Chapel Hill 2020 Special Topic: Retail, Housing, and Economic Development in Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill 2020 will offer the special topic presentation “Retail, Housing, and Economic Development in Chapel Hill” by Dwight Bassett, Town of Chapel Hill economic development officer, at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10 in the Council Chamber of Chapel Hill Town Hall.

Bassett will present information from market analysis of Chapel Hill’s Office, Retail and Housing markets, the Ephesus Church-Fordham Small Area Plan and Traffic Analysis, and concepts from the Downtown Framework and Action Plan.

The presentation will be aired live on Chapel Hill TV-18 and via streaming video at  The presentation will be replayed on TV-18 at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Jan. 11-13.

The “Barriers to Small Business Development” study found that Chapel Hill is hampered by a high cost of doing business, an overly restrictive sign ordinance, parking issues and complicated approval processes. Issues specific to downtown businesses included high rent, a lack of retail diversity and density, problems with parking availability and costs, and the presence of homeless people and panhandlers. Positives mentioned were Chapel Hill’s location near major transportation routes as well as UNC-Chapel Hill. There were also references to many things that the Town is currently undertaking to improve the business climate in Chapel Hill.

Tuesday’s presentation will focus on the key outcomes from the Office, Housing and Retail studies. These are all studies completed to benchmark Chapel Hill for future economic development and inform Council of information to help in making decisions about our future. The Ephesus Church-Fordham Small Area Plan-Traffic Analysis is a Town of Chapel Hill planning initiative that will guide development and investment in the Ephesus Church-Fordham area. The study area is bounded by Franklin Street, Elliot Road, Legion Road and cuts across from Legion back to Franklin and from Ephesus Church back to Fordham. The plan considers current transportation conditions, defines future land uses and determines solutions for the existing transportation network in order to encourage reinvestment in properties within the study area, which includes Ram’s Plaza.

The Downtown Framework and Action Plan was created as an update to the Downtown Small Area Plan, which was developed in 2000. The Town Council initiated a new Downtown Master Plan as one of its goals for 2009. In November 2009, the Town, in conjunction with the Downtown Partnership, issued an RFP, and Kling-Stubbins of Raleigh was selected to complete the Downtown Development Action Plan and Framework. The Ephesus Church-Fordham plan was adopted in June 2011 after several reviews from the community including a presentation to citizen advisory boards and commissions in spring 2011 and Council also referred this adopted Plan to the Chapel Hill 2020 process as an existing component of the Comprehensive Plan. . The Downtown Framework remains a draft plan as work has continued to refine it and the Town Manager placed a hold on it as issues related to Northside and Pine Knolls were worked on.

Bassett is the Town of Chapel Hill’s first economic development officer, hired in 2007 to develop a clear economic development strategy using the Town’s adopted plans; work with the Town Manager and staff to seek improvements in the Town’s development process that maintain excellent results; and identify potential projects and begin conversations to forge redevelopment. Learn more about Chapel Hill’s economic development strategy at

The special topic presentations planned by Chapel Hill 2020 organizers respond to requests from the stakeholders who are developing the plan for the community’s future. As part of their work in exploring the plan’s key themes, they are gathering information, including demographic, economic and budget data.

For more information about Chapel Hill 2020, visit or Would you like to schedule a speaker to attend your club or group’s next neighborhood meeting or luncheon? Please contact us and help us involve more people who care about our community in planning its future. Contact or 919-969-5068.

Upcoming Chapel Hill 2020 Special Topic Presentations and Community Meetings:

  • 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10: Retail, Housing, and Economic Development in Chapel Hill in the Council Chamber of Chapel Hill Town Hall. Presentation by Dwight Bassett, economic development officer for the Town of Chapel Hill 
  • 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12: Theme Group Working Session at Glenwood Elementary School, 2 Prestwick Road. Child care for children ages three and older is available, thanks to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA Teen Leaders’ Club. 
  • Noon Thursday, Jan. 19: Demographics, Land Use, and Transportation in the Council Chamber of Chapel Hill Town Hall. Presentation by David Bonk, long range and transportation planner for the Town of Chapel Hill 
  • 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21: Innovation Unconference in Hamilton Hall-Room 100 on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. Chancellor Holden Thorp will be the keynote speaker for this event. 
  • Noon Wednesday, Jan. 25: The Carolina North Development Agreement in Council Chamber of Chapel Hill Town Hall 
  • 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25: Priority Based Budgeting in Council Chamber of Chapel Hill Town Hall. Presentation by Kenneth Pennoyer, director of business management services for the Town of Chapel Hill 
  • 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11: Can We Heal Our Local Waterways? at the NC Botanical Garden, 100 Mason Farm Road. Presentation offered by Friends of Bolin Creek with the UNC Institute for the Environment

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