C harting O ur F uture A Land Use Initiative
Downtown Preserving and enhancing the heart of Chapel Hill.
Allow increased heights within the Focus Area in locations where such height may be necessary to support or encourage stated redevelopment initiatives. Encourage higher density compatible housing through infill, redevelopment, and adaptive reuse (i.e., the reuse of an existing building for a purpose other than what it was originally built for). To provide a substantial residential population to support downtown businesses throughout the year, housing for year-round residents is desirable in Downtown. Placemaking, Street Character, and Urban Form Design alleys to serve as places as well as functional welcoming pathways and wayfinding. Enhance the visual character of the Franklin and Rosemary Streets with additional plantings and consistent street design elements. Increase tree canopy coverage within and outside the public rights-of-way as well as encourage the use of green roofs and walls. Establish design guidelines and controls so that new and renovated buildings are compatible in form and proportion with desired character. When new developments are proposed along West Rosemary Street, ensure that the proposals are in keeping with the spirit of the West Rosemary Development Guide. Active frontages are encouraged to create vibrancy and ensure pedestrian activity over time. These frontages should consider the placement of buildings on the site, the location of primary building entrances, streetscapes, and pedestrian-scaled amenities. In some cases, active frontages may mean that retail and services should be allowed on the first floor within the Multi-family Character Type. Improvements to street facades that promote good design and preserve the Town’s unique architectural character should be encouraged. When core heights are utilized, large step backs from the front façade are desirable to create a more human-scaled public realm. The street level of a building should be designed to engage, charm, and attract pedestrians. Facades adjacent to the sidewalk should appear inviting, safe, and welcoming. Design architectural features, fenestration patterns, and material choices and arrangements to indicate the activities contained within. Building facades should be composed of elements scaled to promote and support pedestrian comfort, safety, and orientation. The building facade should create a “human scale” not only at the street/sidewalk level, but also as viewed from farther away. Use materials at street/sidewalk level that create a sense of permanence and bring life and warmth to Downtown. Provide unique elements on building facades, within/adjacent to public open spaces, and/or on the sidewalk to create a distinctive, attractive, and memorable sense of place associated with the building. Density & Intensity Redevelop at a scale and intensity that strengthens Downtown’s capacity to absorb growth and limit impacts to other areas of Town. Appropriate transitions should be incorporated between downtown and the Northside neighborhood. As noted in the West Rosemary Development Guide, when new structures are built along Rosemary Street, incorporate setbacks and stepbacks that respect the adjacent residences. Environmental Create urban pocket parks adjacent to the sidewalk zones, specifically in areas prime for public events and festivals.
The Downtown Focus Area maintains, enhances, and promotes downtown as the social and cultural center of Chapel Hill through infill development, redevelopment, and adaptive reuse (i.e., the reuse of an existing building for a purpose other than what it was originally intended). Special consideration is given to previous Town planning efforts while encouraging sufficient density to absorb growth and limit impacts to other areas of Chapel Hill. Preserving and enhancing the heart of Chapel Hill while attracting year-round residents and additional office and commercial uses are core components of this Focus Area. While the Focus Area Maps and Principles express an overall vision for Downtown, refinement of that vision will take place during the next phase of the Charting Our Future Project. Overview of Current Conditions The Downtown Focus Area stretches from the Town boundary with Carrboro in the west to Spring Lane in the east and includes East/West Rosemary and East/West Franklin Streets. This Focus Area covers the traditional core of the Town and is home to a variety of restaurants, offices, and other services typical of a central business district. The area includes part of the Franklin-Rosemary Historic District, Chapel Hill National Register District, and University of North Carolina campus. The student population is a major influence. Though no undeveloped land remains within this area, redevelopment will likely occur over time. Opportunities to enhance the urban design and functionality of Franklin and Rosemary Streets will occur as part of this redevelopment. Proactive planning will be necessary to absorb growth over time while preserving the unique character of downtown and protecting established neighborhoods to the north, east, and south. Numerous previous plans are on the books, including the West Rosemary Development Guide and various townwide plans. Focus Area Principles Connectivity & Mobility Encourage safe and attractive multimodal transportation options that leverage the street grid and urban intensity. Connect and widen sidewalks to encourage walkability, where possible. Implement the multimodal network within the downtown area as determined in the Chapel Hill Mobility and Connectivity Plan, particularly with respect to connections to existing trails and on-street bicycle facilities. Encourage appropriate redevelopment of surface parking and parking decks to provide more structured parking solutions for private and public use and further infill development goals that support better streetscape character, scale, and connectivity. Parking strategies should encourage people to park once and walk from one destination to another within in mixed-use activity nodes. Likewise, property owners who have different peak hours of parking demand should share their parking spaces with one another. Surface parking between buildings and primary streets should be avoided. Mid-block pass-throughs for vehicles and pedestrians are encouraged to promote connectivity between Franklin and Roseemary Streets. Land Use Redevelop parking facilities to knit together the urban fabric and enhance the streetscape character and
Town of Chapel Hill |
| December 2020
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