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Thursday June 30th

Amid affordability concerns, Carrboro's 180 West Apartments' new owner plans renovations

Audubon, an Atlanta-based real estate firm, announced that it acquired the 180 West Apartment Homes in Carrboro. Photo courtesy of Audubon.
Buy Photos In an email on Wednesday, March 18 Executive Director of Off-campus Student Life Aaron Bachenheimer said, for public health reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic, students living in off-campus housing are strongly encouraged to leave Chapel Hill for their permanent home addresses.

Audubon, an Atlanta-based real estate investment and management firm, announced that it acquired the 180 West Apartment Homes in Carrboro last week.

The release indicated Audubon’s intent to fully renovate the 250 units, and plan to “fully reimagine the property.” This includes the renaming of the apartment complex from 180 West Apartment Homes to Trinity at the Hill.

The plans for renovations, according to the release, include replacing old windows and changing sliding glass doors to French doors, upgrading to granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, remodeling bathrooms and installing new sets of washers and dryers. The clubhouse building will be renovated to include a new mailroom, lounge and fitness center.

This acquisition exemplifies “Audubon’s continued focus on acquiring workforce housing and transforming older properties into communities with outstanding value," the release said.

Rebecca Buzzard, project manager for the Town of Carrboro, said in an email that the Town has fielded several complaints from 180 West residents, and a building inspector has a list of items for the property owner to address.

She said the Town has been in contact with the new owners and they look forward to resolving those issues. Audubon did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Tar Heel.

In both Chapel Hill and Carrboro, a large point of discussion recently has been affordable housing. Buzzard said the coming improvements to the complex are much needed, but also that rent may go up.

“Sometimes acquisitions like this result in increased rental rates and that impacts the affordability of living in Carrboro,” she said.

Robert Dowling, co-chairperson of the Orange County Affordable Housing Coalition and executive director of the nonprofit Community Home Trust, expressed his concern over rent increases.

“Affordable housing is becoming more of a challenge in Chapel Hill and Carrboro because everything that’s being built that’s new, and there’s a lot of construction going on around here, is fairly expensive, so it’s not adding to the affordable housing stock,” he said.

Dowling said many factors contribute to the lack of affordable housing, including the increasing population of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area and a large amount of UNC students living off-campus.

“Rents are going up. No matter what they are now, and I have no idea what they are now — they might be relatively affordable — but they’re going up,” he said about the 180 West acquisition.

He said he’s seen other examples of housing being bought in the area, such as the Park Apartments on Ephesus Road.

Dowling also said Chapel Hill and Carrboro have affordable housing, but any renovations or new buildings will bring rent increases unless they are done by nonprofits.

“There are some apartments in Chapel Hill and Carrboro that are affordable. Whether they have vacancies or not, I don’t know,” he said. “We know what’s happening here. We know what the impacts are going to be, and as always, low-wage people get displaced and have even more of a struggle finding an affordable place to live.”

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