Chapel Hill nears deal for Glen Lennox renewal

tgrubb@newsobserver.comMay 12, 2014 

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The Glen Lennox Shopping Center in its final stage of construction in 1953. The site is a possibility for a mixed-use project.

NEWS & OBSERVER FILE PHOTO

— The Town Council could decide in June whether to proceed with a development agreement for the Glen Lennox mixed-use project.

The 70-acre residential and commercial redevelopment would be built over two decades, adding new streets and improving N.C. 54 and U.S. 15-501 connections. It has the potential to bring 1,500 new residential units, 600,000 square feet of office space and 150,000 square feet of retail.

Some concerns remain, including bike and pedestrian access, building design and potential effects of construction, traffic, noise and lights on neighbors, but council members were generally supportive at the May 5 meeting.

Neighbors, some of whom opposed earlier proposals, also voiced their support for the newest incarnation.

Residents praised developer Clay Grubb in particular for a plan to keep housing affordable for current residents. Town documents show the average rent at Glen Lennox is affordable for someone making up to 72 percent of the area’s average median income, or $47,500 a year.

A one-bedroom apartment at Glen Lennox rents for $725 to $905 a month, according to Rent.com, an online rental search page. Documents show there are 440 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments for rent in 78 one-story brick buildings, all of which were built by 1953.

The plan would link price increases on 15 percent of the rental housing to the Consumer Price Index for those who have lived in the neighborhood for at least five years. The Consumer Price Index is based on the current cost of goods and services.

The plan also would keep 15 percent of the project’s for-sale housing affordable.

Grubb Properties has worked with the community since 2010 to develop the Glen Lennox Neighborhood Conservation District and the development agreement. Existing N.C. 54 businesses and single-family homes to the north and east will not change.

The development agreement provides a framework and timeline for how Glen Lennox would be transformed over the next 20 years. Grubb has said the retail and office buildings along N.C. 54 could be built first. The developer still would have to seek permits for each stage of the project.

Grubb Properties and town staff also have worked with the N.C. Department of Transportation to design new intersections and traffic lanes for both highways. The development team is working with the Church of the Holy Family off U.S. 15-501 to allay concerns about access to the church’s parking lots.

Town staff will add ideas from the May 5 meeting to the agreement and schedule a public hearing for June. The council could vote at that meeting.

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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