Trinitas breaks ground for Bicycle Apartments

May. 08, 2013 @ 09:22 PM

In about two weeks, construction of the controversial Bicycle Apartments will get underway on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
A groundbreaking was held last week for the student-oriented housing that will consist of four six-story apartments with 194 rental units containing 600 bedrooms.  
Trinitas Ventures, a Lafayette, Ind., developer that specializes in upscale student housing, will demolish 74 residential units in three two-story apartments that currently occupy the nine-acre site.
It will offer limited parking and an abundance of bicycle storage as a way to encourage residents to bike, walk or take a bus instead of using cars.
Construction is expected to be completed in August 2014.
The Bicycle Apartments have been more than three years in the making and faced stiff oppositions from some residents, particularly those in the Franklin-Rosemary Historic District who expressed concern about noise, traffic and crime as a result of a project they said is too tall and too dense for the location.
Supporters, however, touted revenue from additional property taxes the town will collect as a result of the redevelopment of the property, the economic benefit of having students near downtown and a need for more student-housing to relieve the pressure generated by an influx of students into neighborhoods such as the historically black Northside neighborhood.
Travis Vencel, vice president of development of Trinitas, told the crowd gathered at the site that the town’s approval process has made the Bicycle Apartments a better project.
“I am happy to say that I think this process, the Chapel Hill process, the three-year process, has really resulted in a better project than even Trinitas and our partners envisioned when we walked this site about three years ago thinking what we could do here,” Vencel said. “The process worked.”
He said the residents of the apartments will be vibrant contributors to the Chapel Hill Community.
“Our residents will bring more life to downtown,” Vencel said. “They’ll work downtown, they’ll play downtown. They won’t need a car. They’ll walk to the campus. They’ll walk to downtown. This provides another option for students to live close to the center of what they do at the university.”
Meg McGurk, executive director of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, said the Bicycle Apartments fit into the partnership’s vision for downtown.
She said students bring vitality to downtown.
“They are a vital and important part of our community,” McGurk said. “They are our residents, they’re our neighbors, they are our community members and that is why were very excited for the Bicycle Apartments to be a part of our downtown.”
Aaron Nelson, president and CEO of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, noted that Bicycle Apartments is a $20 million investment in the community.
“While it is residential, it behaves like commercial,” Nelson said. “It produces incredible taxes [revenue], but consumes very little services, on existing bus lines.”
He said Bicycle Apartments is a good example of what the community has said it wants to see in development.
“We said we want development dense and close to downtown,” Nelson said. “We want it on existing transit corridors. We want to make sure it provides housing for the people who live and work and take advantage of our downtown and university and we want it to be environmentally friendly.”