2008: the year of Carolina North?

The concept plan for UNC's Innovation Center, a.k.a. Carolina North Stage One, will be presented to the Chapel Hill Town Council in a few weeks. I still think they're jumping the gun by planning this without the big picture vision in place.

On Jan. 13 -- the day after the town concludes its annual planning retreat -- town and university leaders will meet to share information on Carolina North. Evans said it will be the first time some members of the Town Council hear ideas about the development directly from the university.

So far, no part of the approximately 250 acres on the Horace Williams Tract that university officials have tentatively outlined for development has come to the Chapel Hill Town Council for review. That will change on Jan. 23 when the council is scheduled to receive a concept plan for the Innovation Center, a business incubator touted as the first building on the new campus.

"I don't know whether it sets a tone or not," said Chapel Hill Town Councilman Jim Ward. "But 2008 in my mind is going to be the year I'm anticipating some piece or some form of Carolina North will become more real than it is today."

The concept plan review will only deal with such elements as the location and appearance of the building, Evans said. Later stages of the review process will address specific design issues.

University officials have requested an expedited review of its Special Use Permit application for the Innovation Center. Even if the facility is fast-tracked through the formal application phases, UNC won't turn over any dirt this year.


Also on the horizon are the completion of two foundational studies that will guide further planning for Carolina North and the town as a whole. A comprehensive transit study jointly funded by Chapel Hill, Carrboro and UNC is expected to wrap up by the end of February.

Like Carolina North -- which is being envisioned in 15-year and 50-year phases -- the transit study is taking a long view, Evans said. It makes "some assumptions" about Chapel Hill's transportation needs through 2035 and is intended to provide local leaders with flexibility in dealing with industry changes.

- heraldsun.com: Carolina North will face several milestones, 1/3/08


The concept plan review will only deal with such elements as the
location and appearance of the building

So would it be legit to comment either

Hmm, sure appears to be a long way from a transit stop.

Is it just me, or does that parking lot appear to be way too big?


I'm not really sure how the appearance of a building can be discussed in advance of knowing how said building fits into the context of its surroundings. If the Innovation Center is going to define the look of the nearby area, then either there's more plan for that nearby area than I know about, or it's risking sticking out like a sore thumb when future stages come to pass. Looking at the hideous new FedEx building, or more "historical" examples like Hamilton Hall on campus, I'm not convinced UNC has a penchant for melding buildings with their locale.

As someone who lives in the Northern part of the County, I am confused by the overall plan for Carolina North. I realize there are those that are opposed to it, no matter what. I also realize that there are people in favor of it just because someone liberal is perceived to oppose it.

Sorry but it just isn’t that easy. If it were the Horace William Airport would already be shut down - they have been talking about that for the last 9 years.

When I moved to Chapel Hill, I moved here because of the University. Personally, I would prefer that UNC expand than another ridiculous subdivision - like the one I live in. I don’t want Chapel Hill to become Cary - I love the fact it is a little quirky.

So the key to me is that we start to develop with the University and take advantage of th fact that we are lucky to have a recession-proof industry (UNC) within our borders.

This doesn’t give them the right to not pay attention to the overall community, but without UNC, Chapel Hill does not exist. The challenge will always be how to balance the needs of both.

Like it or not, we are in this together and neither can exist without the success of the other.

"As someone who lives in the Northern part of the County, I am confused by the overall plan for Carolina North."

I am neutral towards the UNC, in general. For me, it's about footprint. If CN had the same footprint as the airport, it would be largely a non-issue to me (traffic impacts aside, for now). The last plan I saw had CN bigger than the existing airport which means wrecking more forest. That, IMHO, sucks. UNC may be better than another yucky subdivision, but neither is as good as maintaining a nice local environment.

Last I heard, UNC was TALKING about limiting CN to 300 acres, including the land currently under the airport. IF THEY ACTUAL DO THIS, it might be an acceptable compromise. But, they've been unwilling to put this down in a binding fashion, on paper.
My belief is that CH and Carrboro should say no deal until they do so.


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