Developer asks Chapel Hill for help with road work

tgrubb@newsobserver.comFebruary 11, 2014 

— The Town Council took a wait-and-see approach Monday to a developer’s plea for help affording up to $3.5 million in road improvements for a development near Interstate 40.

Northwood Ravin could submit a new plan within days for the Edge, a transit-oriented residential and commercial project on 54 acres off Eubanks Road, said Adam Golden, vice president of development.

The site is located beside the town’s park-and-ride lot and directly across Eubanks Road from the Northwoods subdivision.

Golden said Monday’s petition was aimed at starting a conversation with council members. The partnership would be contingent on getting the project approved, he said.

Traffic at the intersection of Eubanks Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard is bad and getting worse, he said. Northwood Ravin worked with town and N.C. Department of Transportation traffic engineers to come up with a list of improvements, including a wider Eubanks Road and new bike lanes and traffic signals. More turn lanes could be added to the MLK Boulevard intersection, he said.

The developer also worked with town economic development director Dwight Bassett to consider ways to finance the work. The town’s share could be paid after the project starts generating higher property tax revenues, Golden said.

The work could open the door to other Millhouse Road economic development opportunities, he said. If the town isn’t interested, Northwood Ravin wants a refund of its submission fees, he said.

“If we can’t get help with the improvements, we may be left with a project that’s not feasible,” Golden said. “We would probably be pulling out.”

The council is willing to listen but don’t expect a quick decision, Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said.

“There is no way that the council can provide you assurance today or this week that that discussion is going be affirmative and that you’re going to have that level of participation that you seek,” he said.

Council member Jim Ward said he’s also concerned that talking in earnest about a possible partnership could signal a positive outcome for the development proposal. He and other council members agreed more information is needed.

Town staff will report back at a future meeting.

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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