Big big news from the Town Council email inbox—next summer, Purple Bowl will be moving out of its spot at 306 West Franklin, where it’s been since it opened in 2017, and moving down the street. This clears the way for the redevelopment of the 306 West Franklin Site for Longfellow Real Estate Partners’ proposed 160-foot tall wet lab (with ground floor retail) on the site.

This brings to a close a saga that started about a year ago, when Longfellow announced its initial plans for the wet lab on the site of the popular açaí bowl place, along with some other local Chapel Hill businesses like Chimney Restaurant. Purple Bowl fans are passionate and flooded Council’s email box with pleas to save Purple Bowl. We’ve been covering this story for months and we’ve long thought there was a win-win solution out there. While we’re not privy to the details of the arrangement, we’re thrilled that downtown Chapel Hill will get hundreds of new jobs, and we’ll still be able to get our favorite smoothies, energy balls, avocado toast, and bowls. Thanks go to everyone who made this happen.

The email from Purple Bowl owner Taylor Gillard, whose mother Paula runs the store, is reprinted below:

To Chapel Hill Leadership,

We are writing to let you know that we’ve come to an agreement with Longfellow to move out of 306 West Franklin Street in Summer 2024. We will be moving to a new location further down West Franklin.

We are going to do everything we can to create a new community space that is even better than our existing space. We want more than anything for Franklin Street and downtown to live up to its potential. We will no longer push back against the Longfellow project and instead will focus on creating a new community space further down West Franklin Street.

We encourage town leadership to do more to support local small businesses that will help Chapel Hill retain its local flavor instead of encouraging development that causes hardship for the local small businesses we do have. We also encourage you to continue to evaluate the architectural direction of downtown Chapel Hill. We think a charming, authentic downtown is a big part of what makes Chapel Hill such a desirable place to live – we should do more to protect this.

With Love,
Taylor Gilland, Paula Gilland, and The Purple Bowl

It is possible to preserve and champion small businesses like Purple Bowl – AND create opportunities for hundreds of jobs within walking distance of UNC. (Foot traffic also helps small businesses on Franklin Street.)

Having people live and work downtown has long been a request from small business owners along Franklin Street. Many of the buildings downtown are reaching the ends of their lifespans – their roofs are aging, their foundations need to be overhauled. This will happen again and again.

We love Franklin Street. But it needs year-round foot traffic for small businesses to thrive.

In the last municipal election cycle, we helped increase turnout by over 20 percent. We're all volunteers who care deeply about Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and we're working to make Chapel Hill and Carrboro more vibrant, accessible, fun, and sustainable.  Please consider a small donation to help us keep our digital lights on, host events, and hire students to do data deep-dives.

Geoff Green, AICP lives in Chapel Hill. In his day job he's a practicing urban planner; in his spare time he rides his electric bike around town and advocates for improved facilities so that everyone can...