UNC

Dorm Closures and the Chapel Hill Housing Market

I was surprised to read this headline in the Daily Tar Heel today: "University closed Stacy and Everett due to low housing enrollment." But maybe I shouldn't have been.

Stacy and Everett residence halls combined house 189 students, but this year, only 135 signed up to live there. The two dorms will be repurposed for the 2015-16 school year.
 

Rick Bradley, associate director of housing and residential education, cited the expansion of new apartment communities and a lack of desirable amenities in student housing for the loss in enrollment.
 

“It’s not uncommon for a 9,000-bed operation like us to have 200 or so vacancies. That became our standard: 98 percent occupancy. In fall 2014, that 300 became 500, so the concern rose,” Bradley said.
 

“When that 500 empty spaces last fall now looks like it’ll be 800 this fall, we are opening at about a little over 90 percent occupancy. Our awareness has now been heightened.”

Building the "Chapel Hill" Brand

This commentary, written by me and fellow OP editor Molly De Marco, originally appeared in the Chapel Hill News on July 26, 2015.

Chapel Hill has a branding problem. There, we said it – and we said it because it’s time for us to have a frank and honest discussion about just exactly what Chapel Hill is and who we are as Chapel Hillians.

Far too often these days, it’s common for people to compare Chapel Hill to Durham or even Raleigh. But the fact is that we’re not Durham and we’re not Raleigh – and more importantly, we’re not competing with Durham or Raleigh.

Rather, as one of the nation’s leading and most desirable college towns, we’re competing with towns and cities across the country with major research universities, like Ann Arbor, Bloomington, Athens, and Austin.

Acknowledging this is the first step toward developing a Chapel Hill brand and using it to attract the individuals, businesses, and opportunities that will make Chapel Hill a unique regional and national leader.

Planning Tomorrow's Urban Neighborhoods Today

Last week, you might have read a Gizmodo article about how millennials will live in cities unlike anything we've ever seen before. If you haven't read it yet, I highly encourage you to, because, unlike so many articles in the media today, this one does an excellent job of capturing the nuances of why we are seeing certain behavioral patterns among millennials when it comes to where we live.

The critical takeaway from this article is one that has major implications for us in Chapel Hill/Carrboro: Millennials are choosing to live in urban neighborhoods, but not necessarily in urban downtowns.

This behavioral pattern shows that what millennials value is not the big city life itself, but having easy access to amenities like walkability and public transit. For suburbs around the country, this means attracting the next generation of Americans requires urbanizing to provide these kind of amenities.

Maintain and Expand Access to Early Voting in Orange County

I've been a strong advocate for early voting locations and hours in Orange County that provide adequate access for all Orange County residents in my time as a student and council member in Chapel Hill. I'm sharing below my open letter to the Board of Elections as they make decisions this week about early voting locations for this fall. Interested in making your voice heard about early voting? They'll be meeting tomorrow (July 21st) at the Board of Elections in Hillsborough at noon to determine early voting hours and locations for this fall. 

Dear Orange County Board of Elections,

 

As you consider potential early voting locations and hours for the 2015 election, I wanted to offer some thoughts and recommendations. As always, thank you for your thoughtful approach to and deliberative process in setting an early voting calendar.

 

Sunday Open Thread: 36 Hours in Chapel Hill-Carrboro

In case you missed it (in the event that all of your Facebook friends didn't post it), the New York Times posted a "36 Hours in Chapel Hill-Carrboro" video and piece last week. The video features several local restaurants and bars, including Al's Burger Shack, ONE Restaurant, the Baxter Bar & Arcade, Neal's Deli, among others, and local attractions like the NC Botanical Gardens, Ackland Art Museum, and the Carolina Basketball Museum.

The editors of OrangePolitics thought the video was superb and truly highlighted some of the best food, drinks, and attractions in our community. But we did want to ask you: What do you think the NY Times missed that is a must-see if you're just dropping in for a few days? Let us know in the comments.

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