A developer’s revised plan would add several hundred apartments and townhomes to a strip of land hugging the south side of Interstate 40 in northern Chapel Hill, where two plans were proposed last year.
Georgia-based Novare Group and Fickling & Co., the developers behind the Lullwater concept plan reviewed last year, are now asking to develop the entire 45-acre site, which stretches from Adair Drive, behind Harris Teeter and Chapel Hill North, to the Carol Woods community.
Community Design Commission and Stormwater Utility Management Advisory Board virtual hearings are scheduled for Aug. 23. The Town Council could review the Lullwater Park concept plan on Sept. 28. The virtual meeting begins at 7 p.m.
A concept plan is not an official application. It instead gives advisory boards and the council a chance to provide feedback on plans before they are submitted with an official application.
The latest version of Lullwater Park has 394 apartments, 47 townhouses and 48 carriage-style homes, along with some retail and 724 surface and covered parking spaces. Less than 20 acres of the site are buildable due to stream buffers and utility easements, the concept plan noted.
The developer is offering 36 apartments and carriage homes at a rent affordable to someone earning up to 60% of the area median income — an individual earning up to $36,300 a year or a couple earning up to $41,520.
The average rent could be $1,186 a month, serving firefighters, police, teachers and health care workers, the developer said. Federal Section 8 and local housing vouchers would be accepted.
Neighborhood hubs, recreation
Lullwater Park is designed with three distinctive areas, including “The Hub” at the western end, with a coffee shop, courtyard, open green space and nearby dog park. Surrounding buildings could be up to four stories tall with a pool, the plan showed.
At the eastern end, “The Green” would have three-story buildings, a second pool and an outdoor lounge with seating and a fire pit.
Roughly a third of the development would remain wooded, including an area of stream buffers and utility easements at the core of the site. A linear park connecting The Hub, The Green and a central “Nature Park” area would run along the southern boundary. The Nature Park area could have three-story apartments and townhouses.
The new proposal replaces two earlier concept plans that had 620 apartments and townhomes, along with several hundred parking spaces. Aspen Heights Partners had proposed a separate development for the eastern portion of the site, but that project is no longer part of the concept plan.
It could require a conditional rezoning, giving the council, public and developer time to raise concerns and negotiate conditions, such as stormwater controls, traffic improvements and affordable housing.
Traffic, stormwater, longtime plans
Traffic and pedestrian safety will be key issues, because Weaver Dairy Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard have multiple lanes of speeding traffic and difficult pedestrian crossings.
Lullwater Park would be within walking distance of two shopping centers, two bus routes, and a planned stop on the future North-South bus-rapid transit line.
Other issues could include stormwater, environmental effects, and how the last large, wooded tract in the town’s North Chapel Hill Area is developed.
A subdivision approved about 30 years ago for the site was never built, in part because of utility, highway and stormwater constraints, officials have said.
Interest in the 45-acre site was reignited in recent years after a developer proposed building apartments on 10 acres immediately to the south. The land includes the five-acre Lakeview Mobile Home Park on Weaver Dairy Road.
In 2018, the council worked with staff to draft a plan for the 45-acre tract that included up to 300 apartments, 174 townhouses, 20,000 square feet of retail and 60,000 square feet of offices. The council never adopted the plan or rezoned the land to allow those uses, so Lullwater Park would need conditional rezoning approval to advance.
The conditional rezoning process gives the council more opportunities to negotiate for stormwater controls, traffic improvements, affordable housing and other conditions.
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