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Black on Franklin Street 

Chapel Hill celebrity watch

People pay a lot of money to hear comedian Lewis Black spew the word "fuck" with his unique gusto. But if you're strolling down Franklin Street at just the right moment sometime soon, you may get a free show.

Black, a Daily Show and HBO favorite famous for his jittery gesticulations and splenetic sputterings on President Bush, clueless Americans and corporate greed, has purchased a two-bedroom unit at Chapel Hill's Condominiums at McCorkle Place, 213 E. Franklin St., a 69-year-old brick building sandwiched between the University Presbyterian Church and the Kappa Delta sorority house.

"This is the first place I've ever bought," said Black, who lives in Hell's Kitchen in New York City. "I've been broke most of my life."

Now named for the quadrangle across the street, the three-story complex was formerly known as the Village Apartments, and until recently served as private student housing. Developer Joe Patterson is renovating the building, preserving its historic exterior but combining its 35 units into eight luxury condos. Workers gutting the building discovered historic interior features also, including the original Murphy beds--steel, space-saving foldaways popular in the early to mid-20th century.

Renovations are scheduled to be complete in November.

Black, a 1970 UNC-Chapel Hill graduate, told the Independent that he initially visited UNC as a prospective student on the way to look at Duke, and "I walked onto that part of campus and thought, 'I want to go to school there.'"

Nearly four decades later, Black now plans to live part-time in Chapel Hill, and will spend a stretch here next summer writing a new book about religion.

"I don't like driving. I can take the bus," he said. "I like it there; it's a comfort thing."

An avowed UNC basketball fan, Black had considered buying a house in Chapel Hill before settling on McCorkle Place. "It was an opportunity, and I thought, 'That's where I want to end up."

Black's condo is the smallest of the eight, at about 1,000 square feet, and was originally envisioned as a concierge unit. However, according to listing agent Kelley Hunter of Howard, Perry and Walston, the developer later decided the building didn't need a concierge. Black's agent told Black about the space, which had not yet gone on the market.

"I saw the floorplan and said, 'It's for me.'"

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