Published: Oct 18, 2012 03:35 PM
Modified: Oct 18, 2012 03:36 PM
CHAPEL HILL - The Town Council was receptive to two projects last week but concerned about potentially losing affordable housing.
Southern Village developer D.R. Bryan wants to replace three single-family rental homes with a 115- to 125-room hotel and 68-unit apartment building along U.S. 15-501 south of downtown. The lots are under contract, he said.
North of downtown, developer Ron Strom wants to renovate the Timber Hollow apartments, build 95 more units, and relocate an existing clubhouse, adding new amenities.
Council member Matt Czajkowski praised Bryan for presenting an alternative acceptable to Southern Village neighbors. Bryan had dropped a 2008 hotel proposal because of community opposition.
That should be an example to other developers, Czajkowski said. But he and other council members also encouraged both developers to consider ways to provide affordable housing.
“I know there are a couple of families in those houses (at Southern Village), and studio apartments and one-bedroom apartments don’t necessarily fit those kinds of families,” Council member Penny Rich said.
Council member Jim Ward suggested that Bryan contribute to the town’s affordable housing fund, while Czajkowski advised him to consider a new affordable housing model instead. One alternative might be to let Community Home Trust manage 15 percent of the apartments, Czajkowski said.
Other concerns about the $20 million project included pedestrian connections across the highway to a future Obey Creek development, whether buildings should have four or five stories, and if right-in and right-out traffic lanes are the only solution.
The plan shows the hotel and apartments set back roughly 80 feet from U.S. 15-501, with planting screening the view. Parking would be on two levels below each building, and a second entrance on Barksdale Drive would only serve pedestrians and bicyclists.
Ward praised the project’s focus on alternative transit but suggested the developer provide financial support to Chapel Hill Transit. Three bus stops and a park-and-ride lot are located a short walk from the site.
“While we welcome the residents, the visitors who might be staying here, Chapel Hill Transit needs funding (to operate), so I would ask the developer to have a conversation with town staff to see what type of meaningful contribution … makes sense to both parties,” he said.
Ward offered that same advice to Timber Hollow developer Strom, who touted the 19.55-acre redevelopment’s transit connections.
There are two options for Timber Hollow: either put the new apartments in one building, or have a 70-unit building and 16 townhouses along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Council members voiced support for the second option, noting the area is growing more urban and the complex faces the future Carolina North development.
The apartments, located at the corner of Piney Mountain Road and MLK Boulevard, are home to about 80 percent graduate students, some working professionals and a few families, Strom said. The rents likely will rise about 3 percent next summer – from $722 for a one-bedroom unit to roughly $745 – but they are working with Community Home Trust to find affordable-housing solutions, he said.
Forest Creek resident Fred Jenkins said the developer and neighbors have been meeting for several months. While the plan “is probably going to be acceptable,” some neighbors still have concerns, he said. Most oppose connecting the dead-end segment of Mendel Drive in Timber Hollow with the dead-end street in Forest Creek, he said.