St. Paul AME proposes a large new housing and multi-purpose development on the edge of town near Rogers Road.
This is good. Rogers Road is a historically Black community in the Northern part of Chapel Hill, and has a decades-long history of bearing the brunt of environmental injustice. The neighborhood was the focus of a 2011 Indyweek profile and a 2016 New Yorker piece, and has long fought for basic amenities that were provided to other neighborhoods decades ago.
The new development will bring in a lot of new residential units at a variety of price points and for a variety of populations. It will add a lot of affordable housing which will allow for families who work in Chapel Hill to live in Chapel Hill instead of in Alamance or Chatham Counties. That will substantially reduce vehicle miles driven on the major arterial roads of the town. Future Greene Tract mixed-use will make this a more connected project.
It could be better.
But I won’t argue for perfect instead of better.
Currently, this project is car dependent. Substantial portions of the project space are devoted to either surface parking or a two story parking structure. There is very limited public transit. The HS bus route runs along Rogers Road during the week with rush-ish hour service but that is it. Getting a cup of coffee requires a car. Doing groceries requires a car. Taking your kid to Taekwondo requires a car.
The development looks to be a fairly standard green-ish field outer ring development. It will, even with the increased density and smaller-allowed lots if its rezoning request is approved, have most of the characteristics of that type of development.
It addresses a need, but we can and should seek to do more and do better. While the project as proposed is car dependent, the development of a portion of the Greene Tract in keeping with vision of the RENA community will reduce these future residents’ reliance on cars. We encourage the towns of Carrboro and Chapel Hill to keep that in mind as it continues planning for the broader Rogers Road area.