Need lots of parking

After a sojourn downtown yesterday at lunch, I’m convinced that the longer 140 West Franklin remains Parking Lot #5, the better off we’ll be.

I’d talked with Dwight Bassett, Chapel Hill’s economic development officer, about the two-hour tour of downtown he was leading beginning at 12:30 that afternoon to prepare the downtown planning team for the Q&A following the “Let’s Talk About Downtown Chapel Hill” forum today at Top of the Hill. (The morning session will be 8:30-10; the afternoon session is 4:30-6. Use the East Franklin Street entrance, between Walgreens and GameStop, to get to the restaurant’s Great Room on the second floor.)

Media were invited on the tour, and always looking for the inside story, Don and I thought we’d tag along. We hopped in the car and drove downtown. We were surprised to see that the Wallace Deck had its “full” sign lit, as did Parking Lot #2 and the privately owned parking deck across the street, and cars were backed up into the street waiting to get into a fenced-in lot next door.

So we continued on to Parking Lot #5, which still had spaces, perhaps because people were cowed by the pay-station concept. We dutifully noted our parking stall number and waited behind three people lined up at the pay station. When it came our turn, we followed the instructions, such as they were, on the pay station, and with the help of the eight people waiting behind us, figured out how to purchase two hours of parking.

By the time we hustled up to Spanky’s, where the tour group of about a dozen folks in business attire had gathered, we felt like batter-dipped chicken, what with the thin sheen of sweat exposed to all the pollen. Just looking at the men in dark business suits made me rethink the advisability of a two-hour hike on sun-baked concrete at the brightest part of a hot day. We got to the group, then kept on walking, down Franklin Street as we weighed our commitment to the blog.

In the end, it was just too hot, and as we turned around and walked back, we noticed that the tour group had lost half its members before it got to the end of the first block.

But we’d already prepaid two hours of parking, so we stayed downtown for lunch. When we got back to our parking stall, another car was waiting for our spot.
— Nancy Oates

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1 Comment

  1. Nancy, I had a prior commitment but planned to attend. I drove Downtown about 12:15 and found the same problem – lots all full. By the time I parked in Lot #5 (which had its customary long lines and confused customers at the self pay booths – seen it for years now) the tour was already off and running.

    I opted for a quick lunch of pho at Lime & Basil thinking that the tour would eventually wend its way towards West Franklin. Never saw it – did they stick to 100 block?