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The University’s recently completed Campus Master Plan envisions campus as centered around three broad themes of Welcome, Connections and Hubs. Porthole Alley, the area where Carolina’s campus meets downtown Chapel Hill, has been identified as an opportunity to explore all three themes.

Through strategic renovation and renewal of Porthole Alley, including 128 E. Franklin St., 134 E. Franklin St., the Hill Commercial Building and the Porthole Building, the area would become a gateway to campus, strengthen the physical connection between downtown Chapel Hill and campus, and support downtown economic development.

The Porthole Alley redevelopment project will guided by the project team and steering committee, and will be driven by the project’s guiding principles:

  • Maintain a ground floor retail presence while adding additional office space for Undergraduate Admissions, the UNC Visitors Center and other University programs and activities.
  • Respect the scale of the block of 100 E. Franklin St. and enhance the existing alley as part of the pedestrian corridor connecting Franklin Street and Cameron Avenue.
  • Strengthen the connection between downtown Chapel Hill and the University.
  • Be a good neighbor by engaging with our current tenants, downtown property owners and merchants, interest groups and the Town of Chapel Hill in a collaborative process.

December 2019: Preplanning

  • Contract with architectural firm KieranTimberlake to complete a feasibility study.
  • Complete University space-needs assessment.

Early 2020: Community Engagement

  • Engage with the University and local communities and stakeholders to get feedback on scale, density, uses, preservation of existing buildings and the pedestrian experience in downtown Chapel Hill.
  • Public community listening sessions to gather feedback.
  • Listening sessions with campus Visioning Groups to identify key program drivers.
  • Engage with tenants, downtown merchants and property owners, and the Town of Chapel Hill.

Spring 2020: Concept Development

  • Develop design concepts based on University program requirements and feedback from the community.

Steering Committee

  • Steve Agostini, Associate Vice Chancellor for Finance and Budget
  • Tammy Bouchelle, Associate University Counsel
  • Joel Curran, Vice Chancellor for University Communications
  • Elizabeth Englehardt, Interim Senior Associate Dean for Fine Arts and Humanties
  • Steve Farmer, Vice Provost for Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions
  • Dave Hartzell, Professor, Kenan-Flagler Business School
  • Kristen Young, Director of Community Relations
  • Katie Ziglar, Director, Ackland Art Museum

Project Team

UNC-Chapel Hill

  • Gordon Merklein, Associate Vice Chancellor for Real Estate Operations
  • Bruce Warrington, Director, Real Estate Operations
  • Anna Wu, Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Services
  • Evan Yassky, Executive Director for Facilities Planning and Design, University Architect


Aerial View of Franklin Street Community Workshops Scheduled for Porthole Alley Redevelopment Project

January 15, 2020

Members of the University and local communities are invited to attend one of several upcoming workshops to provide feedback about the opportunity for renewal and redevelopment of Porthole Alley.

Categories: Campus Master Plan News, Porthole Alley News

2019 University Master Plan Cover Campus Master Plan Approved by University Board of Trustees

May 30, 2019

On May 30, the University Board of Trustees approved the 2019 Campus Master Plan. The new Master Plan will serve as the physical framework for The Blueprint for Next and will guide the growth and development of campus for the next 10 to 20 years.

Categories: Campus Master Plan News, Facilities Planning and Design News, Porthole Alley News


For more information about the Porthole Alley Redevelopment Project, please contact:

Stephanie Berrier
Communications Manager for Facilities Services and Real Estate

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