“The Edge” Proposed Development Stirs Residents’ Worries And Support

By Rachel Nash Posted March 17, 2014 at 10:18 pm

“Junior box” stores could be coming to north Chapel Hill as part of the proposed development, “The Edge,” to be located along Eubanks Rd.  Previous developers of the project attempted to attract “big box stores,” but that idea proved unsuccessful.

Now representatives from Northwood Ravin, the project’s current developer, said the area can’t support superstores but could attract smaller retailers such as Total Wine or Pet Smart.

During a public information meeting Monday night, several Northwood residents said that they are worried about the potential increased noise and traffic issues which could be created by the proposed mixed-use development.

Though it is still in the early stages of planning, The Edge would be a 55-acre site adjacent to I-40 and the Town’s Park and Ride lot, with residential, commercial, and office spaces. Developers are currently seeking a Special Use Permit for the project.

Northwood neighbor Carolyn Stuart was one of the few residents who attended the meeting.

“Those are my main concerns—the noise and the traffic on Eubanks—and the increased general activity,” Stuart said.

Town Staff explained that a sound-impact study won’t be conducted, as it is not required by the town.

Adam Golden is the vice-president of development for Northwood Ravin, the firm has that has been on the project for more than a year and are behind the apartments of Chapel Hill North and Chapel Watch Village. He said they are currently exploring plans for the project, which could include a hotel and a grocery store.

He presented several drawings and video presentation pieces guiding residents through what the proposed development would look like.

“We’ve tried to create really a transit-oriented, really a destination within north Chapel Hill where people can come and hopefully live, work and play [in],” Golden said.

The renderings of the project illustrated featured a main street running through the development, with a large green space in the middle.

Buildings would be limited to four stories along Eubanks Rd. Golden said the buildings could be as high as seven stories along I-40, buffered by a Resource Conservation District (RCD). An office park, to be located in the northwest section of the development, would be a second or third phase to the project.

Roadblocks

Finding financial support to for improvements to Eubanks Rd. is one of the biggest roadblocks the developer faces.

In February, Golden went before the Chapel Hill Town Council to ask for help in paying for the $3.5 million dollars needed to widen Eubanks Rd. to four-lane dived road.

Golden told the Council then that his firm could absorb some of the costs to make the road improvements, but not all of them. Town officials and representatives from NC DOT agreed that to support the proposed development, Eubanks Rd. would need to be widened with new turn lanes and bike lanes.

The plan also called for the addition of two traffic lights, bus stops, and pedestrian crossings.

This idea pleased some of the residents, who said at the present time attempting to cross Eubanks Rd. is already dangerous.

“I think that it could be helpful for people who use the bus system if there are better bus stops. It would also be useful to be able to walk to a grocery store. We do have nearby grocery stores, but they are not very accessible,” Stuart said.

The next step in the rezoning review process is for the project to go before the Town’s various boards and commissions for feedback. Those dates have not been set.

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