The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday June 29th

Meadowmont: Not Your Average 'Hood

Meadowmont is a 435-acre area, located just a few miles east of campus off N.C. 54, that will house homes, stores, offices and a school.

The development incorporates many aspects of what is called a "new urbanist" or "mixed-use" development, said developer Roger Perry. In essence, people can live and work in the same area and never have to drive.

Perry, of East West Partners, said the community was built in such a way as to make people "less dependent on one-person motor vehicles in order to reduce the number of trips and the length of the trips they take."

But many residents in surrounding neighborhoods fought proposals to develop Meadowmont because they felt it would decrease the property values of nearby homes and increase traffic in that area. Despite concerns, developers broke ground on the project in May 1999.

In response to residents' concerns, the area of N.C. 54 near Meadowmont is being expanded from four to six lanes to help ease the burden of more traffic.

So far, the developers have broken ground on two-thirds of the 435-acre tract that has been zoned for single family homes, apartments, a Harris Teeter grocery store, restaurants, shops and corporate offices.

Perry said Franklin Street Partners, a money managing firm, and Central Carolina Bank regional offices will be opening in Meadowmont.

There will also be a 70-acre park and an elementary school for Chapel Hill students that is expected to be finished by 2003.

Perry said about the only thing missing would be a movie theater. He said no movie theater was planned because the area was not large enough for both that and a grocery store. "We thought people would rather eat than watch (a movie)," he said.

Perry, who has been a developer for 30 years, said East West Partners decided to develop the tract of land in this new urban style because, "it is the way our industry is trending now."

He said developers are coming back to a small-town feel for new developments.

Chapel Hill Town Council member Joyce Brown said Meadowmont would be good for the community because it would bring a mix of housing types that Chapel Hill needs.

She said that now most Chapel Hill homes are relatively expensive family homes. "It will bring a variety of dwelling units this area desperately needs," she said.

The development will have a total of 1,300 apartments and homes, Perry said.

The elementary school being built in Meadowmont will also help with the overcrowding in Chapel Hill schools, Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board member Elizabeth Carter said.

Also included in Meadowmont will be bikeways and trails for pedestrians to use. The largest of the planned parks will have a gazebo/bandstand that will be able to host events such as concerts or festivals.

Meadowmont will also include a pond with picnic areas near it and a large park. This park will remain in its original state except for a few trails blazed through it. These trails will be for people to enjoy the "native nature," as the design plans called it, of Chapel Hill.

One last thing being planned is a swim club, complete with a water slide in the pool and volleyball courts surrounding it. "There will be a community swimming pool, a 100-foot water slide and a competitive swimming league," Perry said.

Despite the objections to the building of the "Meadowmonster," when the project is finished three years from now, most town officials, like Council member Brown, are confident that it will be worth the momentary aggravation.

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