A planned community may be coming to Chapel Hill, but not before its prospective developer revises a concept plan to which town officials recently objected.
That plan was presented to the Chapel Hill Town Council last week by Scott Murray on behalf of Caliber Partners LLC, a commercial real estate firm based in Charlotte.
A grocery store was originally intended to anchor the proposed neighborhood, but Murray explained that external pressures forced planners to reconsider that idea.
“The grocery that we had hoped to locate on the site has since proven to be nonexistent, frankly, and with the events last week, I guess, from Amazon and Whole Foods, it’s probably becoming even more distant,” he admitted.
“We revamped our plan based partly on that, but also based on some of the suggestions and comments we received [from the Community Design Commission].”
Caliber Partners now seeks to build 206 residential units and three commercial structures at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and North Estes Drive.
Murray noted that a significant amount of green space is included in the latest iteration of the plan, which includes two gathering places and over 327,000 square feet of developed space.
“The plan has two signature office users on MLK; there’s a fairly large green space that would front MLK; there’s a large multiuse trail proposed along the northern boundary,” he relayed.
Council Member Nancy Oates advised Murray that Caliber Partners should consider the affordable housing policies that govern local residential development.
“I think a lot of us on council take affordable housing seriously, and so when we have developers come before us and promise us affordable housing and then come back and say the numbers wouldn’t work, that doesn’t fly well,” she warned.
“I wouldn’t want you to go through all of this work and expense to develop something without really letting us know how the affordability is going to work.”
Amid concerns over traffic flows and airport hazards, Council Member Michael Parker summarized the lack of enthusiasm for the project that his colleagues expressed.
“I recognize the challenges, but with 20,000 square feet or less of — I think you’re now down to 12,000 square feet of retail [with] no anchor, and I’m sure you’d love to have one and, obviously, somebody told you, “no,” but I think this now does kind of fail as a destination,” he opined.
Caliber Partners is expected to revise its plan based on recommendations from council members and continue its bid for development in Chapel Hill.
Image by Scott Murray Land Planning.