Chapel Hill News

Two buildings proposed for Rams Plaza

Raleigh

Developers submitted plans last week for two new, one-story buildings at Rams Plaza, in the town’s Ephesus-Fordham form-based code district.

Form-based code ( nando.com/th) gives developers a checklist of construction requirements and focuses on how buildings relate to their surroundings. The Ephesus-Fordham district, from Elliott Road to Fordham Boulevard and Ephesus Church Road, allows up to 90-foot buildings in some places.

Town Manager Roger Stancil approved the town’s first form-based code project – the 90-foot-tall Village Plaza apartments on Elliott Road – Jan. 8.

The latest plans were submitted Jan. 12: a 13,013-square-foot CVS store at the intersection of Ephesus Church Road and Fordham Boulevard, and a 4,000-square-foot building beside Bailey’s Sports Grille. The land is covered now by a parking lot; the CVS would replace a smaller Ram’s Plaza store.

The plans include a number of improvements to the surrounding roads and the shopping center’s streetscape, sidewalks and stormwater controls. The area now handles a large amount of stormwater that flows past Rams Plaza on its way to Booker Creek.

Town staff could decide whether the applications are complete by Monday, Jan. 26, Stancil said, starting the clock for approving or rejecting the projects. Form-based code requires the town manager to make a final decision within 45 days of receiving a complete application or 15 days after the Community Design Commission approves a Certificate of Appropriateness. The applicant can get more time, as East West Partners did with its Village Plaza project.

While the Town Council has an option to review the first few projects submitted in the district, its members will not hold public hearings or vote on those plans. The council still holds public hearings and votes on projects and land rezonings proposed for other parts of town.

The Ram’s Plaza projects are possible, officials said, because the town is changing the way drivers, cyclists and pedestrians navigate the complicated Ephesus Church-Fordham intersection. The town is paying $8.8 million to improve district roads so property owners will want to redevelop.

Architectural firm Coulter Jewell Thames submitted the plan for a one-story retail and restaurant building with 36 parking spaces. The work includes realigning the Fordham Boulevard Service Road to create a four-way intersection. The town would reimburse the developer for road work.

The district’s third plan, from CVS developer Reddlands Inc., is for a one-story retail store with a pharmacy and drive-through window. The Ephesus-Fordham district allows drive-throughs if they do not face the street and allow pedestrians and other cars to navigate the area safely.

The project also includes 64 parking spaces and a dedicated right-of-way for the new Ephesus-Fordham intersection. The town expects to start rebuilding district roads later this year.

Town staff also is reviewing a request from Village Plaza owner Regency Centers to demolish the old Red, Hot and Blue restaurant near Whole Foods. Regency Centers would replace the building with a temporary parking lot. Plans for a new building would be submitted at a later date.

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