A proposed apartment complex drew criticism from Chapel Hill Town Council members who said the complex won’t appeal to longtime residents in the town.
The project was proposed by John McAdams of the McAdams Company with Wintergreen Hospitality, which owns the Franklin Hotel, during a public hearing Monday.
The developers would demolish the .7-acre parking lot between Kenan and Mallette streets behind the Franklin Hotel to make way for the complex.
The housing project is expected to house 177 residents in one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units.
McAdams said the development would address long-debated concerns about students living in the Franklin/Rosemary Historic District and the Northside neighborhood.
“Potentially some of the students living (in Northside) would move into this project and take some pressure off of that neighborhood,” he said.
But Town Council member Matt Czajkowski said this might not be the case.
“If they were living out somewhere in Durham and they decided to move downtown, that’s different. But you’re not taking them out of Northside,” Czajkowski said.
Council members said the proposal won’t appeal to non-students because its housing units are planned around roommates and not families.
Council member Lee Storrow said he was unsure about the possibility of a mix of student and non-student residents.
“It’s hard for me to imagine that some of our older residents who are low-wage workers are going to have the same interest in a project that sounds like it’s going to be 90 percent students,” he said.
Storrow added the council has recently approved two student-oriented projects — Shortbread Lofts and the Bicycle Apartments.
Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said a tall building might be inconvenient for the residents.
Czajkowski said the project wouldn’t really increase the walkability of downtown.
“Walkability is fabulous. It frees up downtown parking spaces, reduces traffic,” he said. “But if this is purpose-built for students they’re walking anyway.”
Council member Ed Harrison was most concerned with losing the parking.
The new parking deck would provide 120 spaces at the expense of 46 public parking spots in the current lot, which he said was considerable in the context of Chapel Hill.
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