Village Plaza Apartments Approved

The Town of Chapel Hill has approved Vilage Plaza Apartments, the first development proposed under the new form-based code implemented in the Ephesus-Fordham District.

Village Plaza Apartments will be constructed on the vacant site located between the Whole Foods shopping center and the ABC Store on South Elliot Rd. The development will bring 265 apartments, ground-floor retail space, a parking deck, greenway improvements, and roadway improvements. Rent for a 1-bedroom apartment will be approximately $1,150/month while a 2-bedroom apartment will rent for about $1,600/month.

Full information about the approval and the development is available on the Town's website here.


Travis  You have left out some important information.  The Code approved by the Council allows 90 foot buildings without energy efficiency and affordable housing standards and no amenties for Chapel Hill. The project will be mostly residential, so it won't help our tax base, the stated reason for upzoning the 200 acre zone.  The roads improvements outside the project will be paid for by the taxpayers, not the developer.  The greenway already exists and thru bad planning the building's back road encroaches on this now attractive greenway and it will need to be moved further down the hill toward Booker Creek. The big lost opportunity was not creating a project that would have faced the creek and made a Weaver Street like space for community members.

The Town Council approved the zone with 3 dissenting council members:  Matt Cz, Jim Ward, and Ed Harrison. Despite hundreds of letters and constructive advice from the public, no changes were made from the initial ideas presented by the Town’s Economic Development Director. As you point out this is the first project under the new code.  It would appear to be a bad deal for the town economically and environmentally. We can all stay tuned as the orange tape goes up.


As a note, the rents for these small apartments are significantly higher than I pay for my small house. I've asked some of the graduate students in my classes if they can afford those levels of rent and they just laugh before spitting out "no."

As I have previously mentioned on OP, when we talk about adding to the housing supply, what's most important is the fact that units are being added. Not everyone will be able to afford brand-new apartments at market rate (I know I can't), but the effect that these units have on rents across the community is what's important.

By adding to the housing supply, Village Plaza Apartments helps address some of the demand in the Chapel Hill rental market, meaning that other rentals across town won't see the kind of rent increases that have been common and felt by undergraduate, graduate, and other renters for years and years. That's great news for those of us who rent and don't want to be faced with a large rent increase when it's time to renew our leases each year.

Yes Travis, that is the idea you have promoted. It's a standard economic supply and demand theory. But look around you--it's not working in practice. The more high end units that are added, the higher the median income of the community goes. Doesn't matter whether it's single family housing or apartments--the theory is not working in practice here in southern Orange County.

As I've cited before, Terri, we are in fact seeing the theory of supply and demand in the housing market play out. When LUX Apartments and Shortbread Lofts opened, Warehouse Apartments reduced their rents by 21%.

Additionally, we've seen this to be the case in numerous other cities. For example, here is a study of the Seattle apartment rental market that demonstrates the relationship between supply and affordability. In New York, where Mayor Bill de Blasio has made housing affordability a priority, much has been written (both before and after his election) about how New York City must increase supply to address the major affordability crisis. The same is true for San Francisco, undeniably the poster child for what happens to affordability when a city constrains supply. (This article from SPUR, a San Francisco think tank, does a great job describing the data that captures why San Francisco's affordability problem is a supply-and-demand issue.)

And another great example of supply in action is Singapore, which is a geographically-constrained city-state that has managed to have near-universal affordable housing by aggressively increasing housing supply. (Obviously, Singapore is unique and not a model, but it is an example of how supply and demand in housing work.)


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