I hope you are having a wonderful summer! Now that the Town Council has finished our spring session, I wanted to send you an update about our work so far this year.
One of the most important things we did this year was approve the redevelopment of Glen Lennox. This process and conversation has lasted over six years, with the owner (Grubb Properties) spending over two years working directly with current tenants and neighbors to come up with a redevelopment plan. The plan includes exciting opportunities for new office and retail space in Chapel Hill while preserving affordable housing for existing residents.
We also approved a new redevelopment plan for the Ephesus-Fordham area. The Council spent a substantial amount of time discussing the plan this year and ultimately rezoned the property to incentivize redevelopment and create a more urban, walkable area. I know not every citizen was happy with my decision to support the rezoning, but after receiving feedback and information from many residents, I believe this rezoning was in the best interests of our community and Chapel Hill’s future. The Council will be reviewing the progress to date in the district at our first business meeting of 2015.
In June, the Council voted to move into the negotiation phase for the Obey Creek development, across from Southern Village. I have several concerns about this proposed development—particularly the impact on traffic in the southern part of town—that I intend to ensure are addressed during negotiations. The Council will be discussing next steps at an upcoming work session in the fall before formally beginning negotiations with the developer.
The Town Council also unanimously approved a $96 million budget in June. The budget will provide a designated funding stream for affordable housing for the first time and restores our debt fund to pre-recession levels. This restoration will allow us to address some long overdue capital needs, including building a new police station, which is on the top of my priority list among capital projects. Our police department is bursting at the seams in their current location, and we owe the men and women who keep our residents safe an adequate facility.
In my last update I shared with you that I was appointed to the Orange County Visitors Bureau. Visitor spending in Chapel Hill and Orange County accounts for over $160 million in economic impact ever year, and I look forward to continue working with Visitors Bureau leadership to execute plans to grow that number in the coming years. As you might have read in the Chapel Hill Weekly, I spent three days exploring our county to better understand how tourists experience Chapel Hill and to inform my work on the Visitors Bureau.
I’m kicking off my summer open office hours with a joint session with school board member Mia Burroughs tomorrow afternoon at Joe Van Gogh in the Timberlyne Shopping Center. As always, I hope you will swing by any of my open office hours or e-mail or call me with your questions and concerns.