Bicycle Apartments To Bring Hundreds Of Students Closer To Downtown Chapel Hill

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.


Hard Hats

Bicycle Apartments Groundbreaking Ceremony


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.

140 West Grand Opening Is Almost Here, After A Decade Of Work

CHAPEL HILL – 140 West—the eight-story, $55 million development on Franklin Street – has been more than a decade in the making. And the town will gather Friday night to celebrate its grand opening.

“We knew that there was work to be done in Downtown is we were going to create a more diverse commercial atmosphere and that we needed folks to be living in Downtown,” said Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt.

The public is invited to join the festivities at 7 p.m—Mayor Kleinschmidt will be there along with other town leaders. The event will also feature a dedication of the public art installation, Exhale, created by landscape architect Mikyoung Kim.

RAM Real Estate Chairman Peter Cummings; the company signed-on as the developer in 2005.

“There are opportunities like 140 West that are in locations that have the potential to have a significant impact outside its boundaries,” Cummings says.

He says it’s been a long process but seeing the final product makes it worth it.

“I saw the lights on in the building and if you’re in this business and you don’t get excited when you see the lights on in the building at night—you should be in a different business,” Cummings said.

Both men say 140 West is a piece of the puzzle of how to connect West and East Franklin Street.

“We’re hoping that this will create a new sense of vibrancy particularly in that part of Downtown. We are expecting it will be of great benefit to our commercial tax base and continue to inspire others to invest as well,” Kleinschmidt said.

The land was originally a parking lot. Talks of the need for something like 140 West began in 2001

“What we’re hoping is that folks can really experience the fullness of what Downtown offers,” Kleinschmidt said. “When you park you car at one end of the street, there isn’t a space where you decide to turn around walk back. This provides that bridge.”

The mixed-use facility features 26,000 square feet of outdoor public space, including the area called The Plaza, at the corner of West Franklin and Church streets. The site also has 26,000 square feet of retail space.

Lime Fresh Mexican Grill is the first business to be up and running. Gigi’s Cupcakes and Eye Car Center are slated to open over the summer as well.

Above the retail space are 140 condos, including 18 affordable housing units. Below is an underground parking deck.

Cummings says about 105 of the total 140 residences have been sold. He says the selling prices range from the mid-$300s to more than $1 million.

“It’s an opportunity to inspire other investment in Downtown to help create that critical and diverse commercial environment,” Kleinschmidt said.
Free Public Parking Information:

The following lots will be available on a first-come, first-served basis:

• 140 West Parking Deck – Level P-1 – Free parking after 4 p.m.
• University Square West Lot Blues Spaces Only – Free after 6 p.m.
• West Rosemary Lot – 104 W. Rosemary St., Free after 6 p.m.
• Malette Street Municipal Lot 1.25 per hour — Free after 8 p.m.
• UNC Development Lot – 307 W. Rosemary St., available after 5 p.m.