CH Parking Fund Depleted As 140 West Revenues Lag

Business Management Director Ken Pennoyer told the Chapel Hill Town Council on Monday that the underground parking deck at 140 West is not as popular as town officials had hoped.

“We know it is less than what we had anticipated; it is certainly less than what it was when Lot 5 was a surface parking lot, in terms of occupancy,” said Pennoyer. “We expected that, ultimately, over time, people would return to that area to park, however, the dynamics between parking underground and parking on the surface are apparently different in terms of people’s behavior. So folks have kind of not used it to the same extent.”

The $55 million dollar complex of condos and retail was built atop what used to be a town-owned parking lot at the corner of Franklin, Church and Rosemary streets.

Chapel Hill partnered with Ram Development to build the two-level underground parking deck, with one level owned and operated by the town as public parking.

But since opening in 2013, parking revenues at 140 West have not met expectations, and Pennoyer said this is negatively impacting the town’s parking fund.

“The parking fund had built up a fund balance, so in the past few years we had been eating into that fund balance, however, the revenues have not caught up enough to carry us further than Fiscal Year 2016,” said Pennoyer. “In FY16, basically the fund’s cash reserves will be exhausted and it will need a subsidy.”

Pennoyer recommended shifting the debt from the 140 West project out of the parking fund to be paid using the town’s debt management fund.

“Currently, the parking fund is paying for the debt service that created the parking deck at 140 West. If we were to have the debt fund take over the payments for that debt, it would bring the parking fund back into alignment temporarily. We would kind of use that as a bailout to solidify the fund.”

He noted this would not a permanent fix and doing so would reduce the town’s ability to borrow money by about 10 percent. Pennoyer, along with Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, suggested that in the short-term, lowering the price of parking at 140 West might be a way to draw in more drivers.

The Council will consider how to best balance the parking fund as part of the 2016 budget planning process. The first public budget forum is scheduled for February 23.

You can read the full update on town finances here.

Biking! Drinking! Recycling! Driving! Housing! Reporting! Dancing!

The newest restaurant in Chapel Hill’s 140 West is celebrating its grand opening on Thursday, March 20.

Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom will mark its grand opening on March 20 with a ribbon cutting at 11:00 a.m.

Old Chicago got its start back in 1976 – and to honor that, the company will offer free pizza for a year for the first 76 customers in line. There will also be a free throw shooting contest outside on the 140 West plaza – and Old Chicago will donate $76 to Farmer Foodshare for each free throw that gets made. (Show the Tar Heels how it’s done!)

Listen to Aaron Keck’s conversation on the Wednesday afternoon news with Old Chicago’s Chris Beckler.

Click here.


For the next two months, the Town of Chapel Hill is inviting you to give your feedback on the latest draft of its Bike Plan.

You can find the plan and a comment form online at

There will be a public forum to discuss the plan on Monday, April 28.


Chatham County officials say drinking water in some parts of the county might have a musty taste and odor for the next month or so – but it’s still safe to drink.

Chatham Water Utilities found higher-than-usual levels of compounds in water recently sampled from Jordan Lake Reservoir, causing the slight difference in taste. Director Leonard McBryde says this is a seasonal issue that’s “not uncommon for water systems that draw raw water from lakes.”

Since it’s seasonal, county officials say it should only last about a month – but in the meantime, residents can minimize the taste difference by refrigerating water in a pitcher, or using a carbon filter.


Orange County will be holding a second public hearing in April to discuss the proposed new solid waste service tax district for unincorporated areas of the county.

The district is being proposed as a way to continue funding the county’s recycling program. The program had been funded with an annual fee attached to residents’ property tax bill, but that fee has been discontinued.

The public hearing takes place on Tuesday, April 1, also at 6:00 p.m. at the Social Services Center at Hillsborough Commons on Mayo Street in Hillsborough.


Chapel Hill-Carrboro’s three high schools are holding “mock crash” events this spring to raise awareness of the dangers of impaired and distracted driving.

The events will begin with an assembly, followed by a crash reenactment in the footbal stadium. A UNC Air Care helicopter will land in the stadium as well, to simulate transport of an injured victim.

The mock crashes will take place at Carrboro High School on Friday, March 21; at East Chapel Hill High on Wednesday, April 9; and at Chapel Hill High on Friday, May 2 during the school day.


The Greater Chapel Hill Association of REALTORS has earned a grant to promote affordable housing in the local community.

The grant comes from the Housing Opportunity Program of the National Association of REALTORS; the Greater Chapel Hill branch will use the funds to produce a housing expo in Chatham County.


Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Amanda Bennett will be on campus Thursday, March 20, speaking as part of UNC’s Women in Media Leadership Series.

Working for the Wall Street Journal, Bennett won the Pulitzer in 1997 for her coverage of the AIDS crisis, and a second Pulitzer with The Oregonian for an expose of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. She’s also the author of “The Cost of Hope,” a book about confronting death in the context of the U.S. healthcare system.

Bennett’s talk will begin at 5:30 p.m. on March 20 in the Freedom Forum Conference Center in Carroll Hall. It’s free and open to the public.


This weekend, a nationally-recognized dance choreographer will be in the Triangle to support arts education in local schools.

Jacques d’Amboise is the principal dancer-choreographer for the NYC Ballet. He’s in town from Thursday through Saturday, March 20-22, to support NC Arts in Action – which provides in-school and afterschool dance programs for kids, based on a model d’Amboise developed back in the 1970s.

On Thursday d’Amboise will be in Chapel Hill, meeting with fourth-graders at Northside Elementary School.

Bicycle Apartments To Bring Hundreds Of Students Closer To Downtown Chapel Hill

CHAPEL HILL – The Bicycle Apartments—a $20-million student-housing project less than a mile from Downtown Chapel Hill—broke ground Wednesday morning. Town leaders say it will re-invigorate the Downtown economy in more ways than one.

Meg McGurk is the executive director for the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership.

“Students are such a vital part of our local economy. Having them in a well-maintained, well-managed living community right Downtown is really tremendous. It’s going to be a great impact for all of us,” McGurk said.

Trinitas Ventures LLC, a national developer of student housing communities, is backing the project. The plan is to knock-down the existing three, 2-story apartment buildings at the Central Park Apartments location at 602 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

194 apartments — or 608 units— will be built in its place. The complex was designed in compliance with the LEED accreditation system.

“This is what we call student housing by design. This is a unique property for Chapel Hill. There isn’t a complex like this yet so this is groundbreaking. This is something that is needed in our community.” McGurk said.


Hard Hats

Bicycle Apartments Groundbreaking Ceremony


The property management staff will live on-site in the complex.

“We thought this would be a perfect opportunity to bring a product where we can re-develop a space and build a by-design complex that is close to the students, close to the center of campus, and close to the center of town,” said Travis Vencel, the vice president of development for Trinitas Ventures.

Aaron Nelson, the president and CEO of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, says he’s excited to bring more students closer to Downtown.

“600 students will be with-in walking distance to the center of Downtown,” Nelson said. “The businesses there are very excited about it because there will be more shoppers, more eyes on the street, and more people coming to and from campus. We’re bringing students in from other communities where they are living right now.”

Nelson says it’s a good time for Downtown Chapel Hill. 140 West, the eight-story $55 million development on Franklin Street, opened last month. The building contains 140 residences and 26,000 sq. ft. of retail.

“Downtown is in a renaissance right now,” Nelson said. “We’re getting additional housing, additional retail, and more restaurants—so it is really an exciting time for Downtown.”

The Bicycle Apartments are slated to open in 2014, just before the beginning of the school year.

Chapel Hill Celebrates 140 West Grand Opening

CHAPEL HILL – Blue LED lights illuminated the 140 West Plaza Friday night after the unveiling of the sculpture, “Exhale,” by landscape artist Mikyoung Kim.

The stainless steal design released fog into the night air as the Studio A DanceArts team moved to music around The Plaza.

The premier of the sculpture signaled that 140 West, the eight-story $55 million development on Franklin Street, is officially open.

WCHL’s Ron Stutts emceed the ceremony, joined by hundreds of Chapel Hillians coming together to celebrate the event.

“We’re going to have some fun in downtown Chapel Hill tonight! Let’s get this party started, ladies and gentlemen!” Stutts exclaimed to the crowd.

He was joined by the band, Jasme Kelly and the Connection, along with many town leaders including Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinscmidt to celebrate.

Former mayor of Chapel Hill, Ken Broun, bought one of the 140 condos.

“It’s a great location. The building is very well planned out and very attractive. We just think it will be great fun to be downtown and near the university,” Broun said.

The building also has 18 affordable housing units. Peter Cummings— of Ram Real Estate, is the project’s developer. He says about 105 residences of the total 140 residences have been sold. The selling prices range from the mid-$300s to more than $1 million.

Chapel Hill 2020 Co-chair George Cianciolo says 140 West mirrors the overall plan the town has for sustainable growth.

“They wanted to see places where the community could come together and this is exactly what we have,” Cianciolo said.

The mixed-use facility also features 26,000 square feet of outdoor public space, including The Plaza, at the corner of West Franklin and Church streets. That’s where the grand opening ceremony was held.

He says it’s Chapel Hill’s version of the Weaver Street lawn.

“I mean I am extremely pleased. I sat through a lot of meetings when this project was being debated,” Cianciolo said.

Talks of the need for something like 140 West began in 2001.

Lime Fresh Mexican Grill is the first business to be up and running. Gigi’s Cupcakes and the Eye Care Center will open this summer. The newest business to sign-on, Old Chicago— a pizzeria and taproom, will open next year. Below the 26,000 square feet of retail space is an underground parking deck.

Aaron Nelson, President and CEO at Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, says this will foster new business in the area.

“This is very exciting for it to finally be done. It was a dream for a long time. The architecture is excellent and the retail is coming,” Nelson said.

He said it provides continuity for East and West Franklin Street. Before 140 West, the space was a parking lot.

“And now you can seamlessly walk all the way down to the west end and it’s wonderful. It adds new parking, new shopping opportunities and new dining,” Nelson said.

Along the Rosemary Street side, you can also check-out the “lacquered narrative interpretation” called “Tar Heel Blues” by Gordan Huether.

140 West Grand Opening Is Almost Here, After A Decade Of Work

CHAPEL HILL – 140 West—the eight-story, $55 million development on Franklin Street – has been more than a decade in the making. And the town will gather Friday night to celebrate its grand opening.

“We knew that there was work to be done in Downtown is we were going to create a more diverse commercial atmosphere and that we needed folks to be living in Downtown,” said Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt.

The public is invited to join the festivities at 7 p.m—Mayor Kleinschmidt will be there along with other town leaders. The event will also feature a dedication of the public art installation, Exhale, created by landscape architect Mikyoung Kim.

RAM Real Estate Chairman Peter Cummings; the company signed-on as the developer in 2005.

“There are opportunities like 140 West that are in locations that have the potential to have a significant impact outside its boundaries,” Cummings says.

He says it’s been a long process but seeing the final product makes it worth it.

“I saw the lights on in the building and if you’re in this business and you don’t get excited when you see the lights on in the building at night—you should be in a different business,” Cummings said.

Both men say 140 West is a piece of the puzzle of how to connect West and East Franklin Street.

“We’re hoping that this will create a new sense of vibrancy particularly in that part of Downtown. We are expecting it will be of great benefit to our commercial tax base and continue to inspire others to invest as well,” Kleinschmidt said.

The land was originally a parking lot. Talks of the need for something like 140 West began in 2001

“What we’re hoping is that folks can really experience the fullness of what Downtown offers,” Kleinschmidt said. “When you park you car at one end of the street, there isn’t a space where you decide to turn around walk back. This provides that bridge.”

The mixed-use facility features 26,000 square feet of outdoor public space, including the area called The Plaza, at the corner of West Franklin and Church streets. The site also has 26,000 square feet of retail space.

Lime Fresh Mexican Grill is the first business to be up and running. Gigi’s Cupcakes and Eye Car Center are slated to open over the summer as well.

Above the retail space are 140 condos, including 18 affordable housing units. Below is an underground parking deck.

Cummings says about 105 of the total 140 residences have been sold. He says the selling prices range from the mid-$300s to more than $1 million.

“It’s an opportunity to inspire other investment in Downtown to help create that critical and diverse commercial environment,” Kleinschmidt said.
Free Public Parking Information:

The following lots will be available on a first-come, first-served basis:

• 140 West Parking Deck – Level P-1 – Free parking after 4 p.m.
• University Square West Lot Blues Spaces Only – Free after 6 p.m.
• West Rosemary Lot – 104 W. Rosemary St., Free after 6 p.m.
• Malette Street Municipal Lot 1.25 per hour — Free after 8 p.m.
• UNC Development Lot – 307 W. Rosemary St., available after 5 p.m.