|Volume 4, Issue 9||September, 2009|
The Real Estate Report
Local Government News Impacting the Real Estate Industry
The UNC-Chapel Hill Foundation Real Estate Holdings and Cousins Properties have chosen an architect for the redevelopment of University Square. Cousins and UNC chose Elkus Manfredi Architects, a firm from Boston, to design the project. Manfredi has designed projects for similar campus settings, such as Ohio State, and will work on designs for the project into the spring of 2010. Construction most likely will not begin for another three years. For the full story from The News and Observer, click here.
Pittsboro May have Big-Box Retailer
A big-box retailer may be coming to the intersection of Hwy. 15-501 and Russet Run in a 43-acre shopping center already approved in Pittsboro. Ricky Spoon, of Ricky Spoon Builders, has not said what big-box store he has in mind, but a more detailed agreement should come out in the next 60 to 90 days. Spoon is the developer of Bellemont Station where Lowe’s, Carolina Brewery, McDonald’s and other businesses are located. The new shopping center will probably include a grocery store, pharmacy, sporting goods store and clothing stores.
From The Chatham News
Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools Release 2009 Benchmarks
The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School District released its 2009 “report card” figures for the district’s five year strategic plan. The 2009 figures are being compared to 2008, which was the benchmark year and is being used as a starting year for comparison. The Report Cards track four key areas: growth, proficiency, the completion of important courses, and the graduation rate. Scores above 100 mean the benchmark was exceeded, less than 100 mean it was not achieved. For 2009, the district’s overall score was 99.7 percent for all students. For economically disadvantaged students, the overall score was 96.9 percent. For Latino students, the overall score was 102.5 percent. For African American students, the overall score was 101 percent. For the full story from the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, click here.
Town Considering Dawson Hall
The Chapel Hill Town Council is considering the purchase of Dawson Hall, a 70,000 square-foot office building located off Weaver Dairy Road, in order to help the public library and the police department. Currently owned by Southern Village developer D.R.Bryan, the building has not been occupied since it was built a few years ago. The town plans to use the building at first to hold books from the public library to speed its renovation. After the library is completed Dawson Hall would become the police department’s permanent location.
From the News and Observer
Chamber Election Coverage Gearing Up
The Carrboro Board of Aldermen decided to leave former Alderman John Herrera’s vacant seat open until elections in November. Mayor Mark Chilton proposed that Herrera’s seat be filled by the highest
non-incumbent vote-getter in the November election.
Until Herrera’s seat is filled, Alderman Randee Haven O’Donnell is responsible for completing Herrera’s obligations to the board. With his move to Holly Spring and his announcement about not running for re-election, Herrera’s vacancy came as no surprise. For the full story from The Carrboro Citizen, click here.
NRG Forum Results
Neighbors for Responsible Growth recently held a forum with Chapel Hill Town Council candidates about future growth in the community and how to keep it “green.” Incumbents Jim Merritt, Ed Harrison and Laurin Easthom were joined at the forum by challengers Gene Pease, Matt Pohlman, Will Raymond, and Penny Rich. Many of the responses focused on transportation issues including expanding bike and pedestrian mobility and bringing a light rail system to the Triangle and Chapel Hill. To view the full coverage from the Daily Tar Heel, click here.
Varsity Theater Space Finds Prospects
The Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership is discussing the possibility of changing the recently-closed Varsity Theater into either a non-profit community arts venue or an arts film theater. UNC Professor Greg Gangi recommended the idea of opening an arts film theater similar to the Nickelodeon in Columbia, S.C.–a successful business since 1979. Gangi is pushing to make the decision about to use the Varsity quickly before the space is converted into another use. However, with both the town and University short on funds, it may be difficult for either entity to move forward in a significant way. For the full story from The Daily Tar Heel, click here.
University Mall Undergoing Renovations
Madison Marquette, owner of University Mall and Rams Plaza, is undertaking a multi-million dollar renovation of the mall that is scheduled to wrap up before November. The renovations will brighten the mall, add more seating in the center court, and allow more arts and cultural events to be hosted there in the future. Construction will take place around mall hours. While Madison is beginning the renovation work, it is also launching a campaign to bring national clothing retailer American Apparel to the mall. The overall vision is for the mall to have a strong mix of local, regional and national retailers. For the full story from the Herald Sun, click here.
Restoration Begins on Historic Hillsborough Inn
Hillsborough’s The Colonial Inn, erected in 1838 on West King Street in the downtown, will be receiving multiple structural improvements in the next seven months thanks to an order set up by the town’s planning director, Margaret Hauth. Inn owner Francis Henry is required to make 12 specific repairs each with a deadline and $100 fine per day if they are not completed. The changes are coming about as a result of a complaint filed by resident Joe Rees who cited the town’s 2007 ordinance regarding building stability and appearance. For the full story from The Chapel Hill News, click here.
Grant Starts Hillsborough Park
The North Carolina Parks and Recreation Authority granted $500,000 to go towards developing Fairview Park, a joint project by Orange County and the Town of Hillsborough. The award came from the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund and was one of 21 awarded from an allotted $8.4 million. Fairview Park will be located in Hillsborough and will provide a variety of facilities including basketball courts, a baseball field, volleyball court, playground and hiking trails. The grant will be matched dollar-for-dollar with county bond funds, and construction should begin next month.
Parking Alternatives Considered for Hillsborough
n order to begin discussing possible solutions to the most crucial downtown parking problems, Hillsborough town staff is working with several businesses to hand out surveys. From September 28 to October 9, these surveys will be available during regular business hours in Tupelo’s and Cup a Joe, along with other locations later on. While the surveys are collected and reviewed, a study of traffic patterns downtown will also be conducted. The findings should be ready to present in November. For the full story from News of Orange, click here.
MLS Figures Mixed
Appraisals marked lower than the asking price of homes in Durham and surrounding areas have become a recent trend, an unfortunate consequence of the derailed real estate market. As a result, lenders are a bit more nervous about making the loan to the buyer. One home sold by Phoenix Realty in Durham, for example, was appraised at $20,000, or 12 percent, less than the asking price.
A board member of the N.C. Professional Appraisers Coalition said that increasing number of foreclosures and the depressed housing market may be the main cause in these variations. For the full story from The Herald Sun, click here
Brookings Report Says Triangle Economy Improving
A recent report by the Brookings Institute cites that parts of the Triangle’s economy are improving, though indicators such as unemployment and foreclosure rates continue to lag. The report says the Raleigh-Cary metro area saw its Gross Metropolitan Product (GMP) increase by 0.3 percent over its first quarter figures. This is a good sign that businesses are continuing to increase production. Housing prices in Raleigh also rose 1.1 percent over last year compared to a 1.7 percent decrease nationwide. Figures such as unemployment, though, continue to remain bleak. Unemployment is a lagging indicator, though, and won’t likely pick up for a few more months or year. For the full story from the Triangle Business Journal, click here.
The US Census Bureau’s new American Community Survey shows that the Raleigh-Durham area, which consists of Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Harnett, Johnston, Orange, Person and Wake counties, has the third highest number of residents with at least a four year degree at 40 percent. The Triangle ranks behind the Washington-Baltimore-Northern Virginia at 42 percent and San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland at 41 percent.
Raleigh-Durham is well ahead of other areas of North Carolina. Asheville was second in the state with 28.4 percent followed by Charlotte at 27.6. Among Triangle communities, Cary leads the way with almost 65 percent of residents older than 25 having a four year degree. Filtering the data according to professional or doctoral degrees, the Triangle drops to sixth in the nation. For the full story from the Triangle Business Journal, click here.
State and Nation
Falling Rates Leading to More Mortgage Applications
The Real Estate Report is produced monthly by the Chapel Hill Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Chapel Hill Association of Realtors