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New shopping center under development on US 15-501, despite controversy

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Located in the Chapel Hill region of Chatham County, a new shopping center is said to be opening this summer, pictured on Friday, Feb. 17, 2023.

A new shopping center along U.S. Highway 15-501, south of Chapel Hill, is in development and on track to open this summer.

The development, 501 Landing, is located across from the Chatham Downs shopping center and is being developed for retail, medical and office use by BOLD Development Group.

The development is about 10 minutes from downtown Chapel Hill, Pittsboro and UNC's campus. Residential neighborhoods, including Briar Chapel, Governors Village, Southern Village and Fearrington Village, are in close proximity.

The shell of the property is under construction, featuring two 7,200 square foot buildings with 12 suites, half of which have already been leased. Three spaces are allotted for Seeds of Wonder Spanish Immersion Daycare, two for Ignite Wellness Chiropractic Center and one for Mi’s Nail Spa.

The parcel was rezoned in 2021 to allow for commercial uses. The Chatham County Board of Commissioners cited an opportunity for economic growth that was detailed in the Chatham County Comprehensive Plan, Plan Chatham, which was adopted in November 2017.

Jason Sullivan, the planning director for Chatham County, said the comprehensive plan was adopted to target areas for commercial developments that would be favorable for both businesses and local residents. 

This parcel of land was located in an area considered a “community center node,” so business was encouraged there.

"There are other areas of the county where business-type developments are discouraged," Sullivan said. "This just happened to be in a location where they are encouraged."

The property was originally a designated R-1 residential zone, and an application was submitted in late 2019 to the Chatham County Planning Department to rezone the parcel. This rezoning was against the advice of the Chatham County Planning Board, and development was initially met with some controversy among residents.

In a planning board meeting in 2020, the board members determined in an 8-3 vote that rezoning the parcel was not consistent with the direction of the Comprehensive Plan, as the parcel was in close proximity to existing residential development.

In the same meeting, Stephen Gangemi, a chiropractor on the adjoining lot, raised concerns about already busy traffic on U.S. 15-501 that would be exacerbated by development on the small lot. He also mentioned that other unused commercial land had already been rezoned.

Paul Mele, a nearby resident, also questioned the need to develop all four corners of the area, as well as why the areas that had already been rezoned could not be used.

“We had already rezoned the Briar Chapel area, and the one across from Fearrington for commercial activities,” George Lucier, the chair of the Chatham County Planning Board, said. “Why not use those?”

Chris Ehrenfeld, the owner of BOLD Companies, said 501 Landing is located strategically along U.S. 15-501, which is frequented by commuters in and out of Chapel Hill and Pittsboro. He also said the concentration of businesses makes it more easily accessible, as there is another shopping center across the road.

“We’re excited to bring some fresh new commercial development, and, more importantly, new businesses,” he said. “We’re always super happy to work with small businesses and do what we can to help them grow and succeed.”

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

 

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