A few years ago a developer purchased a small lot near the Elliott Road Fire Station and proposed to build a seven story hotel, despite the fact the Council had already approved a new permit for the property. Since council members and advisory board members over the past few years have expressed skepticism about the proposal, his plans for the property have become less clear. The developer has tried various tactics to get his project approved. See End Run story from last year.
The neighbors of the property located at 1609 E. Franklin, the Coker Hills neighborhood, and two long term local businesses on either side (Psychology Associates and The Ballet School), have continued to fight for appropriate development for this gateway location in Chapel Hill.
On January 20, 2016, in a surprise announcement at the opening of the Town Council public hearings on the Special Use Permit submitted for a 6 story chain hotel, HPW, the applicant/developers, announced that they would be interested in avoiding a vote (which they admitted they would most likely lose) so that they could keep in place the 2009 permit for a two story office building. We hear they are interested in selling and assume the property would be worth more if they could get an extension on the former permit than if it reverted back to having none.
At the hearing, the staff recommended a recess to sort out the confusion. But Mayor Pam Hemminger insisted that citizens’ concerns be heard. Some noted that for the first time they read a full spectrum of opinion in the recommendations in the packet reporting on the Planning Commission and CDC discussions.
Just within the last two weeks, the developer has asked the Town for an extension of the permit for 5 years for the original permit for the property. This matter will be on the Council agenda February 22. Coker Hills and neighbors of the property are concerned about granting a five-year extension as it deviates from normal procedure. See their letter here.