New Retail Building Coming to Eastgate

The Eastgate BP station will be demolished to make way for a new retail building.

The redevelopment plans where submitted by the Federal Realty Investment Trust in August.

The plans seek to replace the gas station with a one-story building that will host three or four businesses, according to Chapel Hill town planner Jay Heikes.

“So what’s going there is a little bit less than 8,000 square feet of retail,” said Heikes. “No tenant has been identified yet, or at least shared with us.”

The project is still awaiting zoning approval but Heikes expects the plans to be approved.

Construction at Eastgate BP. Photo via Blake Hodge.

Construction at Eastgate BP. Photo via Blake Hodge.

“The actual demolition of that station, as well as the grading and preparation for the new building, is set to get a zoning approval either late this week or early next week,” said Heikes.

Once the zoning is approved the developers will still need additional approval before new construction can begin.

“Once they do that they do need to seek some additional permits but this is the case with all private construction projects in town,” said Heikes.

Construction is expected to begin sometime in the spring.

The lease had expired on the BP station and the property owner of the Eastgate shopping center decided to redevelop that location.

Construction at Eastgate BP. Photo via Blake Hodge.

Construction at Eastgate BP. Photo via Blake Hodge.

The new construction is taking place in the Ephesus-Fordham Zoning District. The town created this zoning district in July 2014. According to the town, the purpose is to renew and transform an area characterized by strip malls, parking lots, confusing roadways and traffic congestion.

The plans for the new construction involves removing the service road that runs parallel to Fordham and using that space for pedestrians and bike lanes.

This is the fourth project to be proposed in this zoning area since it was adopted last year in an attempt to redevelop the area.

Flash Flood Watch

Less than one year ago, heavy rains flooded Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Are we in for another round this week?

National Weather Service senior forecaster Scott Sharp says the possibility for flooding is certainly out there.

“The showers and storms today will just prime the pump for additional showers and thunderstorm activity we’re expecting later (Tuesday) and more so during the day on Wednesday and Wednesday night,” Sharp says. “We’re looking at rainfall totals during the course of the day today and early this evening probably anywhere from a quarter to maybe a half an inch across the Triangle. The highest potential for heavy rainfall will be late (Tuesday) through Wednesday into Wednesday evening as we pick up an additional inch to maybe two inches of rainfall during that time period.”

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More than seven inches of rain fell on Chapel Hill-Carrboro on and around June 30. Bolin Creek overflowed flooding East Gate shopping center, Camelot Village apartments, Chapel Hill Town Hall, Granville Towers and many other places.

A flash flood watch is in effect from Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. until Thursday at 6:00 a.m.

“We are expecting the weather conditions to start to improve by Thursday–maybe after lunchtime or so,” Sharp says. “It looks like right now Friday into Saturday it looks like we should see much better, more tranquil weather conditions during that time.”

Remember: a watch means flooding is possible; a warning means flooding is happening or imminent.

Eastgate Ready For Business, Concern Remains

CHAPEL HILL -After flooding from nearly seven inches of rain in a 24-hour period left damaged homes and businesses, at least one business owner at Eastgate Shopping Center says she’s concerned you’ll be less likely to shop there.

“Our customers are concerned about ongoing problems in the Eastgate area that might lead to more flooding,” says Keilayn Skutvik, Store Manager of Ten Thousand Villages. “I tend to think that the level of rain that we had during that week made it almost impossible to accommodate it. I don’t feel like this particular area is prone to more flooding, unless it’s extraordinary circumstances like that. I hope that people feel like it’s a safe place to shop.”

One month after the flooding, all the businesses in Eastgate Shopping Center, off of Franklin Street, are finally open and ready for customers.

Skutvik says the shop was closed for two weeks, but luckily did not lose many products.

“The entire store’s flooring had to be replaced, which resulted in about $10,000 in loss of sales,” says Skutvik.

Skutvik estimated that Ten Thousand Villages ultimately lost nearly $25,000 in sales during the closure.

Doncaster Outlet faced some repairs as well, but Store Manager Cathy Steed says she’s unsure of the total costs.

“We had to pull up the floors, the base boards, some of the sheet rock, and then we had to have the dehumidifiers and fans to dry everything out,” says Steed. “We had the floor put back in. We put carpet, baseboards back in.”

Assistant Manager at Massage Envy, Gabrielle Harris says repairs included replacing carpets, some walls, and furniture, along with painting.

After closing for exactly three weeks, Harris says Massage Envy is now trying to attract customers with offers including aromatherapies and sugar foot scrubs.

She says Massage Envy is still undergoing renovations, with two more massage therapy rooms that need carpeting.

“We’re just happy,” Harris says. “The therapists are happy to be back at work. I’m happy to be back at work, and the clients are definitely happy. We’re still doing a few renovations, but we’ll be back to 100 percent in no time.”

Courtesy Takes a Holiday

     My friend’s parents visited us not too long ago, just before Halloween.  While her dad was in the front passenger seat of my car he commented on my use of the turn signal, the brakes and a friendly wave.  He noticed also that I was far from alone.
     Being from the northeast and now living in South Florida he found our southern civility to be noteworthy.  I felt proud to have adopted these manners and glad to be living among people who prize them.  
     If I were writing a screenplay, right about now you’d see calendar pages flipping and Christmas decorations going up.  With that visual assistance, you’ll know I’m now writing about the recent weeks since Thanksgiving.  
     I’ve written previously about my errand runs and this time of year that list (like Santa’s) grows only longer.  Being out and about so much I feel sure I’m qualified to ask the following question:  Is courtesy illegal in parking lots?  All those lovely drivers who waved me over at the first click of my blinker are now aiming to mow me down as I return my shopping cart.  If they are not actively gunning for me and/or a loved one (or the older gentleman down the row), they are likely stopped in the center of a lane, their own blinker on, letting no one pass.  Perhaps they fear not blocking the lane will cause them to lose the coveted spot but it also means my car is idling while I can’t leave nor can I find my own parking.  
     I’m not talking about giant, teeming regional shopping centers; I’m talking about Eastgate, University Mall and Village Plaza.  
     Yes, I know, stress abounds during the holiday season.  Everyone has too much to do and too little time but is that any reason to abandon reason?
     Doesn’t it take away a bit of that driver’s seasonal joy to cause aggravation to others?  No, it doesn’t get evened out if you toss a coin into a charity kettle or even if you write a big check.  People’s gift to each other this time of year should be kindness…. one step beyond courtesy.  
     We’re just a few days before the 2011 holiday season ends and I’m already putting together my wish-list for next year:  Peace on Earth, A Robust Economy and Polite Parking Lots.  How do you think I’ll do?  Maybe I’d better plan for my friend’s parents to return in early autumn. 

     Does holiday time leave you with something to get off your chest?  Other than that questionable sweater from Aunt So-and-so.  Please, leave it below or write to me at  I hate to Grinch alone!