CHAPEL HILL — With the ceremonial strokes of six shovels, ground was broken Wednesday at 140 West to set the stage for construction of a long-awaited $55 million mixed-use project downtown.
Peter D. Cummings, chairman of Florida-based Ram, said 140 West will connect east and west Franklin Streets and breathe new life into a once vibrant business center.
“First, it will simply bring more people and life and energy to the street,” Cummings said. “And secondly, it will help to stitch together east and west by removing a surface parking lot and replacing it with residences, shops and a public space containing an extraordinary sculpture that has been designed by Mikyoung Kim.”
Mikyoung Kim, a world renowned public artist and landscape architect, has been hired to design the public plaza and its centerpiece sculpture.
When completed in about two years, 140 West, set back from the corner of Franklin and Church streets, will stand four stories tall along Franklin Street before stepping back to eight stories tall at the center.
In addition to 26,000 square feet of ground-level retail space, there will be a two-level, 337-space underground parking deck with a dedicated public parking level owned and operated by the Town of Chapel Hill.
The residential portion of the project will include 140 signature homes built above the retail level to bring new residents into the downtown community, including 18 that are earmarked for affordable housing.
Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said the decades-old discussion about 140 West has inspired similar development throughout the Franklin Street corridor and beyond.
Kleinschmidt cited the Greenbridge mixed-use development, the 300 East Main Street project in Carrboro and the University Square redevelopment across Franklin Street from 140 West as examples of projects inspired by conversations about 140 West.
“We all need to reflect on the fact that this project here on this lot is more than just creating a mixed-use space on this property,” Kleinschmidt said. “It has served as an inspiration for additional private investment all through the corridor, and it didn’t just stop at the Chapel Hill line either.”
Town Manager Roger Stancil said the fact that the groundbreaking for 140 West is happening in such a tough economic environment is a testament to the town’s financial strength and the vitality of its partner, Ram.
“There aren’t many places these days having this kind of groundbreaking happen in their downtown,” Stancil said. “And between this project and the University Square project across the street, they will only both contribute to strengthening and enhancing the Chapel Hill mojo that we still have and making it even stronger and brighter.”
via The Herald-Sun