Category Archives: Chapel Hill’s economic development

Proposal for apartments, parking deck and retail for busy Estes Drive/MLK intersection

The Community Design Commission will discuss a proposed concept plan for a development on the north east corner of MLK and Estes in the Town Hall Council Chamber this Tues evening (May 23) at 6:30 pm.  The link to the concept plan is here.

The plan calls to construct 327,380 sq ft which is essentially the same size as University Place (previously University Mall) including a 65,000 sq ft hotel, 40,000 sq ft of office, 20,000 sq ft of retail, 20,000 sq ft of commercial space and 175 apartments for a total of 670 parking spots.

The site is presently wooded and is rather narrow, the longest portion along Estes Drive.  Access roads into the project so near a busy intersection will certainly not do anything good for Estes Drive traffic. The developer is proposing an entrance on MLK nearer the intersection with Piney Mountain Rd which looks like it would add to congestion in the area and reduce safety for folks crossing Shadowwood to catch the bus to UNC.

The public is invited to attend the meeting, listen to the developer’s presentation and to offer comment. The project may or may not be compatible with the Central West Small Area Plan — but it must be noted that a large number of area residents were not at all pleased with the CWSAP that the committee approved. The project is also on the Horace Williams  flight path and it’s not clear how it would be safe to put buildings in the flight path with the airport open. This project is likely to add to the storm runoff into Booker Creek.

Listen to the audio of the Community Design meeting here.

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How Do Developments Help Chapel Hill?

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Chapel Hill’s ‘Trickle-down’ Housing Policy

By John Quinterno

One of the unaddressed issues that CHALT would like to see more fully explored is what is causing the explosion in the construction of new luxury apartments and the migration of students away from on-campus.  This article by John Quinterno appeared in the November 11th, 2015 edition of the Chapel Hill News:

“Chapel Hill regards itself as a progressive community due to past policy choices and symbolic stances on numerous environmental and social issues. Yet when it comes to housing policy, the town has embraced “trickle-down” economics to a degree that would make Ronald Reagan blush with pride.

Town leaders recently have steered Chapel Hill from a path of deliberate development onto one of rapid growth – a shift embodied in the mushrooming across town of high-rise, high-rent apartment towers. By one tally, the town has approved since 2007 the construction of 6,059 housing units, of which 2,171 have been or are being built. Constructing all of remaining 3,888 approved units alone would increase the town’s housing stock by 17.5 percent over the 2010 level….

“The rationale for this change in direction is that the town’s housing supply must expand if there are to be homes affordable to low- and middle-income households. And the way to ensure that is, counter-intuitively, by encouraging the construction of high-end housing units.

Anyone who has taken a basic microeconomics course recalls that, all else equal, an increase in the supply of a good should lower that good’s price. What people forget is that this dynamic applies to normal commodities traded in competitive markets. A normal commodity is one that is uniform in nature, and a competitive market is one in which no one actor can set the price.

Housing exhibits neither trait because the underlying supply of land is finite and heterogeneous. A parcel’s value th

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John Quinterno Debunks Myth that Chapel Hill is Slow Growth

In a fascinating free talk sponsored by C.H.A.L.T. on October 12, John Quinterno of South by North Strategies Ltd., a local consulting firm specializing in economic and social policy, debunked the popular myth that Chapel Hill is a town that doesn’t grow. Both the town’s population and its housing stock grew by almost 50 percent from 1990 to 2010, and both are projected to keep growing. By any objective measure, Chapel Hill has grown tremendously, but the town’s growth has occurred in a more deliberate manner than in many other parts of the Triangle.

Understanding the reality of past growth in Chapel Hill is essential for understanding the context of the upcoming municipal elections. Many incumbent council members believe that Chapel Hill needs to grow at a much faster rate to make up for lost time and to keep pace with neighboring communities. To that end, the council has championed a trajectory of faster growth led by high-end, high-rise residential construction. While this new trajectory may be more financially lucrative for certain vested interests, it can impose significant costs on current residents and businesses in such forms as higher future taxes, congestion, environmental degradation, household and business displacement, and neighborhood destabilization.

“By any objective standard, Chapel Hill has grown rapidly, if more deliberately than other parts of the Triangle,” said Quinterno. “The decision to change course, then, is a political one that has little to do with growth and everything to do with power: the power to govern, the power to decide whose interests matter, the power to spend public dollars, and the power to require the public to subsidize the profits of favored private interests.”

The Daily Tarheel live tweeted the event, and the Storify collection is here.

Attached are John Quinterno’s slides from the event.

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