Changing landscape

The Walgreens contingent of lawyers, designers and architects walked away from the Town Council meeting Monday night with broad smiles on their faces.

Who could blame them? The drug-store project proposed for the corner of Estes Drive and East Franklin Street looks classy, definitely upgrades a piece of property that has seen better days and got some concessions on a few key traffic issues — the median proposed for the South Estes side was eliminated, and the one on East Franklin was reduced from 4 feet wide to 3 feet wide.

And three council members – Harrison, Greene and Rich — praised the project. The council passed the special-use permit unanimously.

The evening just kept getting better for the Walgreens contingent. The council earlier had amended the Land Use Management Ordinance to include a new definition, “medical office,” and slightly altered the definition of “clinic.” You see, the LUMO amendment will affect Chapel Hill Center, the office complex that abuts the Walgreens property. The LUMO change opens the door for an influx of medical offices and clinics in the Center. And putting in a few doctor’s offices and clinics in that complex will only add to the flow of foot traffic through the doors of the Walgreens.

With the recent closing of Kerr Drug at University Mall, and the fact that there are even more medical offices and clinics nearby, well, the future looks quite rosy for Walgreens.

Even the further discussion of the nightmare known as the East Franklin-Estes intersection couldn’t dampen the mood. Bike loops at the traffic lights will come online when the townwide traffic light coordination enhancements kick in. At some point the state will widen Estes Drive. Close calls between vehicles and bikes will continue for a while.

But for the time being, the prospect of a Walgreens being built at that site is cause for celebration. The other improvements will come with time.

–Don Evans

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
Previous Post
Next Post
Leave a comment


  1. Mark Marcoplos

     /  March 9, 2010

    I thought I would see some positive comments from all the folks who have peppered this blog and other outlets with their charges of an anti-business Chapel Hill and a Town Council that has no clue when it comes to economic development.

  2. Runner

     /  March 9, 2010


    In my business, the best compliment you get is no comment at all. As long as our leaders do the right thing, we can do our own thing.

  3. Fred Black

     /  March 9, 2010

    Another false dichotomy, Mark. We all know complying with the law makes a council “pro-business” just like sleeping in a garage makes you a car.

  4. Mark Marcoplos

     /  March 9, 2010

    Fred – They did more than “comply with the law”. They amended the LUMO.

  5. Nancy Oates

     /  March 9, 2010

    The irony is the council made these pro-business approvals without input from the two council members labeled pro-business. Both Czajkowski and Pease were out of town.

  6. Bill

     /  March 10, 2010

    What is truly amazing is all of the angst, celebration, and other such prattle about a doggone drugstore!

    In any other town, it would just be an announcement that Walgreens was opening on such and so street.

    Of course, Chapel Hill will never get to that point, but this is a step in the right direction, business wise.