Orange County

Developer plans retail, apartments for central Chapel Hill corner

Developer Caliber Partners has proposed a 14.7-acre mix of retail stores, offices, restaurants and apartments for the wooded, northeastern corner of Estes Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
Developer Caliber Partners has proposed a 14.7-acre mix of retail stores, offices, restaurants and apartments for the wooded, northeastern corner of Estes Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard Contributed

A Charlotte developer wants to build stores, offices and apartments on 14.7 acres at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Estes Drive in Chapel Hill.

A formal application hasn’t been filed, but the Chapel Hill Town Council could comment on the concept plan June 19.

It proposes a one-story central anchor — possibly a “neighborhood scale” grocery — plus four one-story or two-story retail buildings along Estes Drive. It also includes a three- to four-story building with 215 apartments wrapped around a central courtyard and a three-story parking deck.

A two-story office and retail building and more structured parking along MLK Boulevard could be added later. The completed project is set at 327,380 square feet, slightly smaller than the 366,000-square-foot University Place mall.

Right-in, right-out driveways are planned at the northwest edge of the property and on Estes Drive, A third, full-access entrance is planned at the property’s eastern corner on Estes Drive. A greenway along a 50-foot landscaped buffer is shown at the northern edge of the property.

The proposal would require rezoning the property to mixed-use village.

Chapel Hill-based land planner Scott Murray, representing developer Caliber Partners, told the town’s Community Design Commission this week that the project is in line with the Central West small area plan that the council approved in 2013.

The Central West plan, now part of the town’s 2020 comprehensive growth plan, was the result of community conversations about how the area east of MLK Boulevard could be developed from just north of Estes Drive to south of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA.

“It provides for shops and some smaller-scale, neighborhood-type retail that would create destinations for the surrounding neighborhoods and also business opportunities,” Murray said.

There’s no plan for affordable housing yet, he said, but that’s expected.

Some CDC members said they expected more from the site — a “gateway” to the neighborhood — and encouraged the developer to create taller retail buildings and more prominent green and public spaces. They also reminded Murray that the community is not interested in more student housing.

Among other changes, they also noted the need for more pedestrian connections within the project and to surrounding development.

The project, if approved, would be the second for the Central West area. The council approved the Chapel Hill Retirement Center to the east in March, and also reviewed a concept plan for 112 apartments at The Sawmill, south of the YMCA, in October. An application for The Sawmill project has not been submitted yet.

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb

Project Stats

▪ Name: North Estes Mixed-Use Center

▪ Address: Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and North Estes Drive

▪ Applicant: Scott Murray Land Planning

▪ Land owner: Caliber Partners of Charlotte

▪ Size: 327,380 square feet on 14.7 acres

▪ Proposed use: 45,445 square feet of retail, 36,400 square feet of office and 215 apartments

▪ Current zoning: Residential; airport hazard overlay zone

▪ Proposed zoning: Mixed-use village

▪ Recreation space: gathering spaces, greenway, central residential courtyard

▪ Affordable housing: None yet

▪ Proposed parking: 670 spaces, including 2- to 3-story decks

  Comments