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orulz

UNC-CH Carolina North Campus

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So, after the current round of construction at UNC-Chapel Hill, they'll be just about out of space. Problem is, the university wants to keep growing. Capitalizing on the opportunity presented by the closing of Horace-Williams airport north of Chapel Hill in the not-too-distant future, UNC has envisioned using 260 acres of the 950 acre property to construct a research/academic campus dubbed "Carolina North."

Not wanting this campus to turn into another soulless RTP or Centenial Campus, the university decided that it should be built as a mixed use environment in order to succeed. They hired an architect, Ayers/Saint/Gross, who helped them draft a vision for the campus, found in this presentation, delivered on May 26, 2005. The master plan, specifically, is found on this slide.

However, a grassroots organization called The Village Project has called BS on that plan - saying that while it has many good ideas, it amounts to little more than a suburban development dressed up in "new urban" clothes. Key among their grievances are the plan to build 17,000 (!!!!) parking spaces but only 1,800 residential units, few to none of which would be affordable to students.

The Village Project decided to make their own plan, with a number of changes and some new innovations. The Village Project's plan calls for slashing the number of parking spaces to 5,800, and instead building 8,000 residential units, many of which will be sub-500 square foot studio units in mid-rise buildings. The site also has a rail line bisecting it; the line goes directly to the UNC power plant just west of main campus. The Ayers/Saint/Gross plan ignores this rail line and steps gingerly around it; the Village Project calls for leveraging it it as the main artery for transportation between Carolina North, downtown Carrboro, downtown Chapel Hill, and UNC's main campus.

From this article in the Herald-Sun, the reaction of UNC's vice chancellor, Tony Waldrop, could be classified anywhere from lukewarm to condescending, including such choice quotations as "Would you be willing to live in a 400-square-foot housing unit?" My answer to Mr. Waldrop is, "Yes, Yes I would! And so would thousands of other young people and students, many of whom are currently sharing a 150 square foot room with a roommate." I don't know the specifics about the residential areas of the university's Carolina North plan, but if it involves 1,400 square foot $200,000+ condos like I suspect, they won't house a single student there at all - and they'll just be pushed further and further into the suburban apartment complexes oozing forth across the landscape. Is that the outcome that you want, Mr. Waldrop?

Anyway, what do you think about the two plans for Carolina North?

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Oops, I forgot to mention that they had a meeting today at Chapel Hill's town hall, in which they presented the specifics of their idea for Carolina North. I found out about the meeting too late to attend, but I'll try and see what I can find out and post more here later.

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Lets be honest, the problem with housing in Chapel Hill is not because of UNC, it because of the Town. I always laugh when I read how the Town is screaming they have no affordable housing and students are causing a problem as renters.

Well if Chapel Hill would not add so many fees on every new project that is built in the town limits, the developers would not have to raise the price to $700,000+ per condo or townhouse.

And UNC will produce renters. They are called students! And for the Town to say they are a problem is BITING THAT HAND THAT FEEDS YOU.

I hope UNC blows right by that Town and does what it needs to do.

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I like this plan. Looks pretty neat. Makes me think of NC State and how I hope they keep adding on to centennial campus. I hope they add some more residential and man they really need some retail there. Theres nothing there but campus, some office space, and i think one residential thing they are working on. Also find some way to have centennial connect through dorthea dix to downtown.

But anyhow, so for this carolina north did i read this correct when it said its a 50 year development??? Wow its never going to be finished.

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I like this plan. Looks pretty neat.  Makes me think of NC State and how  I hope they keep adding on to centennial campus. I hope they add some more residential and man they really need some retail there.  Theres nothing there but campus, some office space, and i think one residential thing they are working on.  Also find some way to have centennial connect through dorthea dix to downtown. 

But anyhow, so for this carolina north did i read this correct when it said its a 50 year development???  Wow its never going to be finished.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Like you said, there's one residential development currently going up on centennial. It consists of fairly large, rather expensive condos; they're not looking for the average student as tenants. I think their professed targets are faculty/staff who want to be able to walk to work, and a handful of students whose families can swing the cost. For any other residential development, it's kind of a "wait and see" approach right now. And I'm pretty sure you can forget about having retail of any kind. *but* that's not necessarily a bad thing--Mission Valley shopping center is in Centennial's backyard, and they're moving ahead with some major upgrades, including a grocery store. So that should suffice for area retail, at least in my opinion.

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...I'm pretty sure you can forget about having retail of any kind.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Retail is still in the master plan. I'm not in the market for a condo at all, but I stopped by North Shore to check out their demo unit for the heck of it. The agent who was working there said that the University wants to have an outdoor "village" style shopping area just east of the condos, also facing Lake Raleigh.

So far, most of Centennial Campus is a corporate office park, and it has a decided emphasis on parking lots. But as the major academic sections come on line and the entire college of engineering moves over there, I'm hoping that they'll pursue student residences as well. You'll never see something of the scale that Village Project proposed for Carolina North, but hopefully they'll do something significant and meaningful. Already there's a large amount of unfilled demand for on-campus housing, and as the university grows, that demand will do nothing but increase. I hope the university rises to meet the demand rather than continuing to fight the ideological battle that "a university should not be in the business of housing people."

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lol it will be completed by the year 2056, if work starts next yr.....I'll be 75 yrs old by then....how depressing....

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The year 2056 ill probably be dead. Thats a long time. Why soo long. :cry:

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i must say that when i read the description of the goals of the village project, i was biased to love it.... but looking at their version of the master plan, i can only say it reminded me of a soviet housing project. it looks great from the sky, but on the ground, it is just not quite right.

i hadn't seen the asg plans since the 2000 version, so i actually kind of liked the newer version of their plans.

It would be great, though, if they can accept the village project's goals/feedback and revise the plans even further. i'm sure with some revisions and enhancements both the village project's plan and asg's plan good be greatly improved.

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What are your opinions of the proposed "Carolina North" project associated with UNC-CH? If developed appropriately I think it will be a huge asset for the State and UNC-CH in particular. For those of you not familiar I've included a link to its website at Carolina. I would enjoy your thoughts.

Carolina North

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Nothing nore than a BAD case of Centennial Campus envy. :P

Actually, I think it's a good idea for Chapel Hill to look seriously at dense, urban pattern development. For all its talk of being a progressive place, and for all the Planning-on-Steriods that goes on there, on balance it's as sprawled as the next place, and not very pedestrian friendly at all.

I like the plan and don't get why there's so much controversy over it. If one assumes that the rural buffer should be kept in place, where else is the Town going to focus growth?

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I believe a lot of the issues revolve around transportation and parking. I've heard rumors of a street car connecting the Carolina North Campus and the main campus. I think that would be great! However, Carolina and the Town of Chapel Hill don't always see eye-to-eye.

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I think it is generally a good idea, but there are a lot of disagreements between the town and the university. I think there are two main problems for the town. One is the increase in traffic. The town wants better public transportation options and fewer parking spaces. Second is the impact it will have on surrounding neighborhoods.

I think these problems are reasonable, but it should also be kept in perspective that Carolina North is replacing an AIRPORT! Not the friendliest neighbor anyway.

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The town is just trying to flex its muscles on this one. I do agree that a well-defined transit plan needs to be in place before development begins. I will get built but I see it taking a while-I don't think construction would start for another 3-5 years.

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I think it is a horrible idea. Decentralizing everything on campus leads to inefficiencies. Just like at Centennial Campus, it wouldn't take off until a whole dept moved out there. Then you'd have to deal with transportation issues which will always be a commuter bus, given the neighborhoods that separate the main campus from this property.

What UNC needs to do is develop the HW airport into a high density, mixed use community and offer a swap deal with the land owners south of campus (Purefoy and Mason Farm Rd. areas). Focus on expanding the campus down to 54 bypass and Columbia to KEEP THE CAMPUS UNIFIED.

map of the area south of campus

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dmccall...I agree with you that it would be nice to keep the campus unified. However, I don't see a land swap ever really being considered by either Carolina or the Town. As much as I like your idea it may be too complicated. Just my opinion.

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What UNC needs to do is develop the HW airport into a high density, mixed use community and offer a swap deal with the land owners south of campus (Purefoy and Mason Farm Rd. areas). Focus on expanding the campus down to 54 bypass and Columbia to KEEP THE CAMPUS UNIFIED.

map of the area south of campus

I would guess the cost of aquiring the land south of campus would be expensive. Of course, the university continues to beotch about funds, then touts its >$1B endowment. Keeping the University together is very important, unless, as you said, one of the departments (or the entire freshman class, for example) is moved to a differnt area.

If it weren't for the University, Chapel Hill would be Wake Forest. A nice town, but thats it.

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I live off Purefoy and can tell you that the University has already started moving into the neighborhood. All the houses along Mason Farm Rd. have been purchased/or in the process of being purchased by the University.

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I live off Purefoy and can tell you that the University has already started moving into the neighborhood. All the houses along Mason Farm Rd. have been purchased/or in the process of being purchased by the University.

it's true; that was happening when I lived at student family housing over there.

The lands to the south of campus will be ultimately developed by the university, and will be IN ADDITION TO, not instead of, the development at Carolina North (which is a cheesy name, but that's a different matter).

I just don't get the impact on neighborhoods thing. People have to recognize that when you move into a neighborhood in a high-growth part of the world, change will occur; and it's not always a bad thing if the new development doesn't look just like your house (I'd argue it's a bad thing for it to look just like everything that's already there given the low-density sprawl patterns in that area).

I totally agree that transportation will be an issue when you start to de-centralize the campus, but perhaps one effect of more university development on the north side of town is that the CH bus system-- which is top-notch if you're going FROM someplace TO central campus-- could be re-oriented to serve more of the community, rather than just as a feeder to UNC. It seems to work with the Friday Center way the hell off where it is, don't you think?

Having multiple nodes of dense activitiy (Southern Village, central campus, Meadowmont, Carolian North) seems like a good idea from a transit point of view.

The Town's reluctance to make roadway improvements are commendable from a theoretical point of view, but i don't know that it is really an effective transpotation plan in the absence of buses that go where people need to go, when they need to get there.

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I actually like the idea of it being separate from the main campus. A lot of graduate students I know that work at off campus labs say they like being away from the whole undergrad scene and I kind of agree. I would imagine many in the corporate world would agree (the emphasis of Carolina North is its corporate focus).

I don't know about the faux retro architecture though-it seems to be getting a bit stale. I wish they would do something similar to Janelia Farm in NoVa.

Janelia Farm

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Janelia Farm looks very interesting. I like the modern look, its something that would make Carolina North unique and seperate itself slightly from the main campus. I think we have to keep in mind that Carolina North has a very different mission than the main campus. However, this doesn't mean that it can't be integrated/linked to the main campus. Lots of good ideas on this thread!

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This is getting GOOD!

The UNC-CH trustees voted Thursday to set an Oct. 1, 2007, deadline to file applications to develop the Carolina North research campus.

The vote came a day after trustees complained that the project is moving too slowly. In particular, they expressed frustration with the work of the Carolina North Leadership Advisory Committee, a group of university and community leaders charged by Chancellor James Moeser with outlining guiding principles for the project.

...

Trustees said that pushing to get the campus built is part of their obligation to the people of North Carolina. Perry called the project "the single most important thing over the next 50 years for the state of North Carolina." :huh:

Foy said the Town Council has obligations, too. The town's concerns about the project focus largely on the increased traffic it would generate, the fiscal impact of providing town services to the site and the impact of the project on the environment and established neighborhoods that border the property, Foy said.

"I'm tired of hearing the university has a statewide mission and the town has a narrow mission and that somehow any effort to protect this town is narrow-minded and selfish," Foy said.

"The fact is that Chapel Hill is a jewel that everyone in this state wants to protect, and we have an obligation to make sure it doesn't turn into a mess," he said. "I don't want to hear any of this one-upmanship about who has an obligation to who. To diminish our role in this is insulting."

Honestly, the university thinks it can just strong-arm the town into blindly accepting a planned 8M sf of new development. I think Chapel Hill has every right to look after it's own interests so that this project is a win-win for UNC and Chapel Hill. Good job mayor!

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This is getting GOOD!

Honestly, the university thinks it can just strong-arm the town into blindly accepting a planned 8M sf of new development. I think Chapel Hill has every right to look after it's own interests so that this project is a win-win for UNC and Chapel Hill. Good job mayor!

I agree. The town and university need to work together for their mutual interests. Stonewalling on either side is not good.

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