Residents and elected officials still have a lot of questions about the Lloyd Farm project, despite seven years of talks and numerous neighborhood meetings.
Charlotte-based Argus Development Group wants to build the $105.9 million residential, retail and office community on 40 acres at N.C. 54 and Old Fayetteville Road.
The former family farm, one of Carrboro’s last large undeveloped sites, is across the highway from Carrboro Plaza.
A previous plan was rejected in 2016, largely because of traffic and stormwater concerns. Those concerns remained for many who spoke both for and against the project at Tuesday’s public hearing, particularly after last week’s flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Florence.
Traffic problems also already exist, residents said, because of people cutting through and speeding along narrow neighborhood roads.
Several urged the town to take responsibility for both problems now, before Lloyd Farm is approved, including Carol Street resident Geoff Gisler.
Gisler asked the aldermen to consider a letter signed by 100 neighbors and residents asking them to deny the project’s rezoning. The board also should take another look at a 2016 study that showed traffic backups, delays and spillover onto other streets, he said.
“If you read the Davenport report, what it says is this is a real mess, and it’s not going to be solved easily,” Gisler said. “The town has to take responsibility for this traffic. We have to see plan in place before you agree to allow the development that’s going to generate the traffic to go forward.”
One way to deal with the increased traffic from Lloyd Farm is closing off Carol Street at the Old Fayetteville Road intersection, resident Meredith Bratcher said. A traffic study could show how that might affect other neighborhood streets, she said.
“It’s clear to me that those streets will bear the traffic that is going to come to make this a success, and if it’s going to be developed, everybody here wants it to be a success,” she said.
The Board of Aldermen will continue discussing those concerns and others on Oct. 23. The board also could decide that night whether to approve necessary changes to the town’s land-use plan and to the property’s zoning. Argus Development Group wants to change the current mix of residential and commercial zoning to a commercial zoning that would set out specific conditions.
The developer could submit a more detailed conditional permit application and face additional hearings if those changes are approved.
Ted Barnes, with Argus Development Group, said a number of changes already have been made to the project with neighbors’ input.
“We felt like we were going to have to move down a path to develop this property piecemeal and go after the retail piece to begin with” in 2016, he said. “We appreciate the interaction between then and now to get us back to a point where we could have a unified development that we think is better for both us and the town.”
Harris Teeter planned
The plan’s commercial portion — Shops of Lloyd Farm — is anchored by a 64,000-square-foot Harris Teeter and four smaller retail buildings located around a central parking lot, he said.
To the east, two three-story buildings could offer office and retail space, and an energy center could provide car-charging and fueling stations, bike repair and parking for shared vehicle services.
Over 570 parking spaces are proposed, and a large lawn and amphitheater could hold 300 people near the corner of N.C. 54 and Old Fayetteville Road. A thick buffer of evergreens and fencing is planned to block neighbors’ view of the development from Carol Street.
The aldermen would have to make several changes to the proposed B-4 conditional zoning to allow taller office buildings, outdoor displays and curbside pickup at the grocery store, apartments, and flexible bike parking and street design.
The plan’s residential portion — Lofts of Lloyd Farm — could include a senior-living community with roughly 220 apartments, duplexes and cottages offering dining, health and recreational amenities.
Instead of affordable housing, the developer has offered to pay the town up to $1 million and set aside four permanently affordable, for-sale cottages. The town also could get roughly 4.7 wooded acres along James Street.
Cheri Rosemond, with the Orange County Department on Aging, praised the plan for housing that could provide residents 55 and older with low-maintenance, energy-efficient housing and access to social activities, health care, transit and food. Lofts of Lloyd Farm meets two of the county’s five master aging plan goals, she said: A diverse housing stock and a way for adults to grow older in their homes.
“We have institutional care, assisted living and nursing homes,” Rosemond said. “A lot of people that live in those places might do well with some supportive housing, but we don’t have much in between, independent and long-term supportive housing.”
Heidi Perry expressed doubt about how affordable the apartments would be for older residents looking to downsize.
“It looks like a very expensive development to me — it has a dining hall, it has two swimming pools, it has lots of parking. All those things cause the cost to go up,” she said. “To me, those are nice amenities, but I would just want to have a place I can afford to live in that was close to things that I could shop at and get what I wanted.”
If Lloyd Farm is approved, construction could start in 2020, with the first buildings opening in 2021. The $1.15 million property could be worth about $64 million after it is developed, Orange County’s tax assessor has said.
That could bring the town more than $3.5 million in property taxes over 10 years, an economic analysis states. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools could get about $1.2 million in that time, and the county could get about $5 million. Lloyd Farm also could generate over $7 million In sale taxes in the first 10 years.
Staff writer Joe Johnson contributed to this report.