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Chapel Hill needs office space and affordable housing. This deal may help bring both:


Glen Lennox apartments and shopping center is located in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Grubb Properties and the Town of Chapel Hill have been working together on developing office spaces in Glen Lennox, a planned community in Chapel Hill. Following several years of collaboration, the two parties may have finally reached a breakthrough.

Grubb Properties has come forward with a request for an incentive of $2.2 million. The incentive would stretch over five years and would be based on how the company performs.

Aaron Nelson, president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, explained how the incentive would work.

“A grant is made when they meet certain performance standards. So if they never build anything, they never get a grant. So the money isn't paid in advance. It's paid after. The grant has a cap — $2.1 million — and the grant also will never exceed what they pay in taxes,” Nelson said.

In other words, the Town will grant back Grubb Properties five years worth of its taxes, but it won’t receive more than that $2.2 million mark the Town has set, according to the staff presentation at the March 20 Town Council meeting. 

Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger recently said Chapel Hill needs development and new office spaces. According to a presentation by representatives of Grubb Properties, the office market had bottomed out in 2010, causing a need for development of new offices.

Emily Ethridge, corporate communications manager at Grubb Properties, said Grubb has been working with the Town on the incentive for a number of years with the hope that both parties could reach a shared vision for the project. She also explained what the incentive means for the two parties.

“We call it a support agreement, which is basically us working with the Town on this development,” said Ethridge.

The property spans 70 acres and has been owned by Grubb Properties for 30 years. It also includes a shopping center and 440 existing apartment units. With the new grant, it plans to add a new apartment building, a clubhouse, more bike paths and greenway and also new office buildings, Ethridge said.

A certain number of apartments would be set aside for affordable housing. In an effort to alleviate the growing affordable housing pains in Chapel Hill, Grubb will work with Community Home Trust and Orange County Justice United to provide up to 10 such units. CHT will administer the program.  

Ethridge stressed how important it is that Grubb follows through with its construction commitments. If the company falls short of what it predicts it’ll build, it will receive less of the possible grant than desired.

“It’s completely tied to what we actually produce in terms of an actual office building in Chapel Hill,” she said.

Ethridge highlighted the communicative process Grubb Properties has engaged in with the Town and others in the community.

“This is all part of that and part of that working closely with the Town and the neighborhood to really bring something that people want and that the Town needs," she said. 


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