Mixed-use project to test Chapel Hill redevelopment rules

tgrubb@newsobserver.comSeptember 3, 2014 

  • What’s next?

    The Village Plaza Apartments on South Elliott Road will be the first project to test the town’s new form-based code zoning. Find all the project documents at bit.ly/1pJ7uX7.

    • Projects that meet code requirements must be approved by the town manager within 45 days of the town’s accepting completed applications.

    • The Community Design Commission will review projects for how they look and fit into their surroundings; the public can attend and speak at those meetings. The commission will review Village Plaza Apartments Sept. 23.

    • Town Council members could review the first few form-based code projects to offer suggestions, though they would not make decisions on them.

  • Project stats

    • Name: Village Plaza Apartments

    • Location: 211 S. Elliott Road, Chapel Hill

    • Developer: Roger and Lee Perry, East West Partners (Chapel Hill)

    • Property owner: Village Plaza Apartments LLC

    • Acres: 3

    • Residential: 266 one- and two-bedroom apartments

    • Affordable housing: None

    • Parking: 463 ground-level and parking deck spaces, 78 bicycle spaces

    • Zoning: WX-7 (walkable, mixed-use, up to seven stories or 90 feet tall)

    • Open space/amenities: Roughly 35,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor amenities, including private pool, courtyard and bocce ball court

    • Appraised property value: $1.3 million

    • 2014 property tax bill: $24,217

— The first project proposed for the town’s Ephesus Fordham redevelopment district is a 90-foot-tall building with 266 apartments, 15,600 square feet of retail space and an attached parking deck.

Developer East West Partners wants to build its “Village Plaza Apartments” on the long-vacant Plaza Theater site at 211 S. Elliott Road. The 305,000-square-foot building would offer one- and two-bedroom apartments priced at market rates. For details, see bit.ly/1pJ7uX7.

Developer Lee Perry said the name of the project – a joint venture with Trammell Crow Residential, a Texas-based multifamily real estate company – soon will change.

The project is the first that could be approved by the town manager, instead of the Town Council, under the new form-based code zoning that streamlines the development process by specifying how buildings should look and fit their surroundings.

At 95 percent residential, the project is expected to set the pace for other property owners in the 180-acre district who might redevelop their strip malls and parking lots. The town’s goal for the district is to fund needed traffic and stormwater improvements, while increasing the commercial tax base.

East West Partners is not proposing any affordable housing for residents making 80 percent or less of the area’s median income (AMI). The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines 80 percent of AMI in Chapel Hill as a two-person household earning $42,050 a year.

The project’s ground-floor restaurant and commercial space, lined with trees, tables and chairs, would face Elliott Road and Whole Foods. It would be slightly larger, for comparison, than the 13,000-square-foot Trader Joe’s at Shops at Eastgate.

The developer also plans more than 35,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, including a private pool and bocce court. Project documents state neighbors Whole Foods and Village Plaza could share 463 ground-level and parking deck spaces. There also will be 78 bike spots.

East West Partners agreed earlier this summer to pay for the construction of a new street connecting Elliott Road – at the former Red, Hot & Blue restaurant – with its parking deck and another road between Booker Creek and the Village Plaza shops. The creekside road would end across from the Burger King on Elliott Road.

Other pedestrian options include new bike lanes, eight-foot sidewalks and relocated greenway links, which count as half of the developer’s required payment to the town for recreation space.

McAdams Co. construction consultants estimate developing the largely paved lot will only add 1,260 square feet of impervious surface, responsible for stormwater runoff. The developer plans a wetlands retention area and an underground sand filter to hold and slowly filter pollutants from the water.

The Town Council approved new zoning and development approval rules for the district in May. The rules authorize the town manager to approve development projects that meet the district’s new form-based code, a checklist of building heights, placement, landscaping and other details.

Although the council could review the first few projects submitted under the form-based code, Town Manager Roger Stancil must approve projects that meet the qualifications within 45 days of ensuring the application is complete. The town’s Community Design Commission will review projects – on an advisory basis – for design elements, colors and other ways new buildings fit into their environment.

The project needs a form-based code permit and certificate of appropriateness to move ahead.

The commission’s meeting are open to the public. Village Plaza Apartments is scheduled for the commission’s Sept. 23 meeting.

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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