Like Larry Trollinger, owner of Ken’s Quickie Mart, who bought the shop “from a guy named Ken” back in 1970.
“When they start tearing it down is the day I retire,” he says. “There’s no where else for me to go. If you’re not a corporate store, you can’t survive out here. They sell beer cheaper than I can buy it.”
Larry’s got farmland in Orange County to escape to, but he doesn’t like going out like this.
“It pisses me off a little bit,” he says between customers. “It just disrupts so many people's lives.”
Gordon Merklein, UNC’s executive director of real estate development, says demolition likely won’t start until next January. The project has been approved by the Town Council but still needs to obtain a number of permits from town staff, a process that could take six to nine months. Most tenants have been working on relocation plans for more than a year; some have been offered the option of staying put on a month-to-month basis when leases expire in June, Merklein says.
Don Ingle, owner of Chapel Hill Barber Shop, was 22 when he opened up in 1967, before construction was even complete on University Square.
“I'm a little heartbroken to have to leave after all these years,” Don says. “But I found a nice place in University Mall. I think things will work out for us.”
Indeed, University Square’s loss is University Mall’s gain, as many businesses will be headed there or are at least in the process of considering it. (See bottom of page.)
The folks at Fine Feathers, which has been at University Square since 1976, still are exploring options for a new location. Manager Pam Patterson described the move as “bittersweet.”
“I love our beautiful space here, and we have so much history here,” she says. “But I do believe change has to occur in order to grow. I love Chapel Hill. I loved it when it was a quiet, sleepy little village, but I love it now too. I think the project will be terrific for all; it's going to take a little time but it'll be really nice for the town and university.”
BACKSTORY The Town Council recently approved the massive project, led by Chapel Hill Foundation Real Estate Holdings, a nonprofit real estate corporation launched by UNC. It will include up to 160,000 square feet of office space, 75,000 square feet of retail and 300 rental apartments. Meanwhile, as University Square heads toward an overhaul, new life is sprouting up across the street. The mixed-use 140 West Franklin project is slated for a grand opening in April. Eye Care Center will move there from University Square, and the project also will feature Lime Fresh Mexican Grill, Gigi’s Cupcakes and other retailers to be named later, says Kendria Sweet, a spokeswoman for the 140 project. “We certainly could have filled all the retail space already, but we've been pretty picky,” she says. TW
A quick look at where University Square businesses are headed
- Chapel Hill Barber Shop – University Mall
- Cynthia's Tailor Shop – University Mall
- Eye Care Center – 140 West Franklin
- Franklin Street Yoga Center – The Courtyard
- Glee Kids – University Mall
- William Travis Jewelry – University Mall
- Ken's Quickie Mart