UNC-Chapel Hill is planning a performing arts lab, studio and theater on Franklin Street.
Chancellor Carol Folt says the University has committed $4 million in non-state funding to build the $5 million facility.
Folt says "The Core@Carolina Square" will allow university departments and the public better access to works in progress. But she says it won't compete with the existing performance spaces on campus.
"We bring symphony orchestras and ballet companies. They don't come and practice in front of our town's children," Folt says.
"This is where you might have a fellowship, you might have a class that's going there, you might get a great choreographer. But they take weeks to develop a new piece. So they can be using that as part of their extended performance space. And almost like a scientist would build a laboratory, it's more like a laboratory space where we open the door and let people in to see it."
The Core@Carolina Square will be built on the former site of University Square in downtown Chapel Hill.
Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt says the City Council approved the redevelopment to revive an area that had been an underutilized strip mall.
He says the city has embraced the view "behind a steering wheel" for too long.
"It needs to be the vision on our feet. It needs to be a vision from a park. it needs to be a vision that includes space for entrepreneurship and a space for art."
Cousins Properties and Northwood Ravin will develop retail, office, residential and green space around the "The Core."