The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday June 4th

Town Talk

Research says town commercial tax base still weak

For Chapel Hill, the only way to go might be up — at least that’s what one new study about the town’s downtown land says.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce sponsored a study by Asheville-based consulting company Urban3 which found the town wasn’t fully utilizing its valuable downtown space.

Joe Minicozzi, the principal of Urban3, stressed the value of planning for and building high density development during a presentation Wednesday.

Chapel Hill’s downtown space is valued at about $6 million per acre, and Minicozzi said 20 percent of that space is non-taxable.

Comparable communities’ downtown spaces are about 40 percent non-taxable, he said.

Charles Marohn, the founder of the city planning group Strong Towers, echoed the findings in the report and encouraged local governments to further explore high density development.

“If you go from one story to two stories, the increase in value from a specific lot is enormous,” Marohn said.

On average, residents pay about $50,000 in property taxes per acre in the county, Minicozzi said.

Greenbridge Condominiums, the mixed-use development on West Rosemary Street that houses 100 condominiums, pays almost $450,000 in property taxes per acre.


Minicozzi said town officials could learn from a failed attempt to locate a CVS Pharmacy at a building at 201 S. Greensboro St. in Carrboro.

Residents protested the CVS development. The building now sits vacant.

“That was a lost opportunity for a redevelopment project,” he said. “That’s a good case study to learn from, what happened there.”


“You’re leaking some of your sales out to other places, but it’s your property taxes that are your basis,” Minicozzi said on why it’s important to build more high-density housing options in Chapel Hill.

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