In his annual budget message from last May, Chatham County Manager Dan LaMontagne wrote that fiscal 2018-2019 was a bit of a downer when it came to development.
“Chatham County tax values continue to grow, but we are experiencing slower growth from development services, due in large part to the extremely wet weather,” he wrote, referring later to permit fees in particular. “Several promising development projects are in the pipeline and are expected to proceed, but extended wet weather will impact the pace of development.”
In 2020 — weather pending, of course — it’s more than likely those developments will start landing and making a more visible impact on the landscape of Chatham County. Here’s a peek at three of them and what they mean for Chatham.
The first homes in Chatham Park are scheduled to be sold starting a little more than a month from now.
Years of planning, permitting and waiting will lead up to February, when pre-sales for The Cottages, Chatham Park’s first homes, will begin. According to a December announcement, Chatham Park has partnered with Cary-based Fresh Paint by Garman Homes to construct single-family homes described as fit for “artful, environmentally-friendly, minimalist-style living.” Single- and two-story plans will begin priced in the low $200,000-range, and each home will be within walking distance from downtown Pittsboro and across the street from a new 10-acre park and the yet-to-be-finished Thales Academy. The homes are projected to be move-in ready by October.
In the statement, Fresh Paint Division President Rebecca McAdoo said the homes were about “celebrat(ing)” the “lifestyle choice” of simplicity.
“More and more people are purging their clutter and desiring spaces that are artfully designed to the way they want to live,” she said. “The Triangle marketplace has never seen a home product like this.”
Tim Smith, owner of Preston Development, which is developing Chatham Park, added that The Cottages is part of the overall development’s goal to “create what our future residents will consider to be the perfect community.”
As construction continues in multiple parts of the Briar Chapel neighborhood, two particular developments are breaking ground and under way as 2019 turns to 2020.
Breaking ground this year is a new apartment complex, built by Blue Heron Asset Management, that will include 200 units across three four-to-five story buildings. The complex will also include a stand-alone amenities building. The apartments will range from one to three bedrooms and include “design elements traditionally found in single-family homes,” according to a news release, like built-in bookshelves and kitchen bars. The amenities building will have a demonstration kitchen, library and community pool.
“Blue Heron is thrilled to be building at Briar Chapel, where we’ll be bringing the best-in-class finishes and amenities common in urban apartment projects to a more laid-back, gracious and community-centered setting,” said Kevin Wade, project manager with Blue Heron Asset Management.
Deeper into Briar Chapel, the 55-and-over neighborhood Encore has added a new section, Encore North, with single-story homes backed up to wooded or open green space.
Mosaic and more
Two major Chatham Park-related developments are slated to get some headlines in 2020.
Mosaic at Chatham Park, an “entertainment and lifestyle destination” off of U.S. Hwy. 15-501 across the street from Northwood High School, will have its first retail outlets begin operation this October along with apartments for lease and condominiums for purchase. The first tenants for the $350 million development include Town Hall Burger + Beer, People’s Coffee, EDGE Aveda Day Spa and UNC Urgent Care.
Residents driving by Northwood won’t be able to miss the cleared area on the side of the highway, and if everything goes according to plan, they’ll see and be able to take advantage of some of Mosaic’s first offerings. A 114-room hotel, movie theater and live performance theater are also coming down the road.
“Mosaic is poised to invigorate residents and patrons alike with a dynamic, vibrant environment,“ Kirk Bradley, one of Mosaic’s developers, said in late October prior to an official groundbreaking. “This destination will soon be alive with experience and interaction, and today’s guests are the first to feel this energy.” (Bradley is part-owner of the News + Record.)
Chatham Park’s developers announced another mixed-use development, called “Mellott,” in late November. The area will include more than 1,300 residential units across 190 acres in Pittsboro that will be bordered on three sides by Chatham Park and situated at the future intersection of Chatham Park Way and Grant Drive.
Mellott will also include, according to a Triangle Business Journal story, a hotel, offices, retail space and a 30-acre park to make up the development’s center.
What It Means
Alyssa Byrd, president of the Chatham Economic Development Corporation, said the massive wave of developments is good news for the county, primarily because of what it means for potential new businesses.
“Any kind of retail development is always driven by rooftops in a community, and the more that we can show the rooftops, the more we can bring in retail service-oriented business, and once you get that, you can really start drawing in other employers who see this as a place where they can live,” Byrd said. “You want to paint this as a picture where more people can come in here and live here and have a life.”
She said that life exists now, but most commute out of the county for work. By bringing more people to the area, which brings more retail and restaurants and services, companies will locate offices and shops here, which will bring more jobs to the county and give in-county jobs to people who live in Chatham.
“That’s the trend that we don’t think is going anywhere,” Byrd said. “People like to be within proximity of services and restaurants and retail, both within their home and their work. We think we’re certainly going to get some more headlines in 2020, capture attention from regional and state leaders with things going on here.”
The Chatham County government has already predicted a rise in property values over the next six months, with increases likely to come in the future with further development. LaMontagne said in his budget message that indicators of local economic growth — property tax base, building inspections, sales tax collections — have all been trending up in recent years.
“While the weather has slowed our growth in residential and commercial construction,” he wrote, “we are confident that projects currently in the pipeline will turn that around.”
All indications as of now are that the turnaround he wrote about is just around the corner.
Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.
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