Fri 1 Sep 2006
The manager of the new Franklin St. luxury hotel that’s squatting on top of the old bus station, thinks Chapel Hill’s annual Festifall event will create a “a bad situation” because it’ll cut access off to what will be, this October 8th, an empty hotel. He also worries that the fire department will not be able to respond adequately, so he’s asked for the event to be moved away from the hotel.
The manager, Mr. Donaldson, cited two recent events – a break-in at Patio Loco (16 bottles of tequilla lifted) and a broken window at a local Chinese restaurant – for prompting his request for a copy of the festivals security plan.
“I have not gotten any answer back from anyone,” he said. “It happens a lot around here, it seems.”
Ouch! He goes on:
“We do have a $14 million building that does have lots of glass on the front of it,” Donaldson said.
Guess the town needs to call off the annual rock hurl and kaber toss.
Kidding aside, Donaldson obviously has conflated the problematic, recently cancelled, Apple Chill with Festifall. The character and size of the two events are quite different. During the event, I’ve never seen access to the rear of the hotel, where the parking lot is located, cut-off. Quite frequently, the fire department parks adjacent to the property.
Maybe he’s confused because he hasn’t attended either event? Is he very familiar with the Franklin St. locale in general?
From the same story, Mayor Foy said “he welcomes the hotel’s input on downtown events but stressed that the town’s concern is for serving the community as a whole.”
A good sentiment. Unfortunately, the pressure to sanitize or “Southpoint” Franklin St. will only increase as big development money flows in from out-of-town. Will RAM Development be “surprised” to find a Festifall on their new plaza?
Redevelopment downtown was meant to bring positive change without overwhelming the character and traditions of Franklin St. As we move forward on the Town’s joint private/public development project, we need to build in an expectation that Franklin St. , Rosemary St. and the environs surrounding will continue to be “real” places.