|Volume 5, Issue 6
The Real Estate Report
Local Government News Impacting the Real Estate Industry
New Parking Deck Downtown
Franklin West, LLC has proposed revamping The Courtyard at Franklin and Roberson Streets to add more retail space and a parking deck for ninety vehicles. The new plan mixes residential and retail with the addition of nineteen apartments. Parking has been a setback to the Courtyard in the past. See the full article from The Chapel Hill News.
Town Expands Public Library
On Monday, June 7th, the Town of Chapel Hill passed a $16 million expansion that doubles the size of the public library on Estes Drive. The addition is needed to keep up with demand of library services. $2 million has already been secured, and the remaining funds will be in place to begin construction by the end of the year. See the full article by the News&Observer.
Chapel Hill Museum to Close
Without money from the Town Council, the Chapel Hill Museum will close its doors. Museum officials made the request for operating and maintenance expenses, but the Council returned less than half of the request. The museum’s board will decide its next steps. See the full article by The Chapel Hill News.
New Outlet Mall on Schedule
The Tanger Outlet Center in Mebane, a new outlet mall in Alamance County, is on schedule to open in November of this year. After a ground breaking ceremony last December, workers have been laboring around the clock to see that the mall is open on time. The 317,000 square foot center will host an array of stores from Polo and Brooks Brothers to Nike. The signature store will be Saks Fifth Avenue which, while smaller than most Saks, will have the same look and feel of a larger store. Management of the mall recently set up in a temporary trailer to begin marketing the center. The mall will have a mix of indoor and outdoor spaces an shops. See the full article by the Herald-Sun.
Carrboro Board Weighs Permit Fees
After hearing from a local business person, the Carrboro BOA is set to discuss commercial building permit fees at its June 22nd meeting. Cam Hill brought the costs of these permits to the town’s attention. He wants the town to consider the impact of these fees on business owners. See the full article by 1360 WCHL.
Town Plans for Homeless Shelter
The Chapel Hill Town Council heard a request for more guidance from the Planning Board charged with improving homeless shelters. While the board has not made any recommendations, it has received input from organizations like the Inter-Faith Council. See the full article by 1360 WCHL.
Council Improves Development Review
The Chapel Hill Town Council will improve the development review process by putting in place a training program for advisory boards and staffs; field testing a process for one simultaneous developer presentation to all advisory boards; and reviewing the Land Use Management Ordinance. See the council agenda for June 21st on the town website.
Board Approves New Durham High School
School officials in Durham are ready to break ground on a new high school after purchasing land from Duke University. The new high school will cost $48 million and serve up to 1,200 students each year. See the full article by the News&Observer.
Town Releases New Guide to Services
The Town of Chapel Hill released a 2010 Guide to Services to update and expand information on town services. The guide is available at the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce as well as various other locations. View the guide on the town website.
New Report Highlights Barriers to Small Business Development
Heather Schroeder, a UNC graduate student for the Department of City and Regional Planning, completed a report to the Town of Chapel Hill on barriers for local small business owners. Based on her interviews, Schroeder found many issues to local businesses had to do with local government, including sign ordinances, permitting, and a lack of guidance. Downtown businesses are hampered by high rent, lack of retail diversity, lack of parking, and homelessness, according to the study. Businesses owners praised the town’s location, “Buy Local” initiative, and the local Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Partnership.
Orange County to Hold Sales Tax Referendum
The Orange County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to add a sales tax referendum to the November ballot. The 2010-2011 budget is already approved, and all board members agreed the additional revenues of a sales tax increase should support economic development. A public forum will be held in August. See the full article by 1360 WCHL.
County Commissioners Say No to Tax Increase
On Tuesday, June 8th, the Orange County Commissioners considered various tax increases in a budget meeting. The Commissioners voted against a school district request for a tax increase. However, they fully funded the economic development budget. See the full article by 1360 WCHL or Chapel Hill News.
OWASA Raises Water Rates
The OWASA Board of Directors approved the budget for next year, raising monthly rates by 9.25% for businesses, multi-family developments, irrigation-only and institutional customers like the university. The directors cite reduced sales, aging infrastructure, a decline in new customer connections, and workloads as reasons for the change. See the full article by the News&Observer.
Orange County Streamlining Development Ordinances
The Orange County Planning and Inspections Department is compiling a Unified Development Ordinance to contain existing ordinances in a single document. The UDO will contain zoning, signage, parking, lighting, and other regulations. For more information, see the county website.
Triangle Home Sales Up
The Triangle Multiple Listing Services reported an increase in home sales in the area for the month of May. The increase was fueled by a first-time home buyers’ tax credit of $8,000 and a $6,500 credit on repeat buyers who may have put homes under contract in April. The median sales price was also up from the same time last year. See the full article by the Triangle Business Journal.
New Transportation Option in Downtown Durham
A new bus service will run from the Golden Belt urban arts campus, through downtown on Main Street, and to the Duke Clinics on Trent Drive. In a partnership between Duke University and Durham, the Bull City Connector project will introduce six diesel hybrid buses to run every fifteen minutes. Until the new vehicles arrive in 2012, existing DATA hybrid buses will run the route. See the full article by the Herald-Sun.
Chatham Trims Tax Increase
After weighing a proposed 2.5 cent property tax increase, Chatham County Commissioners voted instead to raise taxes 1.97 cents. Nearly all of the tax increase will go to fund the opening of the Margaret B. Pollard Middle School and cover other school budget needs. The impact of the tax increase on a $200,000 home is roughly $40. The tax increase will not go toward salary increases—the second straight year Chatham County has gone without an increase. In related news, two bond rating agencies recently upgraded Chatham’s bond rating, giving the County the highest rating of any county in its population group. See the full article by the Herald-Sun.
Triangle Next Market for Electric Car
Duke Energy’s Mike Rowand, director of advanced customer technology, predicts the Triangle and Charlotte might be markets for the debut of electric cars to the US market. Local utilities are ready for the vehicles. Most consumers will charge their vehicles at home or at work, and charging stations seem less likely for now. See the full article by the Triangle Business Journal.
Resident Input Sought on Transit
The Capital Area and the Durham-Chapel Hill Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organizations seek resident input on the 2009 Long Range Transportation Plan. Organizers are looking for input to back a plan to seek federal funding for capital investment. The Chapel Hill meeting will be held July 7th at Town Hall from 5:30-8:30. See the full article by 1360 WCHL.
Durham County Raises Property Taxes
The new property tax rate in Durham County will be 74.59 cents per $100, up 5.3%. The County Commissioners approved the increase while directing lottery funds to be spent on daily operations for the schools. The shift will hinder school maintenance and construction but will save teacher jobs. See the full article by the Herald-Sun.
State and Nation
Mobility Fund a Potential for Area Road Projects
The NC House included a version of Governor Perdue’s “mobility fund” in the state budget proposal to provide for much-needed transportation projects. The priority is the I-85 Yadkin River Bridge between Davidson and Rowan Counties, but Triangle officials are still pleased with the measure. Once the bridge project is complete, the fund would be available to other areas of the state without regard to the equity formula that has hindered road projects in the past. See the full article from The Herald-Sun.
Road Widening Compromise in Carrboro
The Carrboro Board of Alderman is working with the NC Department of Transportation on the plans to widen Smith Level Road in Carrboro. The compromise creates a two lane road with a divided median from NC 54 to BPW Club Road, where a center turn lane would replace the median southward to Rock Haven Road. Bicycle lanes and sidewalks would line the route, and a roundabout would replace the signal near Carrboro High School. See the full article from The Chapel Hill News.
State Incentives to Reach $300M in Five Years
Tax breaks from the General Assembly to spur economic growth could reach $300 million by 2015. These credits have benefited film, energy, paper, and other industries for creating jobs. Limits have been extended for the film industry, but in all cases, the tax credit only applies after jobs are created. See the full article from The Herald-Sun.
Grant to Fund Bioterror Warning System
Representative David Price secured a grant to allow The Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC to develop a bioterrorism warning system. The system will use information from hospital records, doctors’ offices, and prescription databases to detect threats to security. See the full article by the News&Observer.
133,000 Lost Jobs in Previous Decade
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks North Carolina among 33 states having fewer private-sector jobs than ten years ago. The state lost 133,400 private-sector jobs in that time period. See the full article by the Triangle Business Journal.