The Town Council has begun delving into the retail potential and possible costs and benefits of the Edge project proposed for 54 acres on Eubanks Road.
The Edge – now in its fourth incarnation – would cover most of the largely wooded site with 18 to 35 buildings, parking and streets. The mix would be anywhere from 43 percent to 75 percent residential space, 15 percent to 44 percent retail and hotel space and 6 percent to 29 percent offices.
About 50 apartments – 7 percent to 13 percent of the proposed housing – could be priced for rent to those earning 80 percent or less of the area median income, or up to $56,800 a year for a family of four.
The town could annex the site if The Edge is approved. The Town Council will resume a public hearing on the project Jan 12, with any decision months away.
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The annual revenues to the town, depending on what is built, could range from $269,391 to $534,513 after figuring in the cost of services, said Ken Pennoyer, the town’s business management director.
Town staff considered two potential scenarios: a minimum of 650,000 square feet – 69 percent residential and 22 percent retail – to a maximum of 935,290 square feet (two to three times the size of University Mall) – 64 percent residential and 28 percent retail and hotel space.
The estimated property value, including for personal vehicles, could be roughly $118.7 million to $169.5 million, Pennoyer said, and bring the town general fund revenues of $761,000 to $1.2 million. The town’s cost to provide additional general fund services ranges from roughly $492,000 to $672,000, he said.
Public safety would pose the biggest cost increase, he said, followed by parks and recreation, general government services and the library. Preliminary estimates show the project could add 59 to 78 more students to local schools and 787 to 1,049 new residents, he said.
A 2011 retail market analysis shows there’s a potential for at least 25,000 to 100,000 square feet of new retail in northern Chapel Hill, said Dwight Bassett, economic development director. Another 60 acres could be developed potentially in the future, he said.
The town’s conversations with developers have not gone well so far, Bassett said, because the area offers major hurdles, from limited access at the Eubanks Road, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Interstate 40 intersection to low visibility and too few residents living in the area.
Council members said they’re interested in how to get past traffic and visibility issues.
“For us, to put more activities out there and not do anything to really address that very complicated intersection, I think is a mistake,” council member Jim Ward said.
The N.C. Department of Transportation helped draft a $3.5 million plan for two new stoplights; travel lanes, bike lanes and sidewalks on Eubanks Road; and additional turn lanes at the Eubanks-MLK Boulevard intersection. Northwood Ravin officials have asked the town to help pay the cost.
State officials also suggested more extensive improvements, ranging from $7 million to $10 million, to increase the retail opportunities, Bassett said. If the development’s sign is also a tall piece of public art, he said, it could be a visible anchor and welcome people to Chapel Hill.
Council member George Cianciolo said he’s not convinced signs are a big issue, citing The Streets at Southpoint as an example of a successful retail area that’s not really visible from the highway.
“You go there because you know what the stores are there,” he said. “You have the draws, and it’s easy to get on and off at (N.C.) 751 and Fayetteville Street.”