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.