Supporting Leaders Who Listen

Grimball Jewelers Closes Down, Lease not Renewed

By on November 16, 2017 in Ephesus Fordham

Yet another longstanding local small business has fallen victim to the ill-considered Ephesus-Fordham redevelopment plan. We learned last week that Grimball Jewelers, despite its profitability, is leaving its Elliot Rd. location and going out of business because its landlord, Regency Centers, declined to renew its lease. Read this article from the Durham Herald-Sun about the closing of Grimball’s Jewelers.

Residents are losing the businesses that have served their everyday needs. Berkeley Grimball replaced many a watch battery. The form-based code was intended to stimulate new interest in building and investing here. That has certainly happened as out of town investors have moved in to take advantage of the relaxed standards and the quick permitting the new code affords. Since the zoning change, three parcels in the district have changed hands at least once. The first project, the Alexan, sold for 72 million almost before it was finished. But the relaxed standards and new investment have made it harder for our legacy businesses.

The new zoning, which reduces standards and increases the amount that can be built on a piece of land in the district, has spurred commercial gentrification and caused rents to rise dramatically.  The Regency Center landlord is seeking more rental income by trying to attract high end businesses.

The Durham Herald article contains a choice quote:  According to Regency Centers representative Jay Kanik, the Blue Hill District “is going to bring a lot more of this kind of entertainment lifestyle and activity. The PTA Thrift Shop, the Print Shop and the old dry cleaner that was there for generations, it’s all legacy stuff and there’s a time and place for that, but with this evolution there’s going to be a lot more energy.”

Chapel Hill doesn’t lack for energy, and it certainly doesn’t lack for pricey restaurants and upscale entertainment venues. What we need instead are places to buy food staples and obtain the array of services that satisfy ordinary everyday living.  Now we will drive a few more miles to find them!

The Town Council’s announced purpose to rezone the Ephesus Fordham district was to: (1) improve the local revenues, (2) bring renewed vitality to an aging shopping center, and (3) create a transit friendly area.  The new council can evaluate whether those goals have been met and recalibrate.



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  1. Sarah Madry says:

    What kind of “energy” is this Regency Centers’ spokesman talking about? He’s going to put in a bowling alley? Maybe an ice skating rink? Small shops with alluring storefronts and welcoming architecture are what pull customers in from the sidewalk. Grimball Jewelry had all that and offered those who could afford fine jewelry a place to buy it with expert consultation and for those who “keep hope alive” for being able to buy a gorgeous ring or necklace crafted by Berkeley Grimball, a moment of joy every time we drove or walked by. Does anyone have any data on the decline or increase of customers in these centers where legacy business have been taken away? Here’s an article by article by David Weible, National Trust for Historic Preservation
    “Seven Tips for Protecting Legacy Businesses”