Editor’s note: This story was corrected from the version published Jan. 21 to clarify that the developer has one Obey Creek proposal, with a minimum and a maximum number of square feet.
The Town Council will talk this week about the Obey Creek development across the highway from Southern Village and how a town park-and-ride lot fits into that future.
Dover Kohl consultants will lead two days of brainstorming and planning as part of the town’s negotiations with developer East West Partners.
A development agreement, if approved, would set the pace and expectations for building the retail, office and residential project over the next two decades. The council is not expected to vote on the agreement before June.
The 120-acre Obey Creek site, east of U.S. 15-501 South, is zoned now for up to 79 single-family homes, but development officials want the land rezoned to mixed use, so they can build 1.5 million square feet on 35 acres.
Another 85 acres could be preserved for public use.
The council also is considering whether to redevelop an 8.4-acre park-and-ride lot at Southern Village. Whatever is built – a parking deck, retail and affordable housing have been mentioned – should complement the land uses at Southern Village and Obey Creek, officials said.
The Dover Kohl team will lead a park-and-ride lot charrette, or planning discussion, at 7 p.m. Thursday. They then will work with town staff to develop the proposed ideas before a 1:30 p.m. meeting Friday with the public.
The council will meet again at 4 p.m. Friday to talk about the park-and-ride, Obey Creek and how to create efficient connections in southern Chapel Hill and with the rest of town.
The meetings are aimed at creating a gateway destination for the town and getting the best possible design, financial outcome and public amenities from Obey Creek and the park-and-ride lot.
Other questions will focus on pedestrian, bike and road improvements that could help people move efficiently; whether UNC should play a role, in creating a performing arts venue or housing, for instance; and the potential effect on schools.
Dover Kohl officials will use the information to draft a refined set of options for a future discussion.
Obey Creek’s proposed buildings could be two stories near the highway, rising to eight stories as the project descends the hill. East West Partners has asked to build up to 1.6 million square feet but wants a flexible agreement that can meet changing market demand over the next few decades.
The current proposal calls for a maximum of 673 residential units, 327,180 square feet of retail, 242,070 square feet of office space and 112,220 square feet for a hotel. A preliminary fiscal analysis estimates the project’s value at nearly $300 million, generating roughly $2.3 million in annual town revenues and $1.3 million in costs.
The developer recommended setting a required minimum for each use – totaling 680,000 square feet – to include 250 residential units, 200,000 square feet of retail and 150,000 square feet of office space.
The remaining 920,000 square feet could be adjusted over time to meet changing demands, developer Roger Perry said, provided the changes don’t make traffic worse or surpass a 1.6 million-square-foot cap. Changes that might make traffic worse, he said, could trigger a town review process.
Besides the project’s scale, the biggest concerns are increased vehicle traffic and safe alternatives, how to handle stormwater runoff and protect the environment, options for affordable housing and whether the town will earn more from the development than it spends.
Residents have encouraged the council to use a narrow strip of land it owns between the Obey Creek parcels as leverage to get more concessions. The plan being considered now is to swap the town’s land for some or all of the Obey Creek conservation land.