As construction moves forward with the Shortbread Lofts development on Rosemary Street, developer Larry Short is reaching out to the Northside community to offer jobs to residents.
“My goal is to hire as many people out of Northside as we can who are looking for work and are unemployed or underemployed and can qualify for the jobs at Shortbread,” Short said.
The development, a primarily student-oriented housing complex, will bring 85 apartments and 121 parking spaces to downtown Chapel Hill.
Short said he is planning a job fair at Northside’s Hargraves Community Center.
Available positions include carpenters, laborers, concrete framers and steel workers, and qualified applicants from Northside will be given priority.
Northside resident Petrina Carver said she is happy to hear about Short’s efforts.
“I think it’s something nice,” said Carver.
Elisha Massey, a Northside resident of 14 years, agreed.
“I think it will make a difference — there’s a lot of unemployment around here.”
Short said he expects to offer between two and 20 positions at any given phase of construction. The length of the jobs will range from six months to a year — though some could last longer.
Town Council member Donna Bell said she is not surprised to see Shortbread Lofts open its construction positions to Northside residents first.
“I think Larry Short has shown over time that he has a commitment to Chapel Hill and the community as a whole,” Bell said. “I’m glad it’s happening.”
Bell said the Chapel Hill Town Council is committed to preserving the Northside neighborhood.
“One of the reasons we approved (the development) is because we think that creating more density in the Rosemary-Franklin corridor is going to make some shifts in where students live,” Bell said.
Residents of the historically black and low-income Northside neighborhood have faced rising rents and eviction as students flooded the area looking for cheap rental housing.
Short said the development could help mitigate the loss of single-family homes to student renters.
“I think bringing 85 student apartments downtown, which are going to be the size of houses in Northside, might save some of those houses from being converted to student rentals or might slow that process,” Short said.
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