CitizenWill | Indy Week

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Re: “Franklin Street at a crossroads

Dusty, who are the residents you are referring to?

"Some residents I know are perfectly happy with this situation - they don't want visitors or economic health. Some have been know to say, I'll pay more taxes - just don't let any additional retail services come to town."

I've been fairly active in many of the development discussions within Chapel Hill for the last 14 years and I've never heard anyone say that they didn't want visitors or economic progress. Same about not adding new retail or retail categories.

There has been plenty of discussion on what kinds of retail, what is the economic return (especially given required taxpayer funded improvements) and what is kinds of retail are sustainable over the long term.

Personally, I like to see retail growth that doesn't push major costs onto resident's shoulders, that is more likely than not to hire and buy locally and that has what it takes to survive more than a year.

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Posted by CitizenWill on 09/13/2013 at 2:23 PM

Re: “Greenbridge: 10 stories, $29 million in debt

There's another large local project, East54, which touted its "greeness" in order to ease approval.

The developers boast of their to LEEDs certification but haven't committed to providing yearly audits of their energy use to make sure they are hitting their target efficiencies. Not a big deal if they hadn't received significant modifications within the zone from the community because of their project's commitment to green.

The rhetoric is so out of sync with the actual follow through that it amazes folks how it continues to grease the skids for developers.

East54 ran an ad for several months on WCHL that said the best way to be green was to shop at their stores.

Posted by CitizenWill on 05/12/2011 at 12:51 PM

Re: “Greenbridge: 10 stories, $29 million in debt

The Town is doing a joint project with RAM Development at the former parking Lot #5 on the corner of Church and Franklin.

The path to approval for this West140 project was paved by Greenbridge. Greenbridge (and the Town's own West140) required a new zone boosting density by a factor of 4 and height limits by an additional 50% to be built. Council wanted this zone for their own West140 project but knew that it would be a hard sell based on the merits of the building. Greenbridge was so "green" and was supposedly such a bonus to Downtown they successfully hitched the zoning changes to it. OF course, the day after Greenbridge's approval, the developers dropped the signature "green" element - geothermal power - which they used to sell its greeness.

At West140 the public has donated land worth $10-35M (depending on whom you ask), will pay $7.35M for an underground parking lot and pay somewhere between $200-500,000 for site environmental remediation. This all for luxury condos for weekenders and student havens, small affordable housing units which will probably go to single professional couples or graduate students.

Right across the street the UNC Foundation has teamed with Cousins Development to redevelop University Square. There will be 3 major buildings, each of which will max out the density and height (140' or more with HVAC) allowed under the new TC-3 district. For perspective, each of these buildings will be 3 or more stories taller than the tallest Granville Tower. Granville Towers will be retained for now but will eventually be replaced by a more dense component.

Finally,as far as large projects, there is the proposed Shortbread project with 78 affordable rental units which will lie along Rosemary St. just south and west of Breadmans.

On a slightly smaller scale is the new Courtyard redevelopment which is just across the street from the Carolina Brewery (at the Courtyard).

So, lots of new development. Lots of new housing. Will the demand be there?

Posted by CitizenWill on 05/12/2011 at 11:18 AM

Re: “Greenbridge: A new chapter in a tense history

NSDT, I asked Joe how he selected folks to interview because while he did pick a number that have spoken out it did seem to be a narrow selection (at least from the perspective of someone that's talked with quite a few folks inside and outside the Northside community on this issue).

Not quite sure what you meant by "This plan [affordable housing component within the neighborhood] was bungled, not by the Town nor Greenbridge as a representative of either group can prove."

The plan was bungled by a majority of the then sitting Council members.

I've fought for more affordable square footage located within the projects Town has approved (and less in lieu monies) and understood the call not to segregate folks by income at Greenbridge but this was one case where negotiating for off-site housing was a far better deal than what we've ended up with.

Posted by CitizenWill on 06/18/2010 at 1:06 PM

Re: “Greenbridge: A new chapter in a tense history

Chip, the Northside neighborhood conservation district (NCD) is a planning overlay and not a zone. During the NCD development process Council shied away from better defining the hand-off between the commercial zone lining Rosemary St.'s north side and the rest of the residential area. The Council also decided to draw the NCD lines narrower than recommended by the community - which is why a whole string of affordable homes along Longview have been replaced by a series of McMansions (that appear to be mainly student havens).

Posted by CitizenWill on 06/17/2010 at 12:14 PM

Re: “Greenbridge: A new chapter in a tense history

Social justice and environmentalism shouldn't be disconnected yet Chapel Hill 's leadership has approved more and more projects where the two are at odds with one another. Greenbridge exemplifies the problem best because of the chasm it opened between the two.

As someone that's been following the project from day one, spoke before Council numerous times highlighting several downsides of both siting this project where it is and creating a new zone - TC3 - that has opened the door to much more mediocre dense/tall projects, I thought your story hit some of the points of conflict but ended up being slanted towards the Greenbridge myth.

A few things that were missed:

geo-thermal, the big enviro selling point raised at every public presentation - used to underline the developers enviro commitment - dropped right after approval

- the role Council played in insisting that affordable housing had to be on-site when the developer's proposal to increase affordable housing stock in the neighborhood would've yielded more square footage and was generally welcomed by the Northside community. Mark was instrumental in making this misstep.

- would've been nice to hear from other folks with concerns - including several Council members - it's easy to pick UNC-NOW or the NAACP as proxies but there was a wide spectrum of dissenting opinion especially as the project cranked through its final stages

- the whole DVD backstory was worse than the article indicated -bad feelings persist even today

- don't know if you tried to talk to Mr. Tucker, a partner in the enterprise - seems like his take on the project evolved over time - he also built Rosemary Village across the street - a project which began to stir concern within the neighborhood

- "UNC Now firmly denies any involvement" - ouch! That's a low-ball insinuation (also promulgated by OrangePolitic's owner). UNC-NOW was never formally accused of anything but the article pushes that unfounded accusation. Knowing your work Joe, I hope this was an editorial insertion of some kind.

I'm glad you wrote the story Joe. It's good that some of the back story got summarized effectively - especially in light of the flourishing use of paler green proposals to sell the same-old, same-old development stories. Along those lines, I hope that this opens up some more investigation (in the style of the old Indy) of how selling Greenbridge's "green-ness" (arguably the "greenest" structure in Town) has been co-opted by developers to greenwash their own less environmentally committed projects.

Finally, I hope the article helps folks understand that achieving environmental sustainability and social justice are parallel goals (something it seems like the local Sierra Club and VillageProject have forgotten) and that while there are always trade-offs, that we can learn from the mistakes made during the Greenbridge approval process and apply those lessons to new proposals.

Posted by CitizenWill on 06/17/2010 at 12:10 PM

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