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New mixed-use development to bring jobs to Chapel Hill, fix parking problem

It looks as though Chapel Hill’s makeover is still not finished.

The town will be undergoing another renovation to create a mixed-use development that will allow for some some new business types to open. This new development will be on the east side of Millhouse Road, south of the Chapel Hill Transit Facility.

Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger is optimistic about this new innovation because it will bring light industrial or advanced manufacturing to the town. She said that this will be a place that encourages new activity and promotes jobs.

“Right now, most places in Chapel Hill are zoned residential and there is a long process to re-zone an area that keeps these kinds of innovation away from our community,” Hemminger said in an email. “By providing a zone/place to make this happen, it is a huge signal that we want this kind of commercial business here and that we are willing to work with developers to make it happen, by designating a zone and place for it.”

As part of the town’s commercial development strategy, this new innovation springs forth with the vision to make Chapel Hill a destination that earns its place on the map.

Chapel Hill Town Council member George Cianciolo, committee chairperson of economic sustainability, said he hopes to see Chapel Hill’s local businesses flourish.

“I'm hoping that this new zoning district will send a message that Chapel Hill is looking to encourage and support our local entrepreneurs, both young and old, who need space for research or to make things, that they can stay here to do so,” Cianciolo said.

The Millhouse Road location was chosen because it is not immediately adjacent to existing neighborhoods and is currently undeveloped.

Chapel Hill’s economic development officer, Dwight Bassett, also sees this development as a big opportunity for job creation and commercial tax base growth.

“We saw this as an opportunity to look at using some undeveloped property to target those uses,” Bassett said. “Those new use types might include research, light manufacturing, flex, maker and other producing-type jobs.”

Most cities, such as Chapel Hill's neighbors Durham and Raleigh, have previously supported this type of business development. The town committee sees this innovation as a chance to fix old problems, such as parking, as well as making Chapel Hill a world-class center for research and development.

“We have a great deal of creativity and innovation in Chapel Hill and we need to keep it here and expand our ability to help businesses succeed — a place they can develop and a place to grow,” Hemminger said.

@lindseykehres

city@dailytarheel.com

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