This article was written for our sponsor, the Town of Chapel Hill.
Chapel Hill is going through changes.
As economic development continues to ramp up in different corners of the city, each addition shares one common thread: embodying the “live-work-play” mantra that’s gained popularity in municipalities across the Triangle.
These developments aim to incorporate not only residential space — whether it be apartments, townhouses or single-family homes — but also office space and retail options.
Two Chapel Hill developments, in particular, are leading the charge in bringing these new multi-purpose communities to town: Carraway Village and Glen Lennox.
Located in northern Chapel Hill just off Interstate 40, the patch of land that now houses Carraway Village was the subject of much debate throughout the last few years. Originally called the Edge, the undeveloped tract was deemed by the town to be a near-perfect development opportunity, predominantly due to its proximity to the interstate. After issues caused by the traffic flow to Interstate 40 arose, however, most bids for the land were abandoned.
In collaborating with the city and anticipating improvements to I-40, real estate management company Northwood Ravin was able to carefully assess the land and finalize their plans for the Carraway Village project.
“The original project vision was for a mixed-use village that included residential, commercial, retail and offices, as well as hospitality and hotels. With the town’s help, we very intentionally came up with a flexible approval that would be able to hit the market where the needs were,” said Adam Golden, vice president of development at Northwood Ravin.
The full-service development, construction and property management firm started the first phase of Carraway Village in 2012, establishing the framework and infrastructure that would enable future phases. The largest objective of the initial phase was developing the residential project, which included 403 Class A apartments and 8,800 square feet of ground-floor retail space, all-in-one building.
As the firm moves into the second phase of development, they’ve also been making improvements to the area in general, enhancing Eubanks Road, upgrading the utility infrastructure, and completing grading for the entire project. By aggressively planning ahead, the future phases can now be completed on an accelerated timeline.
Phase two, which is currently underway, is aiming for completion early this summer and includes a standalone Chick-fil-A and a multi-tenant retail building that will house a Starbucks, as well as a medical office and several other businesses.
“We were incredibly pleased that we were able to attract retailers like Chick-fil-A and Starbucks, who are best-in-class operators for what they do,” Golden said. “They will help bring a lot of traffic into the site, which is, frankly, what is necessary to continue on with more commercial developments.”
“It certainly will be a catalyst for more energy, and I think more tax dollars being spent in town, just because there’ll be more opportunities,” Golden continued. “There’s been a resurgence on the north side of town over the last four to five years since we’ve started on the project. We love the north-side dynamic.”
While there are a number of brand new developments capitalizing on unused land, there are also several working to improve upon the historic roots of previous projects. A few miles away from Carraway Village at the intersection of Raleigh Road and Fordham Boulevard, the Glen Lennox development is infusing some modernity into the decades-old community.
Glen Lennox originally started as an apartment complex in the 1950s, opening up shopping centers and more residential space as the decades passed. In 1985, Grubb Properties purchased the development, but it wasn’t until 2008 that talks of redevelopment began. After years of discussions between Grubb Properties, the Town of Chapel Hill and the residents of the community, a 20-Year development agreement was reached.
“The vision statement we have for Glen Lennox is character, culture and community — that’s incredibly important to us, and to the residents, as well,” said Joe Dye, commercial executive vice president at Grubb Properties. “What we’re trying to do is honor the past with cues to mid-century modern design, but to be thoughtful about that design in today’s age.”
Notable planned improvements include the development of the Gwendolyn — the first office building in the complex — which is named after the first black woman to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Tenants of the space will likely include several capital businesses, as well as startups and other private businesses.
Another task on the modernization front? Adjusting transportation infrastructure to make the community more accessible and navigable.
“Obviously, we’re a car-dominated society today. The Town of Chapel Hill is very forward-thinking in having a free bus system, which does come through Glen Lennox,” Dye said. “But then a company called Copenhagenize is helping us be thoughtful about the redevelopment of the property to include bike lanes and bike infrastructure, so it’s easy to get around via bicycle — and that includes pedestrian infrastructure, too.”
While Glen Lennox will be a place for many Chapel Hill residents to call home, Grubb Properties hopes that the new additions will allow businesses to thrive and grow, strengthening Chapel Hill’s reputation as a hub for entrepreneurship and innovation.
“As businesses grow, they sometimes have a hard time finding space in Chapel Hill,” Dye mentioned. “We’ve used this as a great opportunity to grow Glen Lennox and maintain that sense of community, but also to allow for businesses to stay in Chapel Hill and not say, ‘Well I have to go to Durham now, or I’m going to move to Raleigh.'”
In addition to Glen Lennox, Grubb Properties has several other projects in the pipeline for Chapel Hill. Recently, they’ve acquired a three-story building on Franklin Street and a seven-story building on Rosemary Street.
Northwood Ravin also has a project in the works in downtown Durham, and recently completed Carolina Square in tandem with Cousins Properties.
“It’s a unique position — Chapel Hill as a community has great leadership and they’re saying, ‘Hey, we’re open for business.’ How do we create that culture that will help Chapel Hill thrive?” Dye said.
For many development companies, these mixed-use properties are the key to cultivating this live-work-play lifestyle and further solidifying Chapel Hill’s reputation as a business-friendly and resident-oriented city.
This article was written for our sponsor, the Town of Chapel Hill.