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Changes to Ephesus-Fordham Area Coming in New Year

Post Date:01/09/2015 8:44 AM
 Village Apts Rear Perspective_body

With the issuance of the Village Plaza Apartments Form District Permit on January 8, changes to invigorate the Ephesus Church Road-Fordham Boulevard area will be underway. Village Plaza is the first development application under the Town of Chapel Hill’s new form-based code process. 

Village Plaza Apartments is proposed for a three-acre site on South Elliott Road – the former location of the Plaza Theater, a site that has languished since the theater was demolished 11 years ago. If building plans are approved, construction could begin in coming months.

"We are excited to begin the transformation of an existing commercial area with this first redevelopment proposal,” said Town Manager Roger Stancil. “Our technical review team has worked diligently with the developer for community gains including roadway and pedestrian improvements, a stormwater plan that treats and detains stormwater runoff, green building construction and affordable rents for future residents.”

Town Council created the Ephesus Fordham District to advance the Chapel Hill 2020 community goals and to address concerns expressed in the Town’s biennial Community Survey, including traffic congestion, lack of shopping choices and housing affordability.  Changes planned for the Ephesus Church Road-Fordham Boulevard intersection will relieve congestion at one of the town’s busiest intersections and include  $8.8 million in publicly funded roadway improvements to begin in the third quarter of 2015.

The developer of Village Plaza Apartments is East West Partners, whose developments include Meadowmont and The Cedars in Chapel Hill, and Woodcroft in Durham.  In September 2014, they submitted the first application under the new form based code of  the Ephesus Fordham zoning district.

Form-based codes are an innovative alternative to conventional zoning that focus on the form of buildings and streets rather than just the land use. For example, the codes focus on the physical character of buildings – the relationship of buildings to each other and to the street. The process  streamlines review and approval of development applications. The Council-adopted codes define a specific vision for the form and character of development that guides staff review of applications for compliance with the code.

Development applications in the Ephesus Fordham District are reviewed by a staff technical team and the Community Design Commission. Based on their recommendations, the Town Manager makes a final decision. Town Manager Roger Stancil issued the Village Plaza Permit on Thursday, January 8.

Another application for the district currently under review is from Regency Centers for demolition of the old Red, Hot and Blue restaurant and construction of a temporary surface parking lot. A condition of permit approval for temporary construction would require that plans for a new building be submitted to the Town  following construction of the Village Plaza Apartments parking garage. Additionally, the Town anticipates an application from CVS Pharmacy at Ram’s Plaza in January.

For more information

The Town Council is expected to receive a progress report on the overall renewal of the Ephesus-Fordham District at its regular business meeting on January 26. For more information about the district, including review status of other pending applications, visit

You can view the Village Plaza Apartments Form District Permit here:

Village Plaza Apartments, by the numbers and more

265 apartments
$1,150+/- monthly rent for one-bedroom apartments
$1,600+/- monthly rent for two-bedroom apartments
463 parking spaces
155 bicycle parking spots
280 linear feet of greenway renovations  

Expanding the Tax Base

With the Village Plaza development, the site value will increase from $1.5 million to a projected $45 million. The developer proposes 265 apartments, ground-floor retail and an attached parking deck.

Transportation Improvements

Roadway improvements around the Village Plaza redevelopment project are funded by the developer and are expected to begin soon after the project’s groundbreaking. New roads will be built between Whole Foods and the development that will provide a wider two-way access to align with the existing road on the west side of Elliott Road and a new road at the rear of the building. To improve the area for cyclists and pedestrians, there will be new sidewalks, bike lanes and bike sharrows. An existing greenway trail will be relocated, improved and extended. The developer will make a $17,000 payment-in-lieu to relocate a bus stop with the potential to add a shelter, solar-powered lighting and a NextBus sign.

Rental Housing

The goal of the Town’s 2011 Affordable Housing Strategy is to increase the availability of and access to housing for households and individuals with a range of income from those who are homeless to those in middle-income households.  Rental units in the Village Plaza development  will be priced to serve households earning less than 120 percent of the area median income, according to the developer. Rents are estimated to be about $1,150 per month for one-bedroom apartments (to be marketed to 1-person households earning 100 percent of AMI or $46,000, or 88 percent of AMI for a 2-person households, or $52,500), and $1,600 per month for two-bedroom apartments (marketed to 2-3 person households  earning 120 percent of AMI or $65,000 to $73,000).

Stormwater Management

Stormwater management plans include the installation of a bio-retention basin in the courtyard to treat runoff from the roof and a sand filter to treat runoff from the parking deck.  The stormwater treatment facilities and nutrient offset purchases reduce nitrogen and phosphorus loading to Jordan Lake by 35 percent and 5 percent, respectively.  The treatment also reduces peak stormwater flow rates for the 1-, 2- and 25-year storm events from the existing conditions by 25 percent, 22 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

Sustainable Design

The developer has committed to meeting the National Association of Home Builders certified green building standard (National Green Building Standard). It is also considering the Town’s Green Building incentive that requires sustainable design principles targeting higher energy and water conservation in exchange for construction permitting fee rebates up to 35 percent.


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