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Big changes may be coming to University Place in Chapel Hill

People visit University Place shopping mall located on S. Estes Drive in Chapel Hill on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019.

Stakeholders have begun discussing plans for expansion at University Place mall.

According to Orange County property records, Florida-based Ram Realty Services bought the mall in December 2018 for $51.6 million from Madison Marquette. These owners have decided to create a new vision and vibe for this mall.

Chapel Hill Town Council members Nancy Oates and Jessica Anderson said the town hasn't made a final decision about the project yet.

“The project is only at the concept plan stage, so nothing has even been seen by council yet and certainly not approved,” Anderson said in an email.

In August, a proposed concept plan for the redevelopment was released, outlining some of the plans for the mall.  

The University Place Concept Plan considers some key issues for the development:

  • Bicycle and pedestrian connections
  • Redevelopment opportunities in the area
  • The Ephesus Road/Fordham Boulevard area planning and traffic analysis adopted in 2011
  • Potential expanded transit services

“We have not received any definite plans or information yet, it is just in the idea stages,” said Catherine Callemyn, planning technician and zoning inspector for the Town of Chapel Hill, in an email.

Current plans show part of the mall will be removed and replaced with a gathering area and new pedestrian access. One main goal is to bring the buildings closer to the surrounding streets to be more accommodating with the standards of the town.

The redevelopment plan includes upgrading existing structures along with adding new structures like parking areas, residential units and office space to the mall.

The plan discusses improvements such as larger landscape islands and increased landscaping. Construction won't involve demolition of surrounding properties or be detrimental to the floodplains located on the parcel. 

According to the concept plan, construction will happen in phases to prevent excess sediment runoff. The goal is to allow surrounding areas to remain stable.

Stormwater treatment may be incorporated in the redevelopment. 

Multi-use path improvements and sidewalks are set to go in along Willow Drive, South Estes Drive and Fordham Boulevard along with pedestrian pathways. The concept plan also outlines new driveway access points to Willow Drive and South Estes Drive, pending approval by the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the Town of Chapel Hill.

Ideas and plans have been made for the University Place mall, but no proposals have been made to the town council yet. Oates said the council will receive an official proposal in October.

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