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The Daily Tar Heel

Town council holds back on Grove Park apartments

The owners of Grove Park, an apartment complex on Hillsborough Street, are proposing the construction of 235 apartment units, six of which would be leased to the town as affordable housing at $1 per month per unit for the next 20 years.

The town could then rent the units to lower-income residents more affordably, creating less expensive housing options in downtown Chapel Hill. The revenue the town would make on the units could then be used to pay for other municipal projects.

The new application is different from a June proposal in which Grove Park owners offered 50 of the additional 235 units to be leased to the town for affordable housing purposes. The changes in the proposal caused some concerns within the Chapel Hill Town Council, which must grant approval before the complex can be expanded.

“The council has articulated a number of questions about the best way to meet affordable housing goals with this project,” council member Lee Storrow said.

The construction of an additional 235 units would require a modification to Grove Park’s special-use permit, which was granted in 2009. The proposal to modify the permit has also raised some issues about the availability of parking and transportation near the complex.

The owners of Grove Park would like a decision as soon as possible so they can begin constructing the additional units, said Sarah Viñas, the Chapel Hill housing and community planner.

However, Viñas said a lot of factors play into the decision, so it could take some time before the council decides whether to approve the proposal.

Supporters of the proposal stress that the plan would provide affordable housing in Chapel Hill, where housing costs are high and the population is growing.

“There is absolutely a shortage of affordable housing in Chapel Hill,” said Holly Fraccaro, chairperson of the Chapel Hill Housing Advisory Board. She said she hopes the proposal would encourage other developers to offer affordable housing options.

“It’s not a ton of units, but their approach to answering the issue of affordable housing near campus is very unique,” she said.

Council members also think affordable housing opportunities are an important issue in Chapel Hill. However, members said they want housing experts and the Grove Park owners to answer their questions before they come to a conclusion.

“Increasing the amount of affordable housing is a top priority for the town,” Storrow said. “I’m looking forward to getting more information from our experts before we make a final decision.”


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