Downtown Chapel Hill plaza in new hands

tgrubb@newsobserver.comMay 20, 2014 

— Real estate developer Todd Zapolski said he’s not sure yet what the future holds for the downtown landmark CVS Plaza building.

A joint venture partnership between Zapolski and Manhattan-based Atco Properties and Management recently paid $26.2 million for the property at 137 E. Franklin St. It includes the 100,000-square-foot building and a three-story parking garage on East Rosemary Street.

The deal was inked with Franklin Street Plaza LLC, an entity owned and managed by Charlotte real estate investor and UNC alumnus Brent Milgrom Sr. that has owned the building for 37 years.

Zapolski said he remembers the building having an iconic presence on Franklin Street when he was a UNC student in the early 1980s. He also remembers fondly the “flower ladies” who sold their blooms at the building, he said.

The flower ladies have since retired. At the time of the sale, the building – built as NationsBank Plaza in 1971 – was 96 percent occupied. There is a CVS pharmacy store on the ground and basement floors, and UNC leases administrative and research offices above.

Zapolski said he has been talking with the town, UNC officials and downtown groups about how to make the plaza a better asset for the community. Existing business owners say students are not patronizing downtown as much now that there are other options on and off campus.

A vibrant downtown isn’t just about the university market, Zapolski said.

“I think we can recapture that and give students, but also people in Chapel Hill, more options,” he said.

The sale was made through Atco’s City Center Retail Estate joint venture program that has also invested in downtown office buildings and shopping centers in select secondary markets like Austin, Charlotte and Denver. It marks ATCO Properties & Management’s first Triangle real estate investment.

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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