Chapel Hill to hear plans for 123 West Franklin project Monday

tgrubb@newsobserver.comNovember 11, 2012 

— The Town Council will hear public comment Monday about a planned rezoning and redevelopment of the University Square shopping center on West Franklin Street.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall Council Chamber.

Developer Cousins Properties LLC plans to raze five office and retail buildings on the 6.8-acre downtown lot and replace them with three taller buildings. University Square and adjacent Granville Towers total 12.9 acres between West Franklin Street, Cameron Avenue, University Baptist Church and Panera Bread.

The property is owned by Chapel Hill Foundation Real Estate Holdings Inc. It must be rezoned and the town’s height restrictions modified to accommodate the plan’s 11-story and five-story buildings.

If the rezoning is approved, the council also will consider a special-use permit application for 123 West Franklin’s 300 rental units – 295,000 square feet – 210,000 square feet of office and clinic space, and 75,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. The project includes green spaces, including an 18,130-square-foot central gathering spot.

The plan more than doubles parking to 1,023 spaces and moves it behind the buildings, both above and below ground. It would close two West Franklin Street driveways, and includes a separate application for adding driveway access on Cameron Avenue.

The town has recommended that the developer leave space for a future road connection on the eastern side of the property. However, the developer and property owner countered with an offer to reserve the town 24 feet of driveway space for 20 years. The town would be responsible for obtaining rights of way for any additional space.

The developer expects the redeveloped property to have a tax value of $75 million to $100 million when completed, possibly by 2017.

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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