Downtown Chapel Hill

Downtown Blog

Spring Cleaning is Coming to Franklin Street!

Notice some changes on Franklin Street? Town of Chapel Hill and contract crews are repairing sidewalks, pruning or removing trees, moving newspaper bins, installing new bike racks, removing planters and some signage as part of streetscape improvements to the 100 block of East Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill.

These improvements are consistent with the Town Council's adopted 2009 Downtown Streetscape Master Plan and are intended to make this most heavily used area of downtown safer and more pedestrian friendly.  Much of the tree pruning has been completed. It will be necessary to remove a few dead or rapidly declining trees that are becoming a safety concern -- as well as others to improve lighting.  And a couple of trees will be replaced. 

 The work is similar to the successfully completed improvements made recently on West Franklin Street, Rosemary Street, and Henderson Street.

"We are excited to improve the appearance of the historical block of East Franklin Street, as well as make downtown more enjoyable, productive, and safer for all," said Meg McGurk, executive director of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership.

Assistant Police Chief Alonzo Jaynes, who has worked on the streetscape project together with McGurk, said the improvements focus on safety hazards and accessibility. "Tree pruning will increase visibility to storefronts and signage, as well as make downtown brighter," he said.

The improvements reflect recommendations developed by the Downtown Partnership in collaboration with Town staff during the recent downtown walking audit project.  The changes respond to concerns identified by business owners, residents and Town staff.  The group of about 15 people was assembled by the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership to conduct a comprehensive audit of downtown, identifying improvements to enhance the pedestrian experience and improve the overall experience of downtown.

The audit focused primarily on the 100 blocks of East Franklin Street and Rosemary Street. Auditors assessed the physical assets of the street as well their general feelings, based on:

*  Pedestrian Experience - The physical assets on the sidewalk that a pedestrian encounters throughout downtown, such as  planters, trashcans, newspaper bins, and signs, can both positively and negatively shape one's experience downtown.
*  Building Design - The physical assets of a building or storefront, including awnings, facades, windows, paint or brick condition, and signage, that can potentially be the reason someone patronizes a business.

Work on the streetscape improvements will begin the evening of Sunday, March 8, with some work being done after 9 p.m. and in the early morning hours, or when there is low pedestrian activity. 

Work will continue for about six weeks, weather and other unforeseen circumstances permitting. Sidewalk closures are not anticipated, however there may be changes to bus stops with advanced notification.

For more information, contact:
Meg McGurk, Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, 919-967-9440 /   or  Assistant Police Chief Alonzo Jaynes, Town of Chapel Hill, 919-968-2869    /