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Recently approved South Creek development to begin construction in late 2024


Chapel Hill Town Hall sits on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd on Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022. 

The South Creek development is currently in the process of zoning approval after being approved unanimously by Chapel Hill Town Council on June 7. The development is located across from Southern Village in Chapel Hill.

Construction will begin in late 2024 and South Creek will have its first residents in 2025, according to the website of the developer, Beechwood Carolinas. About 80 of the 123 acres of total community space will be preserved green space.

South Creek is one of the first developments in Chapel Hill to be evaluated under the Town’s new Complete Community Strategy, Jon Mitchell, a member of the Chapel Hill Planning Commission said.

The development is planned to be closely connected to Southern Village, and residents of both communities are expected to use commercial spaces in both areas. South Creek will be more dense than Southern Village, with multifamily housing instead of single-family homes.

The new development is projected to have 815 housing units, including 120 rental apartments, 89 townhouses and 606 condos. More than 100 of the units will be designated as affordable housing.  

"This development is really a model of what I'd like to see, where we can build some more dense development, but we also couple it with increases of our parks and our green spaces that are significant," Chapel Hill Town Council member and mayoral candidate Adam Searing said.

John Christian, a Southern Village resident, said he thinks the biggest problem with the development plan is the pedestrian crossings over U.S. 15-501 that will connect the South Creek and Southern Village communities. Though the road has a 35 mph speed limit, he said driver speeds often reach 50 mph.

Currently, there are two pedestrian street crossings planned — one at Sumac Road and one at Market Street. The intersection is slated to have signaled crosswalks in every direction, while the crossing at Sumac Road will have a pedestrian island.

Christian said he expects the Market Street crossing to be busier than Sumac Road because it houses the commercial area of Southern Village. He said he thinks the pedestrian island crossing should be moved to Market Street or used in both locations.

“They're planning a much more developed, careful pedestrian crossing that includes a pedestrian island, especially that would assist handicapped people that couldn't make it all the way across 15-501 in one cycle, and want to find refuge until the lights change again,” he said. “And it's in the wrong place.”

The Chapel Hill Planning Commission also noted the crossings as a concern in their review of the development plan in April, before the development was approved in June. The commission recommended building a pedestrian crossing over the road or a tunnel underneath the road to connect the two communities instead.

However, the developer said those two options could be very expensive and raise the prices of the housing units in South Creek, making them less affordable.

Mitchell said a lack of appealing crossing options may prevent people from wanting to walk or bike instead of driving.

He said that, in the future, the Town should plan to make bridge or tunnel crossings beforehand instead of thinking about them last minute to make the town more walkable as a whole.

“In a town that has circulator roads that are fairly high capacity, that divide different areas where you need people crossing not in their cars, there's no other way to do it than to provide these off-grade crossings,” he said. 

@DTHCityState |

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