Chapel Hill to take up old buildings, new development and Russian ties

tgrubb@newsobserver.comFebruary 7, 2014 

— The Town Council will talk Monday about what to do with two surplus town properties, Ephesus-Fordham street and stormwater improvements, and cutting ties with Russia.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Southern Human Services Center, 2501 Homestead Road.

The council has been looking at whether to sell or re-use several town properties, including the former Chapel Hill library and museum building on East Franklin Street and the former Town Hall (IFC shelter) on West Rosemary Street.

Staff is recommending the town work with Preservation North Carolina to sell the old library bulding. The state nonprofit has an agreement that protects the library building from demolition.

Staff also is asking for permission to move ahead with plans to sell the former Town Hall building, which will be vacant once the Inter-Faith Council for Social Services builds its new shelter near Homestead Road.

The council also will get an update on stormwater and street improvements planned for the Ephesus-Fordham corridor, which includes Village Plaza, Shops at Eastgate and Rams Plaza. The proposed changes are part of a larger discussion about future development and redevelopment projects.

The proposed $10 million in street and stormwater improvements could be funded with bonds and with installment financing using Town Hall as collateral. The town expects to pay back the debt with increasing property tax revenues from redeveloped properties in the Ephesus-Fordham area.

Just say nyet

The Town Council also will take up the issue again of cutting ties with Chapel Hill’s sister city of Saratov, Russia. Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and Council member Lee Storrow, who are gay, proposed the move last fall in response to growing Russian violence and anti-gay discrimination.

Chapel Hill’s relationship with its sister city, located about 450 miles southeast of Moscow, has stagnated since formed in 1992, officials said. Saratov Mayor Oleg Grishenko has not responded to a letter from Kleinschmidt, town officials said.

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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