In Progress | Columbia Street Annex | Chapel Hill, NC
This proposed 7-story, 56,870-square-foot building would provide residential and commercial space at the northwest corner of South Columbia Street and the NC54 westbound entry ramp. Our firm has been collaborating with the development team for several years on the project, and the Concept Plan is now pending Town approval.
The plan proposes an efficient design that is highly responsive to the site. The 7-story building would achieve an economically efficient density while leaving more than half the site undisturbed. The building is designed to foster community engagement and to provide the Town with a signature building visible to everyone entering Chapel Hill at this location.
The building would make use of a challenging site – with dramatic elevation changes and a stream bifurcating the property – by allowing for underground parking on the lowest level, away from street view, and creating a pedestrian connection at street level to the commercial/retail spaces. The upper floors, the space facing west towards the stream, and the lower slopes would be used for residential purposes. In this way the building would provide a transition between the busy street on the east facing side and the residential neighborhood to the west.
The design would engage with and benefit the community in alignment with the Town’s 2020 Plan. The relatively small size of the commercial spaces within the building would attract small and startup businesses; and the development would provide housing, office and retail space within walking distance of UNC Hospital and the science buildings on campus. The site is already connected to the rest of the community by sidewalks, bike lanes and the local bus service. A public plaza at street level would create an urban feel for pedestrians and an inviting entry for residents and building users.
The proposed development increases density in a well-serviced area, which helps to minimize sprawl. The design also works within stringent stormwater and stream protection requirements that would make it difficult to develop this site for single-family residences.
“As local firm based in Chapel Hill for more than 35 years, we are committed to the responsible development of our community and believe the design we are proposing reflects our shared values and the Town’s vision for its future.” –Phil Szostak, FAIA