Chapel Hill’s Obey Creek project returns to council Monday

tgrubb@newsobserver.comJanuary 10, 2014 

— The Town Council will consider Monday whether to start negotiating with developers of the Obey Creek project on U.S. 15-501 South.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Southern Human Services Center, 2501 Homestead Road. A council vote to start negotiations would not guarantee an agreement. The council’s final decision might not come before January 2015.

The 1.6 million-square-foot project as proposed could bring a hotel, offices, retail and several hundred apartments to roughly 40 acres across the highway from Southern Village. By comparison, University Mall has roughly 366,000 square feet on a similarly sized lot.

Steep slopes and wetlands surrounding Wilson Creek limit the project. Roughly 80 acres could be set aside for community trails, recreation and green space, with a wide pedestrian and bike bridge for safe passage across the highway.

In December, an Obey Creek Compass Committee of residents, business owners and others wrapped up roughly six months of debate about the project and its potential effects on the community. The committee recommends getting better traffic, economic and other data before starting negotiations.

Some members also want developers Roger and Ben Perry, with East-West Partners, to revise their plans first.

Town staff and a separate team of development experts have said the issues could be resolved during negotiations.

The state allows local development agreements for projects on more than 25 acres and built over at least 20 years. The agreement creates predictability in how projects are built, how they look and whether street improvements or other community amenities are required.

If the agreement fails, the developers still could seek a traditional special-use permit and rezoning.

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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