It’s too early to tell whether Blue Hill District, formerly known as the Ephesus-Fordham District, will live up to its full potential as the area evolves with new development. Mixed reactions to the changes occurring have overwhelmed the 180-acre district.
Blue Hill District covers the northeastern edge of Chapel Hill from South Elliott Road, East Franklin Street, Fordham Boulevard to Ephesus Church Road. The newly named district models to be a place where people can live, shop, dine and work. Many new businesses have arrived in the district including Chop't, Zoe’s Kitchen, Babalu Tapas and Tacos and others.
But former member of the Chapel Hill Town Council Julie McClintock believes the area is losing its mom and pop shops to corporate chains.
“So if you rezone, what happens to the land?” McClintock said. “The land value goes up. So when the property value goes up, the property owner raises his rents and this is the problem. But the question is who is filling it and what has happened to the businesses that people like me depend on.”
Since the district was rezoned with a form-based code in 2014, the area has attracted more than $125 million in new development. A form-based code is a regulation that streamlines development proposals to the town manager to help incentivize developers to invest in a particular area.