The Real Estate Report
Local Government News Impacting the Real Estate Industry
Meet and Greet with County Commissioner Candidates
Thursday, April 20 4-6 p.m. at GCHAR Office
The Greater Chapel Hill Association of REALTORS will hold a candidate meet and greet with all Orange County commissioner candidates on Thursday, April 20. This is an excellent opportunity to speak directly to the candidates and ask them about their positions on issues affecting the real estate industry. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, contact Sue Millager at 929-4032 or Desiree Goldman at 696-5848.
Council Approves Walgreen’s
The Chapel Hill Town Council approved a new Walgreens to be built at the corner of East Franklin Street and South Estes Drive. It will take the place of the BP gas station. The new drug store prompted worries about increased traffic in an already busy area. In response, the council decided to put a new concrete island to prohibit left turns, and make Walgreens pay $21,000 for traffic improvement construction. The Walgreens will be the first corner drugstore in Chapel Hill as well as one of the first eco-friendly drugstores, using natural light and other green features. For the full story from the Chapel Hill News, click here.
123 West Franklin Possible by 2014
The University Square redevelopment, now referred to by its developers as 123 West Franklin, may have new buildings coming out of the ground by 2014. Project leaders believe it will take two years to gain approval for the process from the Chapel Hill Town Council and another two years to develop the first phase of the project. The first phase would include redeveloping the buildings facing Franklin Street with new 4 and 5 story buildings that would include retail and office space. Phase One also calls for a parking garage wrapped with townhomes. Leaders don’t believe the University Square towers will be removed for at least 10 years. Plans also call for more civic and green space. For the full story from the News and Observer, click here.
New Development Eyed Off Homestead Road
Three development projects are being considered off of Homestead Road, in addition to a new homeless shelter. The first project is an apartment or condominium project on 31.5 acres of land just west of the Southern Human Services Center. In early February, Capstone Properties held a design charrette to get input from the public about the project and its design. Across the street from the Capstone project, a new townhome and office/retail project is also being considered. This project, called Bridgepoint, would include 23 townhomes and two office/retail buildings on 9.2 acres and could go before the town as early as April. The third project on Homestead Road is a proposed Episcopal church. The Episcopal Church of the Advocate is interested in building a 42,300 square foot project on Merin Road, further west from the two projects above. The first project on the site would be a 3,600 sq ft building but eventually the site would expand to include a welcome center, meeting space, a retreat center, outreach building, cottage and parsonage. For the full story from the Chapel Hill News, click here.
New UNC Dorm Proposed
The Wesley Foundation of UNC-Chapel Hill proposed building a four story dorm on the corner of Rosemary and Church streets in downtown Chapel Hill. The dorm would be approximately 80,000 square feet and would include retail and parking, as well as residential space for one hundred forty students. It will also be an entirely substance free dorm, with no alcohol or smoking allowed. The project has stirred controversy, with residence of the area calling it out of character from the rest of the neighborhood. Others are also concerned with parking availability. The current plan calls for twenty-nine underground spaces available at the site, and additional parking available in Chatham County accessible via a shuttle. For the full story from the Carrboro Citizen, click here.
Dropout Rates Down in Area Schools
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and Orange County Schools both saw a decrease in the number of dropouts during the 2008-09 school year. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro dropout rate was 1.4 percent, which was down by about 9 percent from last year. Orange County Schools’ rate also fell, with a decrease of 21.5 percent for a total dropout rate of 3.62. Chatham County, however, saw a drastic increase in high school dropouts. Its rate was up by 45.7 percent from last year with a dropout rate of 5.69. For the full story from the Herald Sun, click here.
CHCCS Ask for Bigger Budget
The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School Board approved a budget of just north of $128 million last week. The budget is actually an increase in funding for students, raising the average amount to $3,158 per student. Overall, it is a two percent increase in funding. Nevertheless, indications from the County and State are that the district will be receiving less money this year. It is looking likely that state funds will decline this year by about $1.6 million for the district. County Commissioners are also saying that they will not be able to increase funding to the district this year. The Commissioners must adopt a budget by June. For the full story from the Chapel Hill News, click here.
Towns, University Apply for Google Fiber Network
Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and UNC are applying jointly for ultra-high speed Internet paid for by Google. The fiber network would run at speeds of up to 1 gigabit, nearly 100 time faster than the speediest network currently available. Google will pay for the construction and operation of the networks and charge customers a market rate to use the fiber. Neighboring Durham is applying for the fiber network in a separate application. Leaders in Chapel Hill and Carrboro believe the communities have a good chance of being selected because of work already underway to lay a fiber-optic network and opportunities such as Carolina North, that would open up new applications for the network. Communities were required to submit their application for the network on March 26. For the full story from the Daily Tar Heel, click here.
Early Results from Office Space Study
Carrboro Planning Board Vacancy
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New Data Show Drop in Commercial Tax Base
Data from the Orange County Economic Development Office show a decline in the county’s commercial tax base as a percent of the overall tax base. From 2008 to 2010, the commercial tax base declined from 3 percent to 2.5 percent of the overall tax base, largely due to increases in the residential portion which incresed from 83.1 percent to 84.6 percent over the same period. In terms of value, the commercial tax base rose from $1.58 billion in 2008 to $1.83 billion in 2010. The residential base rose from $9.4 billion to $12 billion from ’08 to ’10.
From Staff Notes
Chatham County Commissioners recently approved a five-year Capital Improvement Plan that includes a new high school and jail as well as a landfill site study. The high school will be located on Jack Bennett Road in northeastern Chatham County and plans to open in 2015 with a capacity of 800 students. The school will have a core–gymnasium, cafeteria, and media center–that will allow it to expand to 1,200 students, though. The jail is a much needed project with the current facility over capacity nearly 65 percent of the time, according to the Sheriff’s office. Due to construction market conditions, the County cut significant costs in the projects. For the full story from the Chapel Hill News, click here.
Pittsboro Blaze Affecting Court System, Businesses
Hillsborough St Project Redevelopment Proposed
Durham and Raleigh Residents Big Spenders
According to a News and Observer blog, Durham and Raleigh are home to some of the biggest spenders in the country on things like food, shopping, and travel. A survey done by Bundle.com ranks Raleigh as number 6 and Durham as number 10 on the list of highest-spending cities. The report shows that Durhamites spend just over $10,000 per year on food and drinks, about $700 ahead of San Francisco. Austin, Texas is number one on the list. Observers think the reason Raleigh and Durham spend so much more than major markets like New York and L.A. is that the cost of housing is far less. For the full story from the News and Observer, click here.
State and Nation
Cuts to K-12 Education Looming
Federal stimulus money for North Carolina public schools is set to expire in July of 2011, something that is creating concern among school board officials throughout the state. Legislators have cut about $790 million in public school funds and 3,700 jobs. The cuts would have been much deeper without the stimulus funds. But with those funds expiring and local government budgets drying up, school board officials are now looking at alternative measures to keep costs down. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools recently asked the state if there is flexibility to alter the minimum number of days that schools need to be open. The Charlotte School Board also voted to cut 600 teacher positions in the 2010-2011 school year. Most districts are in a “wait-and-see” position and likely won’t make a move for a few more months. For the full story from the Daily Tar Heel, click here.
State Jobless Rate Rises