UNC loans land to Carrboro

It's certainly good news for current and future residents of northern Carrboro that UNC will be leasing land to the town for $1/year. The town will be able to build a fire station for the newly-annexed area for about $2.5 million.

But I have to wonder if Carrboro noticed what happened to Chapel Hill's similarly sweet deal. For decades, the town leased space for it's public works facilities from UNC, also for $1/year. A few years ago UNC decided it needed the land back (to build Carolina North) and Chapel Hill scrambled to find a location to build a new Town Operations Center which is costing the town millions of dollars (but which will rock - although it's not very conveniently located unless you live at the landfill).

Wouldn't it have made sense for Carrboro to build a station on land owned by the town, instead of borrowed? What if UNC decides it needs the land back to build a Carolina NorthWest in 2020?

And is Carrboro going to respond to this gesture the way UNC Assistant Vice Chancellor Bruce Runberg hopes they will:

Runberg added he thinks the agreement is a gesture of goodwill toward Carrboro, whose officials sometimes have found themselves at odds with UNC over development issues.

"This is one of those opportunities where there is a win-win situation," Runburg [sic.] said. "We feel there are benefits that will come back to the university."



According to the Herald-Sun and the DTH, it's a 99 year lease so I presume we're safe for awhile. It's also in UNC's best interest given the housing development they want to build in that area of Carrboro.

I think Ruby expresses a valid concern.
Does anyone know why UNC did not sell the 1.68 acres to Carrboro?
According to the GIS, the entire 1411 Homestead Rd. parcel is 12.01 acres right next to the CHHS/Smith playing fields. UNC is leasing 1.68 acres of the 12.01 acres.

When is the OWASA elevated water storage tank going up on the site off of Old 86?

Thanks Gerry, I fixed the link.

Mary, I don't know, and am speculating, but in many places the legal rigamarole a state must go through before it sells land to another entity is intense. Land owned by UNC is, I believe, essentially owned by the state. I think leasing the land to Carrborro for a nominal fee allows the University to make the land available for Carrborro's use without jumping through the legal hoops an actual sale would require.

Does anyone out there know how the laws are written in NC?


I've always been told that the reason that UNC does not sell
property is that the profits do not remain in Chapel Hill, but rather
are returned to the NC General Fund. For this reason and
because UNC doesn't pay property taxes, UNC has no economic
motivation to sell property. Sometimes however, UNC will trade
properties if they are motivated, e.g., the Cam Hill
house trade two years ago where the UNC motivation was
to build a parking lot on Cameron Avenue.

Speaking for the towns, it would be much better if UNC
would sell property, thereby returning it to the tax rolls,
especially for properties whose use has nothing to do with
the UNC mission, like homes or downtown business properties.

Perhaps this would be a good subject for town council members
to discuss with their legislative delegation.

This is an elegant arrangement, I think, meeting Carrboro's pressing need to locate a firehouse in that area and serving the University's proposed Carolina Commons development as well.

After the Town Operations Center lease of 25 years ago or so, the General Assembly actually tightened the review and oversight requirements for below market value leases and sales of state property to local governments, but the procedures for sale and lease are very similar.

One possible reason for lease rather than sale, however, is that sale might have required whoever had zoning jurisdiction to approve a subdivision plat, which might require various improvements to roads, sidewalks, etc, that a lease probably does NOT trigger. It also runs up the costs of the project and can take a substantial amount of time for regulatory approval. Just making a supposition on the subdivision regulation hypothesis.

I think that the 99 year lease makes it less likely that UNC will pull the rug out from under Carrboro.

Also, let's remember that UNC gave years of effectively free land usage to Chapel Hill -- a town that isn't always overtly friendly to the University's interests. Seems silly to complain about it now. I mean, they could have just made the town build their operations center years ago...

I guess the question is: Can UNC break the lease agreement? If so, what penalty does UNC incur for breaking the lease?

I'm curious, who sold the land that CHHS, Smith, and Seawell sit on to the Chapel Hill BOE? Was it UNC?

I don't remember a single incidence of UNC breaking a lease. Plus I can't imagine Steve Stewart, Mike Nelson, or Mike Brough signing a lease that had such an option, although there might be a mutual opt-out clause.

Deed to the school properties:

Date Recorded
Document Type DEED Remarks
Amount Consideration Amount
Type RB File/ID# 208/15
Book 208 Page 15

Seq# Firm Name

Seq# Firm Name

Legal Description
Desc1: 25.187 AC CH TP

the old high school property on W Franklin Street was sold to the developers of Granville Towers around the same time.

Thanks, Gerry. So much for UNC selling to CH BOE and not Carrboro...

I think UNC is acting in good faith. It's just me. I'd rather buy the land than lease for next to nothing.

BTW, I'm doing quite the great job of staying off of OP. It's quite pathetic. I suppose I shall have to ask Ruby to ban me...


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