CHAPEL HILL – The Bicycle Apartments—a $20-million student-housing project less than a mile from Downtown Chapel Hill—broke ground Wednesday morning. Town leaders say it will re-invigorate the Downtown economy in more ways than one.
Meg McGurk is the executive director for the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership.
“Students are such a vital part of our local economy. Having them in a well-maintained, well-managed living community right Downtown is really tremendous. It’s going to be a great impact for all of us,” McGurk said.
Trinitas Ventures LLC, a national developer of student housing communities, is backing the project. The plan is to knock-down the existing three, 2-story apartment buildings at the Central Park Apartments location at 602 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
194 apartments — or 608 units— will be built in its place. The complex was designed in compliance with the LEED accreditation system.
“This is what we call student housing by design. This is a unique property for Chapel Hill. There isn’t a complex like this yet so this is groundbreaking. This is something that is needed in our community.” McGurk said.
The property management staff will live on-site in the complex.
“We thought this would be a perfect opportunity to bring a product where we can re-develop a space and build a by-design complex that is close to the students, close to the center of campus, and close to the center of town,” said Travis Vencel, the vice president of development for Trinitas Ventures.
Aaron Nelson, the president and CEO of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, says he’s excited to bring more students closer to Downtown.
“600 students will be with-in walking distance to the center of Downtown,” Nelson said. “The businesses there are very excited about it because there will be more shoppers, more eyes on the street, and more people coming to and from campus. We’re bringing students in from other communities where they are living right now.”
Nelson says it’s a good time for Downtown Chapel Hill. 140 West, the eight-story $55 million development on Franklin Street, opened last month. The building contains 140 residences and 26,000 sq. ft. of retail.
“Downtown is in a renaissance right now,” Nelson said. “We’re getting additional housing, additional retail, and more restaurants—so it is really an exciting time for Downtown.”
The Bicycle Apartments are slated to open in 2014, just before the beginning of the school year.