East West Partners will build a planned road through a South Elliott Road parking lot after all, developer Roger Perry said Friday.
The road would begin at Elliott Road near a former, freestanding restaurant (the old Red Hot & Blue) and run north between Village Plaza and the vacant movie theater site. It would be the main entrance to a future parking deck at East West Partners’ planned residential and commercial development and would end at a future road along the Booker Creek Trail, between Village Plaza and Eastgate shopping center.
Perry said they changed the road plans this week in response to weeks of public comments. East West Partners had agreed with the town to donate half the road’s right-of-way – Village Plaza owner Regency Centers would donate the other half – if the town would build and maintain the road. East West Partners would have been responsible for on-street parking, sidewalks streetscapes and other roadside amenities.
Perry said he “got irritated and frustrated” with the comments directed at the town and staff members after questions were raised about who would pay for the road. East West Partners will take on thousands of dollars in additional costs by building the road, he said, but they wanted to end the conversation.
“It got to be a reflection on staff and the town that was totally unfair and uncalled for,” he said, “by that small group of people who make noise about everything.”
East West Partners could submit a formal application for the project – the first for the town’s new form-based code zoning district – in September. If all goes as planned, the project could break ground by the end of the year, Perry said.
The Town Council also expects to receive a road update in September, when at least 75 percent of the planning is done.
Council member Matt Czajkowski raised initial questions about the road in June. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce’s March presentation to local business owners suggested developers might pay for the road, he said. The concern is that the town has $8.8 million set aside to pay for district road projects, and the money should be used to build those first, Czajkowski said.
The town is financing $10 million in transportation and stormwater improvements in the district using Town Hall as collateral. The town plans to repay the debt with future increases in property tax revenues or with money set aside for future debt payments.
A town of Chapel Hill slide in the chamber presentation lists the roughly 400-foot road as being “by others.” That slide also lists $8.8 million in district road projects, but the road in question isn’t one of them.
Town Manager Roger Stancil told the council in an email last month that the slide presentation was not clear.
The council rezoned most of the 180-acre Ephesus-Fordham district in May and approved a new form-based code to guide its redevelopment. One of the district’s goals is better transportation connections, but the cost is more than the town or any one developer could bear alone, officials said.