The Chapel Hill Planning Commission met Tuesday night and passed a modified project plan for The Graduate, a residential building that would be next to the Franklin Hotel.
Jay Patel, project developer and general manager of The Franklin Hotel, said he is excited to be able to provide graduate students with a housing option.
“It’s meeting a need that has not been met,” Patel said. “Most of the plans have targeted undergraduates.”
Though the original plan included undergraduate housing options, the new plan gears its units toward graduate students, medical students and other professionals in the area.
“These are people who are living and working in the area,” Patel said. “For that type of clientele to have that rental option is really important.”
If the Chapel Hill Town Council passes the proposal this fall, Patel said he hopes to start building in early 2015.
“It’s all goals and expectations right now,” Patel said. “It all depends on the timing of the approving.”
Instead of the typical student setup of renting by the bedroom, John McAdams of the John R. McAdams Company — which is working with Patel on the project — said it would charge rent by the unit to cater to working residents.
McAdams said the proposed building would allocate 15 percent of its roughly 80 to 90 units to affordable housing.
The town’s inclusionary zone mandates projects proposing five or more units to provide 10 percent of the units for affordable housing if the complex is downtown.
“They are actually doing better,” said Town Council member Sally Greene.
But some committee members said the main problem is the building’s large size.
Commission member Amy Ryan said she doesn’t think the building fits in that location.
Committee member Brian Wittmayer said cutting the affordable housing allotment to the required 10 percent could put the building within the required dimensions, but committee member Travis Crayton disagreed.
“I think that having density is good, and I think asking them to remove those housing options isn’t right,” Crayton said. “Providing those affordable units and allowing more people to live downtown is good.”
But Ryan said the large size intrudes on the downtown historic district.
“If that cost creeps into the historic district, then I think that cost is too high,” Ryan said. “I don’t think it offers protection to the historic district at the current height.”
The Historic District Commission will review the proposal on Sept. 9 and the Town Council will hold a public hearing Sept. 15.