The new developments there will include upscale apartments, a few small businesses, a parking deck, a large bike rack and a wider road to accommodate a bike lane. The apartments are expected to cost about $1,200 to $1,600 per month for a one-bedroom unit and $1,600 to $2,000 for a two-bedroom unit.
Lee Perry, development director for East West Partners, the apartments’ developer, said the units will be marketed toward graduate students, young professionals and empty nesters.
The new apartments are part of the Ephesus Fordham redevelopment project, Chapel Hill’s first form-based code project.
Form-based code projects are different from other development projects in the town because they streamline development by indicating how buildings should match their surroundings. Developments only need to be approved by the town manager rather than by the Chapel Hill Town Council.
“One of the strategies that the town is using to help us with our affordable housing goals is to create as many units as you can to create a gap, so there are more units available than there are people who want those units,” Councilwoman Donna Bell said. “If you have a small gap, then you don’t have as much competition and realtors can charge whatever they want to. If you create a larger gap, that creates competition.”
She said the council wants to go in the direction of creating a less volatile market in Chapel Hill.
“I’m also excited about increasing the number of people who are in that area, who are able to take advantage of those small businesses there,” Bell said.
Karen Neville, retail manager of the PTA Thrift Shop, located next to the new apartments, agreed with the apartments’ potential for positive impact.
“I’m excited because I think it will increase our business,” she said.
However, not everyone thinks the development will be good.
Sam Higgins, a UNC freshman and Hillsborough native, thinks the incoming development disproportionately affects certain residents.
“I think that the urbanization of downtown Chapel Hill is definitely affecting poorer residents and families and the small-town feel of Chapel Hill,” he said.
“All of the new condos and apartments ... are unaffordable for lower-class and middle-class folks, and their construction is raising property taxes in the surrounding areas, which is further burdening low-income citizens.”