By Del Snow
At a Nurturing High Tech Businesses in Chapel Hill forum sponsored by CHALT on June 7, 2016, the need for a couple of hundred thousand square feet of commercial space for start-ups was broadcast by the very professionals who need them. Keeping homegrown ventures in Chapel Hill could add millions of dollars to the local economy and provide hundreds of jobs. (See: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/community/chapel-hill-news/article83344382.html )
Carraway Village (formerly The Edge) on Martin Luther King Blvd and Eubanks Rd, could create a local version of Research Triangle Park instead of 400-700 luxury apartments that are proposed. The 55-acre property approved for 600,000-837,000 sq ft of development, could provide start-up space, some housing, a hotel, and a sorely needed small convention center with a capacity for hundreds of people to attend conferences. Parking would not be a problem and a proposed Bus Rapid Transit line could provide a quick link down to campus if necessary. The easy access off of I-40 would offer a connection to the larger Triangle area.
A Chapel Hill Research Park (CHRP) could provide both a successful investment for Northwood Ravin as well as having the distinction of contributing to the Town’s reputation as an entrepreneurial hub. Additionally, by adding to the commercial tax base, CHRP would improve Chapel Hill’s fiscal sustainability. The developer, Northwood Ravin, who is working with the UNC Foundation on the redevelopment of Carolina Square,is currently negotiating with the Town for an over $1 million contribution for road improvements. This would be an excellent opportunity to help Northwood Ravin see the light about what working with the Town really means.