A non-profit foundation affiliated with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has completed an agreement with the Center for Community Self-Help to study and develop a five-year plan to help sustain the town’s Northside neighborhood.
Chancellor Holden Thorp announced the plans today (July 26) during remarks to the University’s Board of Trustees. Chapel Hill Foundation Real Estate Holdings, a not-for-profit corporation founded by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Foundation, approved a request to contract with Self-Help for the study and five-year plan.
“Northside is a wonderful neighborhood facing the kind of situation for which a non-profit like Community Self-Help is well positioned to seek out thoughtful input and develop informed solutions,” Thorp said. “We’re asking Self-Help to recommend a viable approach to balancing the mix of owner-occupied housing of all types with the rental needs of community members and our students who want to live close to downtown and campus.”
Northside, a downtown neighborhood, is a short walk from campus and the proposed redevelopment of University Square by Chapel Hill Foundation Real Estate Holdings. In recent years, the neighborhood has been a topic of community discussion in part because of the presence of UNC students, who are estimated to live in about half of the single-family homes, and the practices of private developers.
Self-Help staff will partner with neighborhood residents, the University and its communications studies department, the Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History, the Town of Chapel Hill and the community.
Said Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, “The Town has long recognized Northside's unique history and proximity to downtown and the campus, as well as the role it plays in the culture of our community. I commend Chancellor Thorp and the University for taking the lead in this new effort to work with the community to strengthen Northside’s position as a great neighborhood. This partnership with Self-Help will complement the current efforts underway by the Jackson Center, the community and the Town.”
The new initiative is consistent with the goals of the Chapel Hill 2020 plan and neighborhood protection and also is aligned with recent efforts by the town and University to consider and plan for off-campus student housing demand in ways that do not threaten neighborhoods, Kleinschmidt said.
Thorp credited Communication Studies Professor Della Pollock, executive director of the Jackson Center, for helping prompt the University’s involvement for reasons including a commitment to cultural and historical preservation. She is among community leaders who have been instrumental in conversations about the neighborhood and suggested involving the Center for Community Self Help, led by CEO and co-founder Martin Eakes.
“The aim of this collaboration is to benefit the past, present and future residents of the Northside neighborhood as we honor and carry forward the great legacy of the Northside community,” Pollock said.
In conjunction with outside consultants and the Jackson Center, Self-Help will work on the five-year plan in three phases: research and analysis, program design and implementation. Initial steps will include a detailed housing market analysis, baseline report and review of zoning and related regulations. Later plans include researching best practices on student rental enforcement, forming an advisory group, facilitating collaboration between nonprofit developers and the neighborhood, finding ways to promote home ownership, and exploring community-based land banking. The contract for these services is valued at up to $210,000.
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