Ken Larsen's web site - Chapel Hill Politics


Ephesus-Fordham Bait & Switch - Village Plaza Building


The proponents of Ephesus-Fordham misled the people of Chapel Hill by pulling a "bait and switch" tactic:  

Here's what they promised in 2011 and what the public agreed upon:

The proposal for the old movie theater lot is the two red L-shaped structures on the left.  According to the caption and appearance, the public expected nothing taller than 5 stories and there'll be a lot of open space.  Also, according to the the 2011 conceptual massing study in the Small Area Plan, the structure envisioned for the old movie theater lot was entirely commercial property, consistent with the stated goal of increasing the commercial property tax base in the district. By contrast, the FBC that the Town Council passed does not require the new developments in the EF district to create any new commercial property whatsoever, and the project that has actually been proposed for the site is 95% residential and only 5% commercial.  

Here's what developer Roger Perry has presented in September of 2014 for the old movie theater lot on Elliott Road between the ABC store and Whole Foods:


The white box-like structure on the right is the current ABC store.  If a fire ever broke out on that side in Perry's building, it would be difficult to put out, because there's no room for a fire truck to squeeze between the ABC story and Perry's building.  There's only ten feet separating the Perry building from the ABC store.

This 87 foot high 6-story monolith looks nothing like the 2011 3-D plan.  The top five stories are all residential.  The ground floor is commercial.
Here is a view from the Whole Foods side:  


  1. There will be 265 apartment units.
  2. All will be rentals.  A third party will be hired to manage the rentals.
  3. 60% (160) will be one bedroom.  40% (106) will be two bedroom.  There will be no three bedroom units.
  4. Size of a one bedroom unit will be 900 square feet.
  5. Size of a two bedroom unit will be 1000 to 1300 square feet.
  6. Projected rent of a one bedroom unit will be approximately $ 1150/month.
  7. Projected rent of a two bedroom unit will be approximately $ 1600/month.
  8. The parking deck will be for the apartment renters, workers at the ground level stores, customers of the first floor retail stores, and workers at Whole Foods (70 spaces).
  9. There will be 463 vehicular spaces - which includes parking deck and on street parking.
  10. There will be 155 bicycle parking spots.
  11. Elliott Road will be widened to provide parallel parking.  This will nessitate the removal of the trees that are currently there.
  12. In the back ... near the Greenway path ... the Greenway path will be moved closer to the creek and a Town Road nicknamed "Creekside Drive" will be added.  This will necessitate the removal of the trees on the Perry side of the path.
  13. There will be 280 linear feet of greenway renovations.
  1. Parking appears woefully inadequate.  Flagstaff, Arizona's Form Based Code allocates 1.5 spots per one bedroom unit.  Here only 1 spot is allocated.  That is what Flagstaff allocates for a retirement home.  Click here for an analysis of why the parking is inadequate.
  2. Rentals costs are very high.  Who will be able to afford them?
  3. There are no three bedroom units.  Married couples with children need three bedrooms.  In Chapel Hill there is a paucity of three bedroom rental units.  That forces those families to rent outside of Chapel Hill.
  4. At 87 feet high, the structure is almost as tall as a pine tree.  This is completely out of character for what historically been built in Chapel Hill.  It's way too tall.
  5. Fire truck access to the ABC store side of the new building looks difficult.  According to Lee Perry, the ABC store encroaches on the Perry property, so this problem is not entirely Perry's fault.
  6. The Community Design Commission (CDC) has no purview over any of these concerns!  The Town Council approved a version of the Form Based Code that locks in parking and building height.  No public or CDC feedback can overturn it!
Schedule for Village Plaza
  1. A fence cordoning off the development will likely be put up in January of 2015.
  2. The first framing for the building could appear nine months later (October of 2015).
Future development
  1. If the owners of the complex housing O2 Fitness, Market Street Coffee shop, and the ABC store wish to redevelop, they will be obligated to provide room for a town street that will swing around from the back of the Village Plaza complex to Elliott Road near Burger King.  That will put a further crimp on parking. 
  2. They also may build a structure as high as the 87 foot high Village Plaza proposal.





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Ephesus/Fordham project