What is the future of development in Chapel Hill? The Chapel Hill Town Council will be making a pair of big decisions on Monday.
That’s when the Council votes on whether to approve a development agreement for the Glen Lennox neighborhood – and whether to proceed to the negotiation phase on another development in the works, Obey Creek.
Located just across 15/501 from Southern Village, the 120-acre Obey Creek site represents the next big phase of the ongoing discussion around development and redevelopment in Chapel Hill. (Since the town’s new comprehensive plan was approved in 2012, Chapel Hill has begun moving forward on several “future focus” areas, including Central West, Rosemary Street, and Ephesus/Fordham as well as Glen Lennox.)
Developer Roger Perry of East-West Partners has proposed a 1.5 million square foot development for the site, with 600-700 residential units, 327,000 square feet of retail (including a large anchor store, perhaps a ‘big box’), and a hotel. The proposed development would cover 35 of the 120 acres, with the rest conserved for public use, wilderness preservation, and a possible future school.
Reaction to Perry’s proposal has been mixed, at least so far. (No surprise: the discussion process is still in the early stages.) Residents and town officials generally agree that some development ought to take place at the Obey Creek site, if only to generate more retail spending: fewer dollars are spent on retail in Orange County than in any of the surrounding counties, and that in turn forces Chapel Hill’s tax burden disproportionately onto property owners. (The Town Council, indeed, just approved a one-cent property tax increase.)
But some have objected to certain features of Perry’s proposal. Its large scale is one concern: some have proposed a smaller development, closer to 750,000 square feet than 1.5 million. (Perry has argued, in response, that a certain level of density is necessary to make the project financially viable.) Others have expressed concerns about the environmental effects, pedestrian and bike accessibility, and the impact on traffic on 15/501 (which is already busy in that area). And still others have emphasized the need to make sure that Obey Creek has a “sense of place”: aesthetically pleasing, with a real connection to Southern Village and a feeling of being Chapel Hill’s southern ‘gateway.’ (Some residents involved in the discussion have held up the East 54 development – also Perry’s – as a cautionary example in this vein: the East 54 development isn’t as inviting as it could be, they say, because drivers along Route 54 can only see the backs of the buildings.)
Last year, the Town of Chapel Hill appointed 17 residents to a committee, to study the proposal, solicit public feedback, and provide recommendations on moving forward. On December 16 of last year, the Obey Creek Compass Committee submitted its final 43-page report.
Committee members say they have some concerns about the proposal that’s currently on the table, but they’re confident the disagreements can be worked out before final approval from the Town Council.
And all of these discussions are taking place in the wake of Chatham County’s recent approval of Chatham Park – a massive development that’s set to add about 60,000 residents to Pittsboro over the next three decades. (Pittsboro’s current population is about 3,000.) How that will affect development in Chapel Hill – or the entire Triangle, for that matter – remains to be seen.
Two weeks ago, WCHL’s Jim Heavner spoke at length with Roger Perry about the Obey Creek project and the state of development in Chapel Hill.
And last week, Aaron Keck welcomed several key town officials and Compass Committee members into the studio to talk about Obey Creek – as well as Glen Lennox, Chatham Park, and development in general in Chapel Hill.
Listen to Part 1 of Aaron’s conversation with Jeanne Brown and Susan Lindsay of the Obey Creek Compass Committee:
And Part 2:
Listen to Aaron’s conversation with Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt:
Listen to Part 1 of Aaron’s conversation with Kristen Smith of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce:
And Part 2:
Finally, listen to Aaron’s conversation with Chapel Hill Economic Development Officer Dwight Bassett:
The Town Council meets on Monday night at 5:30 in the Southern Human Services Center.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/town-leaders-talk-obey-creek-glen-lennox-chatham-park/
CHAPEL HILL - It took less than 24 hours to track down a man suspected of breaking and entering at multiple businesses in Southern Village.
Chapel Hill Police arrested 33-year-old Caleb Hopkirk-Ridlen Hill on 13 felony charges including breaking and entering, larceny, and injury to real property. The break-ins occurred early Thursday morning in the Market Street area of Southern Village.
“We received some surveillance footage of this case. [...] Yesterday evening he was located I believe again on Market Street,” says Lieutenant Kevin Gunter of the Chapel Hill Police Department.
Hill was held in the Orange County Jail on a $25,000 secured bond.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/so-village-commercial-robber-captured/
CHAPEL HILL – The Chapel Hill Town Council unanimously approved development plans Monday for a five-story hotel to be built on the edge of Southern Village.
“All those in favor, say, ‘Aye.’ We have a new hotel,’ said Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt.
The hotel will be five stories, with 112 rooms and 90 parking spaces, and will be built along US 15-501 South across from Strata Solar.
The development plan also calls for a future phase to include an apartment building.
Mayor Pro Tem Ed Harrison excitedly complimented the developer, D.R. Bryan, for seeing the project through and making the necessary changes during the process.
“I think it is a triumph that you came out to this location instead of the other one. I learned a lot about Southern Village, and its residents, and also a lot about Southern Village and its design from you folks,” Harrison said. “This shows that where there is a will there is a way and that something can happen when it needs to.”
When Bryan first suggested building a hotel in the heart of Southern Village back in late 2008, residents of the neighborhood fought against the project and the proposal subsequently was tabled.
This year, the concept of a hotel in the mixed-use village resurfaced, though the new design plan moved the development to the edge of Southern Village instead of at its center.
At a public hearing in September, neighbors in the area had formed a more favorable opinion of the proposed plan for the hotel, and many business owners and residents praised the plan Many said they believed it would bring much needed business to the merchants on Market Street.
Some still worried about how the hotel would affect issues like access to 15-501, pedestrian access to Barksdale Drive, and landscaping concerns.
Sarah O’Brien, representing the developer, spoke to the Council Monday and said that the new plan included revisions such as re-working the right-in/right-out access to 15-501 South.
“This achieves many community-wide goals that were identified in the 1992 Southern [Village] small area plan and most recently, in the Chapel Hill 20/20 plan, including the design principles for Highway 15-501 south,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien added that other benefits of the hotel in Southern will include adding to Chapel Hill’s commercial tax base and improving road connectivity in Southern Village.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/ch-town-council-oks-southern-village-hotel-plan/
CHAPEL HILL- Residents living near Obey Creek got a look at a new development plan on Wednesday, but many still think it’s too much.
When developer Roger Perry presented a revised site plan to the Obey Creek Compass Committee, he told them that review by the town’s technical team had done much to improve it:
“It is a much better plan than the one you saw on Monday night,” said Perry. “We’re especially excited about figuring out a solution as to how to not turn our back on 15-501, but to integrate this project into the fabric of Southern Village and into town, instead of being an isolated place on its own.”
The revised plan is based on one presented to the committee earlier this week. It features a mixed-use complex with building heights ranging from three to six stories, with underground parking.
Revised Obey Creek Development Proposal
A team of consultants lead by Victor Dover reviewed the plan and made recommendations to the developer. The changes include breaking streets and buildings into smaller blocks, buffering 15-501 South with trees, and adding slow-speed circulator roads around the perimeter of the development.
“I think that’s one of the major breakthroughs in the last two days,” said Perry. “Now what we’ve designed is a streetscape along the creek that is really very much of a human scale. Three story townhomes where you could really create quite a pedestrian experience.”
But some committee members, as well as many of the three dozen audience members, said the plan did not address one of their fundamental concerns, that of scale. Robert Strauss questioned why the plan calls for a development footprint the same size as Durham’s Southpoint mall.
“I don’t feel like I have a good understanding, I don’t feel like there’s been a thoughtful approach to why it is the size it is,” said Strauss.
In fact, the revised plan is slightly larger that those the committee critiqued on Monday, though Perry said he’d be willing to scale it back to approximately 1.5 million square feet.
Dover warned the committee not to aim too low, saying the project must reach a critical mass of residential and retail density to succeed.
“You usually think about density like it’s a toxic substance, and that the thing to do is to reduce the dosage so you don’t overdose on it,” said Dover. “I don’t think that’s the situation that you have right here. You actually want to achieve a livable density, which means one that supports transit, one that puts enough souls close together to support neighborhood retail, to support neighborhood congregation. Those are public benefits and you don’t get to those by just taking density out.
“You want us to be successful. The last thing you want is a failure here,” said Perry. “So you want us to be successful, we feel like this is a scale that is in the best interests for us being successful and the town.”
The Obey Creek Compass Committee is in the first phase of the negotiation process for a development agreement. The committee’s report, due to go to the town council in November, will help the council decide whether to enter into the second phase of the process, in which town leaders would negotiate directly with the developer to hash out a long-term building plan for the 124 acres site along 15-501 across from Southern Village.
The newly revised Obey Creek map will be presented for public comment at a forum on October 16, from 7- 9 p.m. at Extraordinary Ventures on Elliot Road.http://chapelboro.com/news/development/so-village-residents-skeptical-of-new-obey-creek-plan/
CHAPEL HILL- When developer D.R. Bryan first suggested building a hotel in the heart of Southern Village back in late 2008, residents of the neighborhood responded with such vehement dismay that the proposal was tabled.
Fast forward five years and the concept of a hotel in the mixed-use village has resurfaced, though this time it would be at the edge of the development instead of at its center.
Barbara Crane lives and works in Southern Village. She told the Chapel Hill Town Council on Monday that though she fought the prior plan, she’s changed her mind.
“Since the difficult times in 2009 when I and others questioned whether there was a market for an additional hotel, the market has improved greatly,” said Crane.
The new proposal is slightly smaller, and in a different location. Bryan wants to build a five-story, 112 room hotel on four acres along 15-501 across from Solar Strata.
At Monday’s public hearing, residents and business owners were lining up to praise the plan, which many said would bring much needed business to the merchants on Market Street.
“As an independent business we face a lot of challenges, and now we have big box stores like Wal-Mart encroaching on our territory,” said Micki Cashman, the store manager at Weaver Street Market’s Southern Village location. “We are looking for an additional anchor on the commercial center to really help strengthen all of our retail businesses.”
Gary Kahn, a Southern Village resident and town council candidate, was the only speaker to criticize the plan, warning it could generate unwanted traffic in the area.
“I encourage the mayor and the town council to act very slowly on granting the permit for the Southern Village hotel, or make it part of the Obey Creek process and let the community say whether we really need a hotel,” said Kahn.
The council was largely supportive of the hotel concept, although some questioned the idea that hotel guests would drive into the center of the Southern Village commercial district instead of driving.
“Real walk-ability is about passing places that are interesting and seeing windows and seeing activity and having the option of popping in and stuff,” said Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt. “You make a five minute walk feel like a 20 minute walk when you don’t have those things and so people won’t even take the five minute walk.”
The project will return to the council for a vote on October 28.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/new-hotel-plan-draws-praise-from-those-once-opposed/
CHAPEL HILL – Members of the public will have a chance to weigh in on a plan to build a hotel at Southern Village when the Chapel Hill Town Council meets Monday.
The proposed five-story, 112 room hotel would be on four acres on the edge of the mixed-use development, along 15-501 across from Strata Solar. A future phase could include a new apartment building.
An earlier plan to build a hotel in the middle of Market Street on the site of a current parking lot was put on pause in 2009 after Southern Village residents objected to the idea.
The public will also have a chance to respond to a plan to reduce the minimum lot acreage for new apartment complexes from five acres to two.
The public hearing starts at 7:00 p.m. in the Southern Human Services Center on Homestead Road.
CHAPEL HILL/CARRBORO – A majority of UNC faculty and staff say the university is a “highly effective organization” with a strong vision for the future. That’s according to the results of a University-wide organizational effectiveness survey conducted in January.
UNC officials say they received more than 3,000 responses, an uptick from the last time they conducted the survey three years ago.
Among the results: 66 percent of respondents say UNC is a “highly effective organization,” and 79 percent say they’d recommend Carolina as a place to work.
The numbers aren’t all rosy, though: 54 percent also say UNC needs to make “significant changes” in order to remain successful five years from now.
Head to the Carrboro Farmers’ Market this Saturday for their annual Strawberry Jamboree. Beginning at 8:00 a.m., you can sample fresh strawberries, plus shortcake and homemade whipped cream; you can also find lots of strawberry recipes—and Benjamin Vineyards will be on hand to offer strawberry wine.
The Carrboro Farmers’ Market is located at the Carrboro Town Commons, on W. Main Street adjacent to Town Hall.
And beginning this Thursday, May 23, Southern Village is kicking off “Swinging Big Band Thursdays,” a concert series that will host big bands on five different Thursdays throughout the spring and summer.
The concert runs from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on the Village Green; the 17-piece Heart of Carolina Jazz Orchestra will be performing. It’s open to the public and entirely free, but donations for the orchestra will be accepted.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/news-around-town-strawberries-jazz-facultystaff-satisfaction/
“A gentleman who was, if I’m not mistaken, trimming some bushes when the fox approached him and apparently scaled the ladder a little bit and bit him,” Marotto says.
He says that occurred sometime Tuesday afternoon.
Chapel Hill Police Sgt. Josh Mecimore says the second report was that of a fox bite Tuesday night in the area of Southern Village.
“Around (8:00 p.m.), a woman who lives in Southern Village went to UNC Hospitals,” Sgt. Mecimore says. “I don’t have any information on the victim in this situation’s condition, just that she went to UNC Hospitals for treatment referencing of a fox bite.”
Officials searched the area Tuesday night but came up empty. Marotto says they returned to the area Wednesday morning to resume the search. A fox was captured just before noon Wednesday and impounded after it was killed. Results from tests are expected later this week.
In response to the report of the fox, the Chapel Hill Police issued a few safety tips for any time a situation like this occurs. Sgt. Mecimore says this incident is a good reminder that this could occur at any time and the number one thing to remember is to keep yourself and others away from any suspicious animals.
“We would just ask that anyone who sees it calls 911 and don’t try to go near it,” Sgt. Mecimore says. “Do whatever you can to stay as far away from it as you can so that you don’t risk being bitten yourself.”
By North Carolina law, dogs, cats, and ferrets older than four months must be vaccinated at all times and must wear their rabies vaccination tag.
While there could be other affected animals in the area, or, while Animal Services is relatively sure that it is, the fox that was collected may not be the same one that attacked. Anyone who sees a suspicious animal is asked to call 911 or Orange County Animal Services.
Orange County Animal Services
(919) 942-PETS (7387)
Tips From the Chapel Hill Police Department
Um, look, since we’re pals and everything, you’ll understand why I’m going to feel a little ill if I don’t see your pretty face at TerraVITA this Saturday. I mean, you say you love the food scene here in North Carolina and you love to talk to friends about seasonal eating. You’d love to get out more and explore the other fabulous restaurants around this great state but you just haven’t found time – it’s been a crazy summer. I get it. Things have been nuts.
You know what is even more nuts? Missing TerraVITA. It can be tough to convince your favorite friend or lover to join you for a few hours sampling delicious food, booze, and bevvies on a gorgeous fall afternoon. So, let me do the dirty work for you. Please note the following reasons you need to be at TerraVITA in Southern Village this Saturday.
Soooo, yeeeeah. Like I said. You have a 15% off discount code to use, enter Grow2 at checkout. JACKPOT.http://chapelboro.com/columns/orange-zest/terravita-a-coupon-a-few-good-reasons-to-attend/