The Lakeview Mobile Home Park on Weaver Dairy Road is located directly across the street from the Timberlyne shopping center and surrounded by retail, offices and new apartments. A Houston-based developer wants to build 303 apartments and townhomes on the site and adjacent parcels. Tammy Grubb tgrubb@heraldsun.com
The Lakeview Mobile Home Park on Weaver Dairy Road is located directly across the street from the Timberlyne shopping center and surrounded by retail, offices and new apartments. A Houston-based developer wants to build 303 apartments and townhomes on the site and adjacent parcels. Tammy Grubb tgrubb@heraldsun.com

Orange County

Planned apartments could replace one of Chapel Hill’s last affordable housing options

By Tammy Grubb

tgrubb@heraldsun.com

December 18, 2017 06:00 AM

CHAPEL HILL

A plan for apartments on Weaver Dairy Road could be the beginning of the end for one of the town’s few remaining and affordable mobile home parks.

Developer Hanover Co., based in Houston, Texas, has submitted a concept plan for Hanover Chapel Hill – a 380,000-square-foot mix of five-story apartments, three-story townhomes, and roughly 5,000 square feet of retail and office space on 10 acres.

The land would have to be rezoned for an application to move forward. The concept plan will go to the town’s Community Design Commission for a preliminary review on Monday, Dec. 18. A Town Council review is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 24.

A concept plan is not an official application, but allows the town boards to offer feedback to the developer.

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Hanover Co. is offering 15 percent of the 303 proposed apartments, or 45 units, at a level that’s affordable to renters earning 80 percent of the area median income, according to plan documents. That would be affordable to someone earning $41,100 a year, or $58,650 for a family of four.

Another option would be a cash payment to the town’s affordable housing fund.

The Hanover project also proposes new sidewalks for Weaver Dairy Road and a new road across from the Timberlyne shopping center’s main entrance, creating a full intersection. A portion of Old University Station Road, west of the property, would be closed.

Parking would be located under and behind the buildings.

The 33-unit Lakeview Mobile Home Park now occupies a portion of the site, which also includes undeveloped land and two duplex lots. County records list Spike II LLC, owned by Chapel Hill residents Gregg and Lori Ireland, as the property owner.

The Irelands and Hanover Co. development partner Bo Buchanan did not return calls seeking comment.

A proposed site plan for Hanover Chapel Hill shows three five-story apartment buildings around the right side of the property, three three-story townhomes winding along a new road on the left, and a retail and office building at the bottom left corner. Weaver Dairy Road and the Timberlyne Shopping Center lie just to the south.
eklinger Contributed

Most Lakeview residents interviewed recently were surprised to hear about the Hanover project, although one man said he heard rumors something was planned for the land. Another woman said she figured the land might be sold one day because of all the construction happening around them.

Chapel Hill senior planner Judy Johnson, when asked when the residents would be notified about the project, said notices would be sent out this week.

Mariela Hernandez, a zone navigator for the county’s Family Success Alliance program, met recently with the town and project developer. She plans to act as a liaison for the residents, many of whom speak little or no English, she said. Most of the residents own their mobile homes and pay $450 a month each to rent the lots, she said.

The developer has talked about making a payment to help with relocation costs. The minimum cost of $5,000 to move a mobile home and reinstall it on a new lot would be a big expense for the families, Hernandez said, but the high cost of an apartment in Chapel Hill limits their options.

“Most of them are scared because they don’t know where to go,” she said.

Orange County and town officials have been discussing the effect for a few years that growing development pressure in northern Chapel Hill could have on surrounding mobile home parks. The area has seen a number of new projects built, including the 1701 North Apartments and UNC Health Care and Walgreens drugstore across the street.

The county commissioners have set aside $2 million in the last two years toward a solution and endorsed four recommendations from a November report by the Mobile Home Park Work Group, which includes government, development and nonprofit housing officials.

The report suggested the county in the short term could create a loan program for owners who want to improve or expand mobile home parks and a repair or replacement program to help residents improve their mobile homes.

Where to move residents when their parks close remains a longer-term problem. Two proposed options involve the construction of a new mobile home park or housing development, potentially using 18 acres of the government-owned Greene Tract off Eubanks Road. The county could work with a nonprofit housing partner and use some of the $2 million to help bring water and sewer, roads and housing to the site, the report noted.

None of the Lakeview residents interviewed knew about the county’s discussion of their park’s future.

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb

What’s next

The Community Design Commission will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 18, in the Chapel Hill Town Hall council chamber, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.