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Carolina reveals plans for research campus

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Carolina reveals plans for satellite campus

12-3-03

Posted 4 p.m.

CHAPEL HILL (AP) — The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill plans to build a satellite research campus that officials there hope will rival Research Triangle Park as a research and business center.

School officials revealed plans Tuesday for Carolina North, a mix of homes, businesses and labs that they hope to start construction on in 2005.

The plan calls for 8.35 million square feet of buildings on 240 acres more than a mile north of the main campus.

Officials say the project would be built in seven phases over 50 years, starting with the first phase, which would take five to seven years.

University officials say there could be as many as 18,000 employees and 1,800 homes at Carolina North when it's completed.

"We're not looking for this to be a real estate development," said Tony Waldrop, the school vice chancellor for research and development. Businesses that want to locate in Carolina North must have a connection to the university.

The project faces several hurdles. The Horace Williams Airport would have to close; state legislators have dictated that it stay open at least until Jan. 1, 2005.

The plan presented must clear another university committee and the UNC-CH Board of Trustees. The project would then be subject to approval by officials in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

There are also questions about where the money will come from for construction.

University officials presenting the plan to advisory committees also faced concerns about traffic and the environment.

The Horace Williams property, the state-owned parcel where Carolina North is proposed, is a wooded 963-acre tract. Although the plans call for developing less than a third of the property south of Municipal Drive, university officials have been reluctant to put most of the undisturbed land into a legal conservation agreement.

Several advisory board members urged officials to agree to the measure.

"If you don't put a significant portion of it off limits forever, it will be developed," said Allen Spalt, a former Carrboro alderman.

But Waldrop said, "We don't know 50 to 70 years from now what the needs of our university will be."

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This project will be similar to the Centennial Campus/North Shore development in Raleigh. With all these people they predict to bring in that development, it would make a lot more sense to build along Franklin Street and its nearby roads. I am not saying it is easy, but why not putting the money back to where Chapel Hill's activity needs to be? They can save a lot of trees and lots of headaches. Sure, I haven't seen the plans, but 240 acres of wooded lot will be destroyed for nothing. I wish they would reconsider their plans.

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This is also a similar project to the joint research "Millennium Campus" between NC A&T State and UNCG in Greensboro.

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