The redevelopment of University Square is progressing through the Chapel Hill Advisory Board


The Chapel Hill Community Design Commission convened a special session last week to discuss redevelopment of University Place and approve a list of design goals to be sent to city officials. It is now recommended that the developer include this list in future plans.

According to the applicant, Ram Reality Advisors, the redevelopment will transform the university square into an accessible city center. Development plans provide for up to 300 apartments, 150 hotel rooms, 150,000 square meters of office space and 450,000 square meters of retail space.

The Chapel Hill Town Council must approve the project before construction can begin. However, there is a condition that the applicant must go through the city’s Community Design Commission (CDC) before submitting the final plans to the city manager.

CDC Chair Susana Dancy said the new document, detailing the project objectives, should set the standard for how developers create their design plans.

“This emerging document conveys that we would like to see something broken down into components on a human scale,” said Dancy, “with a connection between the various aspects of this project.”

Some of the worrying topics discussed at the CDC meeting included the heights, lengths and entrances to project buildings, as well as sidewalks.

The commissioners propose a maximum building height of 75 feet, while the current design criteria allow buildings up to 90 feet in height. They also require that buildings be no longer than 100 meters.

Members also stated that the existing five-foot walkway along Willow Road was “inadequate” for the proposed apartment building. Instead, they recommend continuing the 10-foot multipurpose trail on Fordham and Estes so that the entire site is largely enclosed.

They also demanded that the main building entrances face the street and be clearly recognizable and that the client should incorporate more greenery and art on the entire site.

Site plan for the redevelopment of Universitätsplatz (Photo via Ram Realty)

The CDC was given October 15 to submit these proposals to the city manager. First reviews earlier this year will be postponed.

“By saying these are the recommended parameters – these are the elements that should be included in the design standards – here are some suggestions for starting points – we believe these support the overall goals of a quality, integrated, pedestrian-oriented space make it, ”said Dancy.

The city manager will review these proposals before presenting the project to Chapel Hill City Council at a later date.

Lead photo via Ram Realty / Ashley Saulpaugh. does not charge any subscription fees. You can support local journalism and our mission to serve the community. Help us today – every single dollar counts.

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