A concept plan submitted in late July proposes fewer apartments and more office and civic space on 36 acres of American Legion land at 1714 Legion Road.
Woodfield Investments is under contract to buy the tract from American Legion Post 6 for $10 million. Roughly 25 percent of the site, which includes an existing floodplain and Resource Conservation District, could remain open space, stream buffers and trails.
Plans for the land have drawn fire since residents learned a previous Town Council had decided to pass on the opportunity to buy the land for $9 million. Many residents have asked the current council to reverse that decision and buy the land for the community.
The council heard from residents and Post members in June and directed town staff to work through key questions this summer, including how the project could affect traffic, housing needs, potential public and private partners, and the impact of a future light-rail transit station to the east.
Woodfield’s revised plan proposes 500,000 to 550,000 square feet, including a 50,000 to 100,000 square foot office building fronting Legion Road and 304 to 400 garden-style apartments at the center of the site. A plan shows two four-story apartment buildings surrounding four courtyards.
A second building slated for office, civic or flexible uses could be built near Ephesus Park. Woodfield has been talking with YMCA officials about potential uses for the civic space.
The town’s Community Design Commission is expected to review the concept plan Aug. 23. It could go to the council for review and comments Sept. 19. The council does not vote on concept plans, because they are not formal applications.
The suggested development would require rezoning the land.
Woodfield officials said the previous concept plan, which included 600-plus apartments and a 50,000-square-foot office building, was revised to address public concerns.
The new plan, they said, creates a transition from the commercial uses on Europa Drive and in the Ephesus-Fordham form-based code district to the surrounding neighborhoods and the town park. The plan also “supports the future Gateway Light Rail station by providing additional employment and housing close to public transportation,” they said.
“Woodfield is committed to working with the town to find a suitable mix to increase housing affordability in Chapel Hill, including ways to promote housing for teachers, police officers, firemen and other Town employees,” the plan states.
The plan notes improvements to adjacent streets and intersections might be needed, including a new left turn on Legion Road.
Woodfield has tentatively agreed to build a new street from Legion Road – through the site and Ephesus Park – to Ephesus Church Road. The developer also could expand an existing trail system, adding three connections to Adelaide Walters Street, Fountain Ridge Road and Ferrell Road.
The project would require draining the pond at the American Legion, but three new ponds would be built to modern stormwater standards.
The town’s Community Design Commission will review the concept plan at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 23 in the Town Hall Council Chamber, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The concept plan will go to the Town Council for review and comments at 7 p.m. Sept. 19 in the Council Chamber.