NORTHWEST CHAPEL HILL DEVELOPMENT CONTINUED

The Town Council just got this email from a developer, David Ravin of Crosland, Inc. who would like to develop the Residences at Chapel Hill North.  Without commenting directly on its content, I can make a general statement that it is extremely unwise to rush to approve projects in a piece meal fashion when the health, safety, and welfare of Chapel Hillians are at risk with future dense development (whether in the concept plan phase or actual SUP phase).  This project is going to exist in the future with all of the rest—whether it takes 4 weeks or 4 years to approve.  We will all live with the result forever.   

“Mayor Foy and Members of the Town Council,
It is responsible planning for the Town of Chapel Hill to step back and look holistically at the picture of how it wants to grow in the northwestern section of Town.  We do however request the Council also please give some consideration to where each of the projects in the northwest submarket are in terms of the entitlement process. The SUP approval process in Chapel Hill is very methodical. Chapel Hill has more public hearings, staff submittals, and advisory review committees regarding SUP applications than most other municipalities. The existing process in Chapel Hill is not typically measured in months, but in years. The application fee to develop a project over 20,000 SF can be upwards of $75,000. And this fee does not include the costs for traffic studies and design consultants which regularly pushes the total cost of an application to the hundreds of thousands of dollars.Our proposal at Chapel Hill North to develop 99 apartments and 24 town homes in-lieu of 450,000 square feet of office has been under review for three years and has been before all the required town advisory boards several times. It has in turn been modified several times to address the various public and town recommendations made to date.  Projects such as the one we are proposing at Chapel Hill North are relatively small and the ability to keep these projects financially feasible over such a long time frame has become increasingly difficult. The construction cost increases felt over the past few years alone makes the original analysis that much harder to complete. While we certainly commend and even support the idea of not rushing to judgment, we also ask that SUP proposals that have had considerable study invested by both the applicant and the Town not be lumped in with initial concept “ideas”.  Please see the attached spreadsheet showing the various stages of approval the projects in the northwest submarket are in.  We believe that the Town process is a good one, but we would like to please request sensitivity to the timing of project review.  We are by no means asking for carte blanche approval, only the ability to complete the process.”

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