Grimball Jewelers

Yet another longstanding local small business has fallen victim to the ill-considered Ephesus-Fordham redevelopment plan. We learned this week that Grimball Jewelers, despite its profitability, is leaving its Elliot Rd. location and going out of businesses because its landlord, Regency Centers, declined to renew its lease. Read this article from the Durham Herald-Sun about the closing of Grimball’s Jewelers.

Residents are losing the businesses that serve their everyday needs.  The form-based code was intended to stimulate new interest in building and investing here. That has certainly happened as out of town investors have moved in to take advantage of the relaxed standards and the quick permitting the new code affords. Since the zoning change, three parcels in the district have changed hands at least once. The first project the Alexan sold for 72 million.

The new zoning, which reduces standards and increases the amount that can be built on a piece of land in the district, has spurred commercial gentrification and caused rents to rise dramatically.  The Regency Center landlord is seeking more rental income by trying to attract high end businesses.

The Durham Herald article contains a choice quote:  According to Regency Centers representative Jay Kanik, the Blue Hill District “is going to bring a lot more of this kind of entertainment lifestyle and activity. The PTA Thrift Shop, the Print Shop and the old dry cleaner that was there for generations, it’s all legacy stuff and there’s a time and place for that, but with this evolution there’s going to be a lot more energy.”

Chapel Hill doesn’t lack for energy, and it certainly doesn’t lack for pricey restaurants and upscale entertainment venues. What we need instead are places to buy food staples and obtain the array of services that satisfy ordinary everyday living!  Now we will drive a few more miles to find them!

The Town Council’s announced purpose to rezone the Ephesus Fordham district was to: (1) improve the local revenues, (2) bring renewed vitality to an aging shopping center, and (3) create a transit friendly area.  The new council can evaluate whether those goals have been met and recalibrate.

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