The Chapel Hill Town Council approved an economic incentive package that could result in $1.3 million being paid back to the developer of Carraway Village.
The project, formerly known as The Edge, has been a controversial proposal in recent years as it has been seen as having the potential to be a major economic hub in Chapel Hill. The project area rests across from Chapel Hill North near I-40 and Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard.
The economic incentives would come in stages, maxing out at $1.3 million, and would be predicated on benchmarks being reached for the amount of commercial space being built on the property.
Adam Golden is the vice president of development for Northwood Ravin, the developer who owns the property. Golden, who is also a Chapel Hill resident, addressed the Town Council on Monday night. While some council members had concerns about the possibility of incentives being paid when as little as 7,000 square feet of commercial space had been developed, Golden said Northwood Ravin had invested too much in the property for a small development to be feasible.
“If all we build is an apartment project, I won’t be here the next time we have a project,” Golden said. “We have a tremendous investment in this property. I think as you all know, we have a vision for this much like we did at Carolina Square. We are intending to make this a destination on the north side of town.”
Golden thanked the council for adjustments made in recent years regarding the original Special Use Permit, and he said work was underway in hopes of attracting tenants for the commercial space.
“We have two brokerage firms tag-teaming this to hit every aspect of the market,” Golden said. “The good news, and the thing that I’m very happy to report, is we have people that are interested. The things that you approved in this is getting attention.”
But Golden said the incentives needed to be approved so that work could begin on Phase I of the project and show the potential tenants progress is being made.
“They’re not ready to commit until they know that we’re real,” Golden said. “And to make it real, we’ve got to put a shovel in the ground and we’ve got to get started.”
Part of the Phase I development includes road improvements being made to Eubanks Road, including adding lanes. That portion of the project has an estimated cost of more than $4 million, which is where the proposed incentives would come into play.
Mayor Pro Tem Donna Bell said the town was getting “a gem of a deal” on the road improvement project.
“If for no other reason I am excited about this project is the fact that we are getting the road improvements,” Bell said, “which has allowed us to start thinking about other zoning in that area that will further improve. So it’s not just about this site.”
Mayor Pam Hemminger said she was concerned about the possibility of commercial space not being a high priority for Northwood Ravin. To receive the full incentive allotment, Northwood Ravin would have to develop 175,000 square feet of commercial space.
Council member Nancy Oates expressed concern over the affordable housing on the site.
Under the new proposal, Northwood Ravin has 10 years to get the permit approved and financing secured for the affordable housing rental unit. If the affordable housing unit has not reached that benchmark, one acre of the site designated for affordable housing would be sold to the town for $1.
Monday night’s vote passed 5-3 with Oates, Jess Anderson and Sally Greene voting against the incentive package. Councilman Ed Harrison was not present for the vote.