Carolina North and Chapel Hill 2020

Bruce RunbergChapel Hill 2020 will offer the special topic presentation “Carolina North and Chapel Hill 2020” by Bruce Runberg, associate vice chancellor for facilities planning and construction at UNC-Chapel Hill. The public is invited to the presentation to be held at noon on Wednesday, Jan. 25, in the Council Chamber of Chapel Hill Town Hall. The talk will be aired live on Chapel Hill Government TV-18 and streamed on the Town of Chapel Hill website at  

Carolina North and Chapel Hill 2020

By Bruce Runberg

The University of North Carolina and the Town of Chapel Hill were created at the same time, for each other’s mutual benefit, more than two centuries ago. That was the comprehensive plan of the 18th century. In the 21st century, not much has changed in that aspect. The university and the town rely and thrive on each other.

The Town of Chapel Hill is in the midst of reassessing its priorities as a community through the crafting of a new comprehensive plan, Chapel Hill 2020. As always, UNC plays a major development role in the town. And as we look ahead to the future, the University’s new campus at Carolina North will be a significant part of that development.

Carolina North will be a magnet to attract the best and brightest to this community, one that will create tremendous economic benefit for the area and the state. This campus will encourage a synergy among research, business, science, law and technology that will in turn produce new ideas, products and jobs.

This research-driven entrepreneurship will take place in a highly green environment, one specifically designed to be a model of sustainability and to take advantage of the latest technological developments – with buildings constructed to the highest green standards, landscaping designed to conserve and reuse precious water and energy drawn from sustainable sources.

Even the planning for Carolina North was innovative, as UNC and Chapel Hill negotiated their first development agreement, to guide the first 20 years of growth at Carolina North. The town and the university, with significant community input, worked together to craft an overarching plan that set parameters and goals for the development while leaving individual details flexible within the plan’s framework. The town gets certain commitments from the university, while the university no longer has to take individual projects through a lengthy review process. While the beginning of construction on Carolina North has been delayed by the economic downturn, we are excited to be finally underway with the selection of a site for the new Research Building and the start of its design and programs.

The Carolina North Development Agreement ushered in a new era of town-gown cooperation and collaboration, one which I hope will continue for our mutual benefit. More important, a strong town-gown relationship can only be positive for the community as a whole. UNC and UNC Health Care are a major – one might say the major – force for economic development, cultural enrichment and public service in our community. UNC also attracts visitors, fans, researchers and close to 30,000 of the brightest students you’ll ever meet, who are the lifeblood of the campus and the surrounding community.

I invite you to attend Wednesday’s presentation and find out more about the Carolina North Development Agreement and the effect the new campus there will have on the area in the year 2020 and beyond.


3 thoughts on “Carolina North and Chapel Hill 2020

  1. Whitcomb Rummel says:

    It was indeed a great presentation – it makes one truly excited to be a part of this unique community. I would love to see a coordinated effort between the town and University to figure out how to maximize neighborhood interaction and utility – for example, will there be food shops and smaller commercial businesses that neighboring residents can use at Carolina North? If not, will people who work and live Carolina North want to have access to the same services nearby?

    Our goal should be to make Carolina North and the nearby community as porous and symbiotic as possible.

  2. Tim Kuhn says:

    I attended the presentation and was impressed with the plans. Sally Wu mentioned surface area parking. After the presentation, I asked Ms Wu if the parking would be similar to the Cobb parking deck or more like the parking at the Friday Center. She said that the current budget model does not include structured parking (ie, the Cobb parking deck) and the parking would be surface area parking. I was stunned. Given the density with retail, housing, office, and the law school, there will be many commuters and they will need some place to park. Surface area parking only does not appear to be consistent with the “green” initiative intended for Carolina North. I think the planners should consider alternatives to surface area parking. Thank you

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