More apartments and townhouses for working families may appear on the busy NC 54 between Downing Creek and Medemont communities in eastern Chapel Hill.
Developer Northwood Ravin paid $ 10.3 million last year for 36 acres from Stancell Drive, land records show. In January, the developer presented a conceptual plan of 375 garden-style apartments and 75 townhouses in several three- to four-story homes.
Approximately 1.5 acres near Barbee Chapel Road could be reserved for affordable housing. Details will be worked out after applying for conditional zoning.
Northwood Ravin has built multi-purpose projects around Chapel Hill, including Carraway Village on Eubanks Road and Carolina Square on West Franklin Street, as well as residential communities in Chapel Hill North, Chapel Watch Village and Cosgrove Hill.
The last site is located within the city of Chapel Hill, but also in Durham County. It could become a village for “insufficient audiences of moderate income / workforce and start-up family,” the plan noted, and could be served by two driveways from Stensel Drive and a third at the intersection of Barbie Chapel Road and Finley Forest Drive.
The southwest corner of the site, which includes streams and wetlands, could provide recreation space and trails, with additional yards elsewhere on the site. The flow at the northern end of the site can be resumed, the plan said.
Other key issues include driving and stormwater management, as the site is in a low drainage area for Morgan Creek, Little Creek and Lake Jordan, and more than 40,000 vehicles pass through NC 54 every day. There are bus stops and Chapel bus stops -Hill. a parking lot and attractions within walking distance, but the surrounding area can be a challenge for pedestrians.
Chapel Hill City Council could consider the concept plan at its March 23 meeting. The conceptual plan is an approximate project that allows the developer to get feedback from the city council and city advisory councils, which can then be used to develop an official application.
Woodmont has failed, but the deal remains
Hillmont is not the first plan proposed for this site. In 2008, the previous owner of Capital Associates received board approval for Woodmont, a building with 60 apartments and 484,000 square feet of office space.
The permit expired without construction, but partly because of the 2009 recession, and also because the council set conditions that made the project too expensive, said Dwight Bassett, the city’s economic development officer.
The council may negotiate with Northwood Ravin on new terms if a formal application is made, but a separate agreement that Capital Associates signed with a neighbor in 2008 will still apply.
This agreement gives UBS Realty Investors – and any future owner of a neighboring Morgan at Chapel Hill Apartments – 30 days to reject changes at the south end of the Northwood Ravin site. It also regulates the rules of landscaping and utilities that must be performed by residents of the residential complex and any new housing.
Efforts by Northwood Ravin to reach out to Morgan property owners at Chapel Hill have been unsuccessful, Bassett said. He postponed other issues to Adam Golden, vice president of Northwood Ravin development.
Golden did not respond to an e-mail from The News & Observer asking for more information.
Housing is needed more than commercial
Last year, Bassett told the City Council’s Economic Sustainability Committee that since 2008, the site has aroused interest from several developers, including one who wanted to build a Costco store and another who weighed multi-purpose development.
Orange County was also exploring the possibility of building a light rail station surrounded by dense businesses and houses, but that plan fell through when in 2019 the Durham-Orange light rail project was curtailed.
Northwood Ravin also considered a combination of housing, shops and offices, but it became clear that location, limited access and visibility were too complex, said David Laub of the Noell Consulting Group last year’s board committee.
A study commissioned by Capital Associates found that the city may be interested in a particular vendor who wants to build in the area, but it’s a “not very strong plot” to build in hopes that someone will want to open a store there, Laub said.
On the other hand, housing would meet the identified needs of the city, officials Laub and Northwood Ravin said, citing a 2021 study that identified the need for 485 new units each year for the next 20 years to keep up with demand for housing in the city. The study found that only 10% of these facilities should be built for student tenants.
About 35 percent of residents living around Hillmont are between the ages of 18 and 34 – the second-largest percentage of millennials and students outside downtown Chapel Hill – and less than half of existing housing is occupied by tenants, Laub said.
A study by his group “shouts at us that this is the perfect place for housing, perhaps for a mix of apartment rentals as well as goods for sale, which in today’s age mostly means townhouses with the level of density this site requires,” he said. .
Northwood Ravin is planning apartments, townhouses near Friday Center
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