The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Town set to meet 2023 housing increase quota with more than 2,500 units under construction

The new Edition on Rosemary apartment complex located at 332 West Rosemary Street in Chapel Hill, NC. Edition on Rosemary delayed move-in for students past the original Oct. 1, 2023 date.

There are 2,567 units currently under construction in Chapel Hill, and Town officials say development roll-out is on track to hit a 35 percent yearly housing increase quota, based on a 2021 projected housing needs report.

“We are on track, in the past few years, to hit those targets, exceed those targets and expand the housing supply in Chapel Hill,” Town of Chapel Hill Planning Manager Corey Liles said.

Liles said he thinks it will be important to continue strategic thinking and planning into later years as obvious places to build housing become scarce.

The report estimates that constructing approximately 485 new units per year will accommodate growth and keep the jobs-to-housing ratio from increasing. This quota designates around 440 new units for working-age and senior populations and 45 units for students living off-campus.

Jobs-to-housing ratios in urban planning generally reflect housing availability in an area that ideally matches its workforce needs in price, size and location. Affordable housing accommodates lower incomes within this workforce, compared to the area's median income.

Ashley Hernandez, an assistant professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at UNC, said developers have to constantly grapple with how low they can make affordable unit rates while also avoiding debt.

“That's the greatest impediment to the development of affordable housing, is being able to pay for it and keep the rents that you're going to charge as low as you possibly can,” she said. 

Of the 2,567 dwelling units under construction, 154 – or about six percent – are considered affordable units.

The Trinity Court development is an entirely affordable housing project in the construction phase. It has recently begun the zoning compliance, permitting and construction processes.

The North Estes Townhomes are in the final planning phase. More than a dozen of its 107 units are designated as affordable.

Lullwater Park and Aura South Elliott completed their concept plan phases, while The Reserve at Blue Hill is still in the concept plan phase. These projects have not yet been approved by the town council but, if approved, would add a net of 966 units in Chapel Hill.

The application review and concept plan process for redevelopment and conditional zoning projects involve town input and adherence to rules and regulations as outlined in the Town’s Land Use Management Ordinance. 

A LUMO diagnostic report from 2023, part of the Town’s ongoing LUMO rewrite process to update Town goals, described part of the development review process as “unnecessarily prolonging” and “financially burdensome” to applicants.

Part of the Town's LUMO has already been rewritten to expedite the review process for affordable housing projects with at least 25 percent of units available at affordable rates, and 10 percent of all units approved by the council last year were affordable units.

Town Senior Planner Katherine Shor said the extensive application and review processes that slow down housing projects are due to land use rules that were not updated as the Town approved long-term strategic plans.

“The land use rules were not comprehensively updated to reflect those goals that were set out in our future land use map, in our transit-oriented development plan and in our complete community strategy,” Shor said. 

She also said the LUMO rewrite will streamline development review for everyone. 

Hernandez said balancing demand and growth with adequate housing for people who already live in the area is the million-dollar question. 

“I think any kind of planning regulation can operate as a snag in the development process,” she said.

@DTHCityState |

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

Special Print Edition
The Daily Tar Heel Victory Paper for November 20, 2023

More in Chapel Hill

More in City & County

More in The OC Report

More in City & State