-term places either move or change,” said Stephanie Blair, who just graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Jasmin Mediterranean recently filled a spot left by Qdoba. It’s across the street from the old University Square shopping center, which sits empty and ready for demolition beginning this month.

“There’s been a lot of closings recently on Franklin Street. The rents are still high and eventually maybe it will balance out, I’m not sure. I think the town, where it used to be only the main block of Franklin Street, I think it’s growing both directions,” said Eddie Williams, owner of Time Out Restaurant.

Time Out moved out of its University Square location in September 2014 after 36 years in the same spot. It has since moved to another Franklin Street location at the intersection with Henderson Street.

Cousins Properties Incorporated and Northwood Ravin announced this month a plan to develop the old University Square into a project called, “Carolina Square,” a $120 million project to include 246 apartments and 158,000 square feet of office space and 42,000 square feet of retail space.

“To see it actually happening, it will be interesting to come back and see what it is,” Blair said.

Gordon Merklein, executive director of real estate development for UNC, said the university will house three groups in the space – the Carolina Population Center, Biostatistics and Epidemiology.

He said the university will make an announcement May 27 regarding the development.

Meanwhile, Williams has seen a decrease in business since moving Time Out.

“A lot of it’s parking. A lot of it. Even for customers who know we’re here, it’s not as convenient,” he said.

He expects that to change with time, though he understands the difficulty adjusting to change after nearly four decades in one spot.

Copyright 2015 WNCN. All rights reserved.

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