Downtown plans discussed

If you live in Chapel Hill or Carrboro you may want to check out one of these forums today:

The latest plans for redevelopment of East Main Street will be presented to the Carrboro Board of Aldermen tonight at 7:30:

A parking deck could hold 500 vehicles, and a parking lot under the ArtsCenter could hold about 100 cars.

Performance Bicycle Shop would be torn down and replaced with a five-story building.

The ArtsCenter would be visible from all sides of the street and space above the ArtsCenter would be used by artists for galleries and living spaces.

That's the newest 3-D vision for the rebuilding of the 300 E. Main St. business strip, a project that could transform downtown Carrboro.

- Chapel Hill Herald, 1/11/05

In Chapel Hill there will be an open house-style information session for prospective developers of the "lots 2 & 5" redevopment initiative starting at 2 pm.:

The planned first phase would include building 128 condo units on lot 5, along with an underground parking structure, and about 30,000 square feet of retail space and 28,000 square feet of public space.

The Wallace deck project might include 109 condos, and 4,000 square feet of retail space along nearby Henderson Street.

In the second phase, the current plans include 68 condo units on lot 2, along with a transit transfer center with access on East Rosemary. The second phase also might include a parking deck on the other side of East Rosemary, on land now owned by RBC Centura bank, if the town and bank strike a deal.

The plans also include a pedestrian bridge from lot 2 to the envisioned parking deck.
- Chapel Hill Herald, 1/11/05


Oh, oh, the Town Manager is looking to hire a new consultant - a consultant dealing death it appears:

Bringing in such a hired gun would be a good idea, Horton argued, since, "This is one of those situations where you don't want to carry a knife to a gunfight."

It looks like Ram has secured the deal for the downtown development. More here from Rob Shapard of the HS.

I am underwhelmed by this project. Two great properties, and all we can think to do with them is build condos and shops? I guess this quote from the N&O indicates one reason for this plan.

"This project will serve to spark a generation of urban renewal in Chapel Hill," said council member Bill Strom, chairman of the council committee steering the project.

Sounds good, but is there any analysis supporting this statement? What are the odds of it succeeding? Maybe this is available, but I haven't seen it.

And shouldn't the town end up with a lot of cash as a result? I'm talking about the "obscene profits" that developers earn, discussed in another topic. This money will end up somewhere, either in the pocket of the town, RAM construction, or the condo buyer.

I'm hoping the Council reconsiders Town managements intent to close all the negotiations with RAM and provide some open forums where the Town's taxpayers (and putative beneficiaries of the plan) can get some intermediate information on the final plans. I understand the necessity for shielding some but not all proprietary information but we should demand, as many of us on OP have been demanding of UNC, the maximum in transparency.

"We're accustomed to the kinds of conversations we've been having, being on the public record," Horton said Friday. "That hasn't bothered me at all.

"But we're entering into a different kind of situation, where the development team is going to have to disclose some of their private information that is proprietary, and could cost them money and cause them harm [if disclosed]," he said. "The private developer is going to have to put information on the table that could affect their private interests."

I know the current Town management is comfortable with backroom discussions but these development projects could produce a potential budget burden that would weigh long and heavily on the Town's taxpayers if something should go awry.

I believe one of the most likely aspects of the negotiation that RAM will want to cloak under claims of not wanting to release competitive information is that of the financing of the project - yet if we end up using TIFs to finance this project it's critical to understanding what the full financial risk is before a fait accompli is delivered in late September.

Further, even if the Council decides to hide the proceedings under the rubric of discussing "economic development incentives" (does anyone recall the recent, sad use of that provision in "we'll preemptively sue you" Burlington?), we should demand a complete record of those discussions and a specific plan to release those records in a timely manner - timely enough to impact the final decision late October.

WillR, I agree with your assessment that the closed meeting will revolve around financing. And I also feel it is critical that citizens have access to a complete record of those discussions. This redevelopment project has the potential to be an economic disaster. By the way, “Hi Mom” film festival on Wallace deck had good crowd—will be losing a great community space.

Councilperson Greene has an interesting post today on RAMs "nostalgyuck" design for downtown.


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