In the summer, it can seem like every street and every corner in southern Orange County has a project under construction.
While building normally ramps up from spring to fall, in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, the summer exodus of UNC students leaves a window of just a few months to start or finish major work. Apartment developers especially aim for late-summer openings to attract returning students.
This year’s projects also have galvanized residents concerned about the loss of long-wooded land and the effects on wildlife habitat and water quality. Chapel Hill and Carrboro have limited vacant land on which to build, leading to more redevelopment and projects on land with steep slopes or environmental challenges.
Two planned logging projects — one of which is still pending — have heightened the concerns.
The owner of 15 acres at Estes Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard decided this spring — soon after nearby land was cleared for a retirement community — to harvest the timber from her land. Although developers have approached landowner Kathryn Butler about projects in the past, there is nothing pending at this time.
It’s unclear if Butler plans to replant trees on the land.
The town also will be making changes to that area this summer, adding bike lanes, sidewalks and an off-road multi-use trail from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to Caswell Road.
A second logging project lies to the west, between the Chapel Hill-Carrboro border and Bolin Creek. There, landowner P.H. Craig plans to harvest the pines from 34 of his roughly 77 acres and replant the land with loblolly pines.
Craig is not planning to develop the land, but his project has sparked a community effort to get him to change his mind and sell the land to a preservation group. Residents also have asked the town of Chapel Hill to buy the land or pay Craig the value of his timber, and started a petition to ask the town for stronger tree-protection rules.
Meanwhile, several major projects are beginning or nearing completion:
Project description: Developer Northwood Ravin plans to build between 600,000 and 837,000 square feet of apartments, retail, offices and hotel rooms as part of this $100 million project. The 55-acre Eubanks Road site is adjacent to Interstate 40 and N.C. 86.
Happening now: The first, $70 million phase — 403 luxury apartments and 8,800 square feet of retail — is under construction. Northwood Ravin is negotiating with several retail, office and hotel users, and could have some formal announcements soon.
Road construction: Eubanks Road will be widened and new intersections will be built, including at the current N.C. 86/I-40 intersection. The $4.2 million plan also includes sidewalks and bike lanes. The town has agreed to help pay $1.3 million of the cost by delaying annexation and refunding some of the project’s new property taxes.
Residential: Between 43 percent and 75 percent of the project could be apartments, including 50 affordable apartments. The town would get the land slated for affordable housing if those units aren’t built by 2027.
Commercial: Between 15 percent and 44 percent of the project, including a hotel
Office: Between 6 percent and 29 percent of the project
Recreation: 16,000-square-foot Village Green, 24-hour clubhouse, saltwater pool, elevated sky lounge and fitness center
Estimated completion: The first phase is 60 percent complete and expected to open in late 2018/early 2019.
Project website: carrawayvillage.com
Project description: The town approved a 20-year development agreement in 2014 for Grubb Properties to redevelop this 1950s-era community and its shopping center, located on 70 acres east of the UNC campus.
Happening now: A ceremonial “groundbreaking” was held May 2 for the first phase: the 215-unit Link Apartments, a five-story parking deck and a 6,793-square-foot clubhouse and pool at Brandon and Flemington roads. Grubb Properties is negotiating with the town and Orange County for incentives that could offset the increased cost to build 105,000 square feet of office space now. Construction could start later this year.
Road construction: New neighborhood roads, and transit, bike and pedestrian facilities. Better connections to N.C. 54 and Fordham Boulevard, including a new U-turn and left-turn signals at two Fordham Boulevard intersections.
Residential: Up to 1,500 new apartments, plus existing single-family homes along the eastern property line
Affordable housing: Rent increases are limited for residents who have lived at Glen Lennox for at least five years. The developer also joined the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce master leasing pilot program, which would rent some units at market rate to a housing agency or other leaseholder. The leaseholder in turn could sublease apartments to approved renters at a cheaper rate.
Commercial: Up to 150,000 square feet, plus 150 hotel rooms
Office: Up to 600,000 square feet
Recreation: New greenways, open spaces, parks, and a clubhouse with saltwater pool, yoga studio and fitness center
Estimated completion: The first phase could wrap up in a couple of years, but the whole project is expected to take 20 years.
Project description: Leon Capital Group is working with Wegmans Food Markets to redevelop the old 14.7-acre Performance AutoMall site between U.S. 15-501 and Old Durham Road. Three smaller lots across Old Durham Road will be used for parking.
Happening now: Hendrick Automotive has moved its dealerships to the Southpoint Automall near The Streets at Southpoint in Durham.
Road construction: Surrounding roads and intersections will be improved. Drivers will enter the site using the Service Road parallel to U.S. 15-501 and driveways on Old Durham Road. A new roundabout is planned just west of Cooper Street. Future road improvements are possible.
Commercial: 130,000 square feet, with 750 parking spaces on both sides of Old Durham Road
Estimated completion: 2019
Project description: Ram Realty Advisers is replacing the former Days Inn hotel and an undeveloped lot at 1300 Fordham Blvd. with a five- to six-story apartment building and parking deck on 3.4 acres.
Happening now: The hotel was demolished this spring, and construction has started. The project is coinciding with the town’s work to create more Booker Creek floodwater storage and green spaces behind the shops on South Elliott Road.
Road construction: Improvements to the Service Road, sidewalks and bike lanes along Fordham Boulevard
Residential: 272 market-rate apartments
Recreation: Pedestrian and greenway connections, public outdoor space
Hillstone Chapel Hill
Project description: Two apartment buildings — one five to six stories and the other four stories — and structured parking is replacing the vacant Crown Honda-Volvo dealership and an undeveloped lot. The 6.5-acre site is at 1730 Fordham Blvd., between the Service Road and Legion Road.
Happening now: The vacant dealership has been demolished and construction is underway.
Road construction: A new street will connect the Service Road to Legion Road on the northeastern edge of the property. Streetscape improvements, including sidewalks and bike lanes, are planned for all three streets.
Updates: One lane on Legion Road will be closed Sept. 19-20 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Flaggers will guide traffic through the area.
Residential: 328 market-rate apartments
Recreation: Resort-style pool, fitness and wellness facility
Estimated completion: December 2019
Project description: The town of Chapel Hill and DHIC Inc. are building 149 affordable family and senior apartments on nine acres of town-owned land beside the Chapel Hill Memorial Cemetery on Legion Road.
Happening now: The project’s first phase — Greenfield Place — opened in January with 80 family apartments. Greenfield Commons, which includes 69 apartments for adults 55 and older, is under construction now.
Residential: 148 apartments, renting to families and seniors for $271 to $870 a month, based on household income and the number of bedrooms.
Recreation: A playground and clubhouse with a kitchen, business center and gathering space
Estimated completion: Greenfield Place is occupied; Greenfield Commons could open by February 2019
Chapel Hill Retirement Residence
Project description: Hawthorne Retirement Group is building a new retirement community on undeveloped land at the corner of Somerset Drive and North Estes Drive.
Happening now: The land has been cleared. Groundwork is progressing, and foundation work has started.
Road construction: New sidewalks, pedestrian crosswalks and bike lanes; a roundabout could be added in the future at the Somerset-Estes intersection.
Residential: 152 suites in a 3- to 4-story building
Recreation: A greenway connecting the site to the Phillips Middle and Estes Elementary school campuses
Estimated completion: September 2019
Residences at Grove Park
Project description: A mix of four-story apartment buildings and three-story townhouse-style apartments will replace 111 units built in the 1970s between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and 425 Hillsborough St. near downtown. Plans for the 12.3-acre project include a 5-story parking garage and 680 spaces.
Happening now: The former Town House Apartments is being demolished and construction has started.
Road construction: Hillsborough Street improvements include a bus pull off, sidewalks, and a left-turn lane and traffic-calming devices. A high-visibility crosswalk is planned for Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Residential: 339 apartments (850 beds)
Affordable housing: Six units will be leased to the town for $1 a month for 25 years.
Recreation: Includes a pool, fitness center, and clubhouse
Estimated completion: Anticipated leasing by 2020