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Friday September 30th

Eubanks Road could see new development, possible traffic problems

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Bad traffic might stop a new Chapel Hill development in its tracks.

Last month, developers for “the Edge” asked the Chapel Hill Town Council to help pay for improvements on Eubanks Road to alleviate potential traffic problems associated with the 54-acre mixed use development.

In its original application, the Edge was billed as a project that could bring retail, housing and transit opportunities to the Eubanks Road area.

Adam Golden, vice president of development for the Edge’s newest developer, Northwood Ravin, said the company has already applied for a special use permit from the town, which included a request for the town’s help in paying for the estimated $3.5 million road improvements.

In a letter to the council, Golden said he worked with the town’s engineering department and the N.C. Department of Transportation and determined that updates to Eubanks Road were required in order for the Edge development to succeed.

In his letter to the town, Golden said his project would require widening Eubanks Road in both directions, installing two new four-way traffic signals and adding additional turn lanes.

Dwight Bassett, economic development officer for the town, said Chapel Hill is being asked to consider a loan of up to $1 million for the improvements.

“The developer would sign an agreement to make annual payments on the loan,” he said in an email.

The town will consider the loan because it would improve its historically weak commercial tax base, Bassett said.

Residents have criticized the project because it might bring congestion. But Bassett said if the town were to participate in the road improvements it could possibly create other opportunities for development on nearby roads.

The previous developer was unable to secure letters of interest from prospective retailers.

But Northwood Ravin has a different strategy.

“The current developer has lowered the amount of square footage dedicated to retail based on those previous experiences,” Bassett said.

The Obey Creek development, another massive mixed-use project trying to make its way to Chapel Hill, is in the process of obtaining a development agreement.

Ben Perry, one of the developers for Obey Creek and a project manager at East West Partners, said he thinks the two projects could coexist.

“There may be some overlap competition, but they are far away as you can possibly get in Chapel Hill,” Perry said.

With the council’s comments in mind, Golden said he’s moving full steam ahead with the project, hoping he’ll garner support for the road improvements along the way.

“If we don’t move forward now, it’s likely the entire project will fall apart,” Golden said in a letter to Town Manager Roger Stancil. “We believe strongly in the Edge, and our intention is to move forward with the (special use permit) process.”

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