List and Sell Your Equipment  /  Dealer Login  /  Create Account

VIDEO: Chapel Hill, N.C., is Reimagined With Dozens of Building Projects in the Works

Thu January 13, 2022 - Southeast Edition
Raleigh News & Observer

Visitors, University of North Carolina (UNC) alumni and even residents may not recognize parts of Chapel Hill once a bevy of new apartments, offices and retail spaces are built.

The town has multiple projects under construction and more pending once they receive approval from the Chapel Hill Town Council or Community Design Commission (CDC). Much is redevelopment, especially downtown and in the Blue Hill District, where decades-old parking decks and buildings are being replaced with taller, more modern construction.

Each project is assigned to a Technical Review Team of roughly 40 staff members and a case planner who manages the process, which can take takes 18 months to two years and can include staff, advisory board and town council reviews.

It can add up to a lot of hours for the roughly 14 full-time employees in the town's planning department, and for others in the fire department, public works, stormwater, and traffic engineering offices, Colleen Willger, director of Chapel Hill's planning department, told the News & Observer in an email.

"At every level, from staff, advisory boards, and commissions, to [the] council, the town is experiencing a challenging volume of work," she wrote.

Here are just a few of the projects under review or currently being built in the college town:

Blue Hill District

The first phase of the Park Apartments, at 1250 Ephesus Church Road, is adding 308 apartments, four buildings and a 500-space parking deck to the 13-acre site. Phase 2 will see the construction of 106 more apartments and eight buildings. The project also will include 207 bike parking spaces.

Nearby, the Elliott Road Extension is under construction between Ephesus Church Road, Fordham Boulevard and South Elliott Road. A roundabout also is to be built on Ephesus Church Road at the Kings Arms Apartments, completing part of the planned Blue Hill District transportation network.

The expected completion for each of these projects is 2023.

In the 1300 block of Fordham Boulevard., construction has begun on Millennium Chapel Hill, encompassing 3.9 acres, 274 apartments and 28 short-term lodging units. The five-story building will wrap around a six-story parking deck, accessible via the future Legion Road Extension. It replaces the since-demolished University Inn hotel built in the late 1960s.

Either Aura Blue Hill, now being reviewed by Chapel Hill's CDC, or another future project could build the rest of the extension to Fordham Boulevard. A new driveway has been installed on Ephesus Church Road at Legion Road, which could become a future Legion Road Extension to Fordham Boulevard. New bike lanes and sidewalks also are planned there.

At Aura Blue Hill, a total of 274 apartments and 23,083 sq. ft. of ground-floor commercial space is slated to be built in two, six-story buildings. One building would step down from six to four stories along Ephesus Church Road, with a rooftop terrace for events. The project also includes a seven-story, 409-space parking deck.

The site is on 2.76 acres near the intersection of Fordham Boulevard and Ephesus Church Road.

Trilogy Chapel Hill has 323 apartments in two buildings at 1730 Fordham Blvd., also known as 1000 Novus Lane.

One five-story building envelopes a parking deck and faces Fordham Boulevard; the other building is four stories with parking underneath, facing Legion Road. New bike lanes and sidewalks are set to be installed along Novus Lane, which was built through the site to connect the service road off Fordham Boulevard with Legion Road.

Downtown Chapel Hill

In the town's downtown, construction crews are now building a 1,100-space, six-story public parking deck on 1.6 acres at 125 E. Rosemary St. It includes a ground-floor retail porch with space for food trucks and pop-up businesses, and a public park in the lower part of the Rosemary-Columbia parking lot. The project site was part of a land swap and economic development venture between Grubb Properties and the town, according to the News & Observer.

The new deck replaces a privately-owned 276-space deck and a parking lot that was demolished last summer. In addition, the property will get new sidewalks, a midblock pedestrian crossing on East Rosemary Street, and driveways on both East Rosemary and North Street.

Grubb Properties also is modernizing the interior and exterior of a former CVS building, which stretches from East Franklin Street to East Rosemary, to create a business innovation hub called The Central.

The property is being redeveloped using federal Opportunity Zone tax credits into a 118,500-sq.-ft., modern office space and a CVS store on East Franklin Street, the college town's main avenue. In doing so, the real estate developer is working with the Chapel Hill to transform East Rosemary Street into a live-work-play corridor. The CVS renovation and the construction of the 125 E. Rosemary St. parking deck are now under way.

In addition, Grubbs could build a 238,000-sq.-ft. office and research building on the site of the Wallace Parking Deck at 150 Rosemary St. The proposed structure would be 132-ft.-high, including a 20-ft.-tall mechanical penthouse. Plans call for ground-floor retail space, offices, and wet labs, as well as a three-level, 158-space parking garage under the building.

As part of that project, a nearby 7,000-sq.-ft. park is planned at the corner of East Rosemary and Henderson streets.

The final building plans and permits are now under review by the Chapel Hill Town Council.

The Porthole Alley project downtown could add ground-floor retail spaces, with offices for the UNC Visitors Center, Undergraduate Admissions, and other university programs. A concept plan has two buildings connected via a skybridge and two green, public courtyards.

The building's owners — UNC, the State of North Carolina and the not-for-profit Chapel Hill Foundation Real Estate Holdings Inc. — have said the plan will preserve and renovate the historic Hill Building at 138 E. Franklin St.

Two adjacent properties, the Porthole Building on campus, and the parking lot behind the Hill Building would be redeveloped, with three stories on Franklin Street and taller construction in the back.

The Hill Building's main tenant, Carolina Coffee Shop, would remain, but its other tenants would have to move.

The town and UNC will hold more public meetings and hearings when an official application for the projects is sent.

The Rosemary-Columbia Hotel at 108 and 114 W. Rosemary St., and 205 N. Columbia St., is to be a 92,500-sq.-ft. Smart Hotels boutique inn with up to 135 rooms on 1.3 acres.

The L-shaped building would be four stories on West Rosemary Street, rising to five stories for most of the structure. Along North Columbia Street, it would step down to four stories, and is designed to wrap around the historic Old Town Hall. Plans also call for it to have a rooftop bar and an 8,180-sq.-ft., town-owned park.

New transportation-related changes to the property would include a driveway that is to circle the back of the building from Rosemary Street to a right-turn-only lane onto Columbia Street. A second right-in, right-out Columbia Street driveway would serve the hotel's drop-offs, plus a parking garage and the Old Town Hall.

The Town Council approved the project last November, but the developer needs final permits and building plan approvals.

The Link Apartments is planned as a seven-story building with up to 150 apartments and a small amount of ground-floor commercial space in what was a vacant PNC Bank at the northeastern corner of East Rosemary and North Columbia streets.

The 0.64-acre project would not include parking, because it is on multiple Chapel Hill Transit routes and the future North-South bus/rapid transit corridor. It also sits beside the town's new 1,100-space parking deck.

Chapel Hill's town council reviewed a concept plan for the Link Apartments last June and a conditional zoning application was given in July. A decision on the project could come in January or February.

Down the street at 318-326 West Rosemary, the Amity 5 project is planned to be a quintet of four-story, 19,999-sq.-ft. buildings — one for each of the five lots that make up the former Breadmen's site, a longtime student eatery that was demolished last year after the business moved to a new location.

The News & Observer reported that the project meets the current zoning requirements and will not need council review after years of unsuccessful negotiations for other proposals between the former owners, residents, and the town. A Raleigh student housing developer ended up purchasing the nearly 1.3-acre site for $7.15 million in 2021.

Town staff could issue construction permits within a couple of weeks.

Today's top stories

Determination Puts Dennis Concrete Among South's Top Firms

Hyundai Construction Equipment Names Top Dealers of 2021

GOMACO Introduces Savvy Concrete Paving Technology at World of Concrete 2022

Tennessee Valley Authority's $85M Improvements Ensure Reliable Service to Customers

SEAA Names NFL Great Joe Theismann as Keynote Speaker for 50th Anniversary Convention

Federal Funds for Aberdeen, Miss., Port Expected to Spur Regional Economy

Demolition Crews Proceed Carefully to Avoid Premature Collapse of Old Span

New FedEx Facility Going Up at Business Park Near Hattiesburg, Miss., Airport


ceg-logo ceg-logo ceg-logo ceg-logo ceg-logo