The Chapel Hill Town Council expressed concerns over how well a potential student apartment complex would fit within the Town’s Future Land Use Map and transit goals at Wednesday night’s meeting.
The council also adopted a resolution in support of preventing hate crimes and standing by the Asian American Pacific Islander community, in response to recent shootings in Atlanta.
Proposed apartment complex
The proposed apartment complex, The Flats, would bring approximately 200 new apartment units and a 450-space parking deck to southern Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
The developer, Progressive Capital Group, said the project will contribute to affordable housing in the area and follow the Town's Future Land Use Map (FLUM), which plans for the next 30 years of land use in Chapel Hill.
Progressive Capital Group, represented by Russ Greer, sought feedback from council members at Wednesday's meeting.
Town Council members expressed several concerns over how well the project would fit in Chapel Hill. Council member Hongbin Gu was vocal in her opposition to the site's large parking deck. She said students will already have the East Rosemary Street parking deck, which will be built by 2022, so the apartment complex shouldn't need as many parking spots.
Mayor Pam Hemminger agreed, pointing out the Town's bus system that provides easy access for students to and from their cars parked in other areas.
Gu said the Town Council wants a developer that would be willing to go along with its transit goals.
“We need someone to be the first to actually believe in this vision of this transit-oriented development,” Gu said.
Bruce Ballentine, founding principal of the project's planner/civil engineer, Ballentine Associates, said the apartment complex Lark Chapel Hill on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard was once applauded for limited parking availability, but the student residents eventually leased all of the available parking spaces in town.
“Chapel Hill is not downtown Chicago, it's not downtown Atlanta — it’s not urban, you don’t have the transit, you don’t have the trains, you don’t have everyone coming from the suburbs in, so I feel like the parking that we’re proposing is reasonable,” Greer said.
Council member Michael Parker brought up the building's architecture and questioned if the project would be another six-story building on Martin Luther King Boulevard, when the FLUM is clear in its preference for buildings no taller than four stories.
Parker said in exchange for potentially increased traffic and being unsightly, the project offers nothing to the neighborhood.
“It is basically the kind of building that we have spent five or so years trying to figure out how not to get in Blue Hill and now it’s popping up on MLK,” Parker said.
After the discussion was over, the council adopted a resolution submitting its comments to the applicant.
Also at the meeting, Hemminger acknowledged the increase in Asian American hate crimes and the March 16 shootings in Atlanta.
Council member Allen Buansi brought forth a resolution in support of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act that was introduced in both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly last Friday.
The resolution, which stated that the Chapel Hill Town Council will stand in solidarity with the Asian American Pacific Islander community and endorse the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, was approved by all members.
“We know how devastating and frightening this event has been for so many in our community, and realized that our thoughts, prayers and condolences are not enough,” Hemminger said.
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