Developer packs appeal into plans for motel site

Staff WriterMay 3, 2006 

  • 203: Number of one- and two-bedroom condominiums slated for University Village

    $250,000: Starting price for the market-rate condos

    62: Number of affordable condominiums, priced about $100,000

    140: Number of rooms planned for the hotel, replacing the 84 rooms at the existing University Inn

    786: Number of parking spaces

    5,600: Number of car trips per day the project will generate

— A $95 million development featuring condominiums, retail and office space, and a hotel will replace the Best Western University Inn motel on N.C. 54 -- if the town approves plans submitted Tuesday.

Roger Perry, head of East West Partners, the company that developed the nearby Meadowmont mixed-use community, is trying to make the project as appealing as possible to the green-minded Town Council.

University Village will reuse stormwater for irrigation and car washes and also encourage walking and the use of public transit, Perry said.

It also will be built according to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design guidelines. The system awards points for environmentally sound construction practices, such as using nontoxic building materials and windows to encourage "daylighting," which saves energy.

Also, 30 percent of the 203 condominiums will be designated as affordable housing, costing about $100,000 or less, Perry said. That meets another council priority and is double the 15 percent affordable housing requirement imposed on developers.

"We've been [working] here for 15 years," Perry said Tuesday in his Chapel Hill office, adding that he hopes to have tenants moving in by summer 2008. "We've learned a little bit about what the town prefers and how they like to do things. Life's too short not to try to do what the community wants done."

Town Council members can't comment on pending development applications because they must not show any bias before reviews. Early concept plans for the project got a generally warm reception from the council. One resident aired concerns, including the traffic the project would generate.

Mayor Kevin Foy acknowledged the congestion on N.C. 54 but said the town can't simply stop development there.

"What we are trying to do around town, especially on highly traveled corridors, is look for projects that encourage transportation," Foy said.

University Village would be on a bus line and could have a stop for any future local or regional rail system, Perry said.

"We're not just going to solve all of our traffic problems by saying we're not going to permit new developments," Foy said. "But we're doing our best not to add to our traffic problems where we've already got them."

The council will probably begin reviewing the project in about six weeks.

Staff writer Matt Dees can be reached at 932-8760 or matt.dees@newsobserver.com.

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