A seige in legion region construction overtakes Chapel Hill

By Maggie Sperry

The Town of Chapel Hill has been looking to make some major changes to the Legion Road area by pairing with the Downtown Housing Improvement Corporation (DHIC), an organization that develops high-quality housing communities, to expand and add new apartments at 1721 Legion Road. The apartments are made to be affordable and family sized.

The Town of Chapel Hill has described the project as the widening of Legion Road and includes grading, drainage, paving, traffic and erosion control, signing, curbs and gutters, pavement markings, and more.

According to the News and Observer the project will be a public-private partnership between DHIC and the town. The funding for this project has been pulled from the Rental Production Program loan and the N.C. Housing Finance Agency, and about one million dollars and $785,000 dollars from federal housing tax credits. The tax credits are said to be available for about each year for 10 years, so long as it complies with the federal rules. This means the apartments must meet all the Chapel Hill community guidelines.

Lynne Kane, a contributing member to the Chapel Hill community, spoke about the benefits of building the new apartments.

“We are already getting more business income in the town and the more people you have, especially in these apartment buildings, they will bring in more business, and then when people see business is good here more businesses will be willing to come,” stated Kane.

In addition, the goal for the apartments is to be affordable for the average family living in Chapel Hill. For a family of four the 2016 Area Median Income (AMI) is $74,900. This includes all families living in Chapel Hill, not only those earning low wages.

The new apartments are either to be four two or three story apartments with retail space underneath. There will be 14 one and three bedroom apartments and 52 two bedroom apartments. It will all be centered in the 5.5 acre property next to the Chapel Hill Memorial Cemetery, according to the News and Observer. The price for a one bedroom apartment will start at $271 and then $870 dollars for a three bedroom apartment. The appartments are made to be cheaper and affordable to all ends of the wage spectrum.

“I think that getting the affordable housing is great, and you have to let people who know what they’re doing and who have a history of constructing a certain type of project do what they know best. I think one of the problems we’ve had is too much town counsel interference, we got the majority of people on the town council really interested in listening,” explained Kane.

In addition to the apartments, the DHIC is also looking to fund what they call the “Greenfield Commons,” for senior citizens. It will have 69 one and two bedroom apartments on a 3.7 acre land.

“They were able to give that remaining land, that was originally a part of a big town cemetery, to DHIC for a very low cost, it gets you more affordable housing. Some of it will be orientated for senior living which is really important because I know seniors who can’t afford going to the more glamorous retirement community. I think it will be very helpful to people living in Chapel Hill,” said Kane.

In total, both projects are aimed to be affordable and helpful to the community. The total cost should be around nine million dollars said Gregg Warren, DHIC executive director.

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