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Chapel Hill Lays Foundation Stone For Innovation Center To Boost Downtown Economy :: WRAL.com

– The city of Chapel Hill is moving ahead with a $ 39 million plan to boost its economy by renovating old parking decks to create a hub of innovation or businesses and students.

There were signs of construction on East Rosemary Street in downtown Chapel Hill on Tuesday.

Chapell Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger calls this project groundbreaking. Development in downtown Chapel Hill has been stagnant for over a decade, she said.

“It’s just so much more than a parking deck,” said Hemminger. “It’s the first step in opening up all of these other possibilities.”

The project will also add a new laboratory and office building, more green space, and additional pedestrian and bike paths.

Construction project in Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill is consolidating two of the parking decks on East Rosemary Street. The Wallace parking deck across the street will be transformed into a six-story office space for startups and research companies.

For the new structure, fees will be paid from parking tickets, according to Hemminger: “The taxpayers don’t pay for that”.

“We have been trying for years to find out how we can revitalize our inner city and bring companies and people here 12 months a year. We love our university, but a city cannot survive nine months in a year, ”she added.

She said the idea started in 2019, initially to improve parking accessibility. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill joined the city’s project in hopes of creating a space that would connect future entrepreneurs and business leaders.

“We are trying to create an innovation corridor between the university and downtown Chapel Hill,” said Kevin Guskiewicz, UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor.

The new parking decks will provide resources to UNC-Chapel Hill students through internships and co-working spaces, the mayor said.

The project is estimated to create 800 additional jobs and $ 50 million in investment. The construction time for the square is expected to take about a year.

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