Developers break ground on UNC's new Carolina Square

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- A ground breaking ceremony was held in Chapel Hill Thursday morning for Chapel Hill's newest development project.

Once known as University Square, the area on Franklin Street will now be known as Carolina Square.

UNC-Chapel Hill purchased the property six years ago. Officials said it will have an urban feel and feature a mix of retail and student housing.

"It's extraordinarily unique," said President and CEO of Cousins Property Larry Gellerstedt. "We do these type developments all over the country. But this is an opportunity to partner with a university. The university owns the land, and we've entered a long-term lease with the university. We're brought in as their partner to make sure not only is this a great amenity for the city but a great amenity for the campus as well."

The project will include 200,000 square feet of office and retail space, 880 parking spaces, a park, and 246 apartments. The $120 million mixed-use development is a partnership between UNC-Chapel Hill, Northwood Ravin, and Cousins Properties.

"The students will benefit because there will be more concentrated retail in downtown." said Gordon Merklein, UNC's Executive Director of Real Estate Development. "Granville Towers, which already has 1300 student beds in it, will be right adjacent to the project. They'll be about a three-quarter acre open space that will be available to them. So, there will be everything from new dining and retail opportunities to living opportunities for students."

The idea if for Carolina Square to be a place that students, faculty, and the community can enjoy. The project is expected to be completed in 2017.

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