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EXCLUSIVE: Mostly wooded corner of Chapel Hill attracting more attention from housing developers

–March 31, 2022 | Tammy Grubb | News & Observer

A largely wooded residential area on Chapel Hill’s eastern edge is facing more pressure from developers looking to build dense neighborhoods of apartments and townhouses. At least four concept plans have been submitted to the town — three in the last two months — for 41 acres west of Interstate 40, from U.S. 15-501 to the south side of Old Chapel Hill Road. A concept plan is a rough draft of what a potential project could become. The town’s Community Design Commission and Town Council review concept plans and provide feedback, but do not vote on them.

All four projects will require the council to rezone land for more dense development. EB Capital Partners submitted the first plan in September for an “urban style” building with 90 apartments at 5500 Old Chapel Hill Road. The council reviewed that plan in October, offering several recommendations. Among them, members suggested moving the parking under the building, constructing condos instead, and making the housing more affordable for working families.

In March, EB Capital submitted a second, larger concept plan for a 9.7-acre tract across the street, at the corner of Old Chapel Hill and Pope roads. The Huse Street project could add 264 apartments, townhomes and cottages, with 415 parking spaces.


Map - Old Chapel Hill Rd Huse St

The concept plan reviews for Gateway have not yet been scheduled. Concerns about the projects may include the amount of affordable housing, traffic and parking planned, especially since the projects are within walking distance of Chapel Hill Transit and GoTriangle stops and a short drive from Wegman’s, UNC Health Care’s Eastowne campus and the New Hope Commons retail district. The town’s land-use plan envisions the area with high-density residential, office and commercial redevelopment, and at one time, the Durham-Orange light rail line was expected to serve that more dense development.

However, the light rail plan fell through in 2019, leaving Chapel Hill and Orange County back at the drawing board. A bus-rapid transit line with regional connections has been suggested as an alternative plan. Here are more details about the Huse Street concept plan:

Hust Street site plan