As previously discussed, the developers of 315 E. Chapel Hill St. had initially submitted a proposal which would have allowed them to take ownership of a chunk of the alley for use as an outdoor patio. Seven Stars (among others) raised concerns that this would would make the alley somewhat claustrophobic, and in so doing impede public use of the space (which has seen increasing use due to the popularity of neighboring businesses).
Those concerns caused the planning department to slam on the brakes, and they held a public meeting to solicit input from the public. The input was provided to the developers, who stated they would take it into account as they moved forward.
The Hotel has now revised (or at least clarified) its plans and intends to submit them to the council on the 18th:
The results are now in an agreement between the developers and the city that will probably come up for City Council approval Dec. 18. Most involve keeping the alley much as it is already, by preserving the trees already there, keeping the cobblestone pavement, keeping cars out and preserving public space there.
Gentian’s plan incorporates a public “pedestrian use area,” leaves the trees and most of the cobblestones, though it adds a five-foot wide public walkway paved with material easier on the feet than cobblestones. Any stones removed would be used as “design elements” in new construction. The company would also be responsible for maintaining the existing plantings, and may add lighting to the alley that designer Rob Emerson said is now “pitch dark” at night.
On first blush that sounds pretty swell! Caveat: I’ve not seen the actual plan, so I’m taking TheDurhamNews on its word here; I also don’t know whether these plans would be legally binding (in many cases, site plans can be changed at the discretion of the developer). Still, it’s always nice to see a developer listening to public feedback and working to come up with a compromise.