GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
By Fraser Sherman
The Chapel Hill Town Council is scheduled to vote on rezoning the 16 acres on East Lakeview Street selected as the site of the Gateway residential development on Wednesday, Nov. 15.
Chapel Hill Public Information Officer Alex Carrasquillo told The Local Reporter the developers had requested a change from R6, which allows higher density in residential housing, to R6 conditional zoning. The developers’ application paperwork says they want to modify R6 requirements for the Gateway property, including setbacks, building height, parking and landscaping.
“What happens after the council decides on a rezoning application is largely up to the applicant,” Carrasquillo said. “If the council approves the rezoning, the applicant will need to obtain a Final Plan Zoning Compliance Permit before any other construction permits.”
Gateway is a joint venture by Chapel Hill’s Bryan Properties and Raleigh’s NorthView Partners at the southwest corner of 15-501 and Interstate 40. As planned, it consists of 308 units in two four-story buildings and one three-story building. The developers say the 15-parcel site is vacant except for a few single-family homes.
The project includes 72 affordable housing units for seniors. Carrasquillo says the maximum household income to qualify for an affordable Gateway unit would be 80 percent of area median income (AMI), with the income across the 72 senior households averaging 60 percent of AMI or less.
The definition of affordable housing is that rent plus utilities costs no more than 30 percent of the resident’s income. Chapel Hill’s AMI as of 2023 is $116,200; “affordable” to someone making 80 percent of the AMI ($92,960) would be $27,888 a year or $2,324 a month. Sixty percent of the AMI is $69,720; housing would be affordable if it cost $20,916 a year or $1,743 a month.
The Gateway Concept Plan says 72 units is 26 more than what the town’s affordable housing ordinance recommends: “The developers look forward to working with the town to consider options as to how these additional units might be possibly applied towards other nearby, proposed projects.”
According to Chapel Hill’s code, conditional zoning modifies the regular zoning for specific plans, standards and conditions. The Gateway application paperwork says it needs the zoning changes to fit with the town government’s vision for developing that part of Chapel Hill.
The application paperwork lists the zoning modifications Bryan Properties and NorthView Partners have requested, including:
- Setbacks of 10 feet rather than 20
- A maximum building height of 55 feet at the street setback.
- Smaller than usual landscape buffers near a proposed greenway trail but extra canopy and understory trees.
- Partly meeting the R6 parking requirement with on-street parking instead of purely off-street parking. The documentation says this is “an important urban design element for the streetscape of the project and will be used by residents and guests.”
- Rather the normal limit on parking spaces – 10 in a continuous row – Gateway would include two runs of 12 parking spaces. The rows would have additional landscaping around them and include spaces for ADA and EV parking.
The proposal originally requested a parking reduction to .75 spaces per unit. Carrasquillo says the developers dropped the request because Chapel Hill’s Land Use Management Ordinance allows reduced parking for senior housing.
The developers’ paperwork says Gateway will include: extensive landscaping; bike parking; a bike workshop; and stormwater management ponds landscaped to give them a “biological and aesthetic edge.” Gateway will be placed along existing and proposed rights of way to establish a grid pattern for development. Carrasquillo says the proposed right of way is one the developers have suggested dedicating to the city as part of the rezoning.
The Local Reporter contacted the developers, but didn’t hear back by press time.
Fraser Sherman has worked for newspapers, including the Destin Log, the Pensacola News-Journal and the Raleigh Public Record. Born in England, he’d still live in Florida if he hadn’t met the perfect woman and moved to Durham to marry her. He’s the author of several film reference books and has published one novel and several short story collections.