Lloyd Property Comes to Carrboro Advisory Boards

Carrboro's joint advisory board on September 1 reviewed a concept plan for a large commercial development on 40 acres at the intersection of NC Highway 54 and Old Fayetteville Road. Residents of southern Orange County know the property as the Lloyd farm. Cows still roam what is one of the last large parcels of relatively undeveloped land in the town. What people may not know is that the southeastern portion of the property, across from Carrboro Plaza, is also the last remaining property in Carrboro zoned for large-scale commercial development.

The concept plan involves a shopping center anchored by a 50,000 to 55,000 sq ft grocery store. Carrboro Vision 2020 identifies the southeastern portion of the property as an opportunity for new commercial growth. Although the remainder of the site—which abuts Carol and James streets in the Plantation Acres neighborhood—is zoned for low- to moderate-density residential development, the concept plan proposes to extend intensive commercial zoning (known in the Carrboro Land Use Ordinance as the B-4 zoning district) over much of property.

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The Carrboro Planning Board unanimously adopted the following recommendations on September 15. (Click here to download the concept plan materials.)

General Comments

We agree with the developer that Carrboro needs more commercial space. As described in Carrboro Vision 2020 policy 3.3, and further specified on the town’s zoning map, “opportunities for new commercial growth exist...across from the Carrboro Plaza Shopping Center.”

The concept plan for the Lloyd property presents a design for a traditional suburban-style shopping center that gives priority to Highway 54 vehicular traffic and turns its back on the nearest neighbors. Yet, the Land Use Ordinance describes the B-4 zoning district as one that permits “higher buildings and increased density over that allowed in the B-3 zone. This zone is intended to create an attractive, concentrated business district."

Therefore, we urge the developer to adopt a mixed-use urban model for the core of the site, providing an enjoyable retail-oriented streetscape—interspersed with public amenities—that includes multiple levels of retail, office, and commercial uses, and possibly civic and residential space. Connections to adjacent neighborhoods should be attractive and inviting to pedestrians and bicyclists. The plan should provide substantial buffering to protect existing residential neighborhoods. We offer more specific recommendations below.

Site Design

Vision 2020 policy 2.22 states, “where development is deemed acceptable, there should be well defined dense development with areas of well preserved open space.” The concept plan for the Lloyd property strives to achieve the preservation component required but does not acknowledge that greater density can facilitate preservation of the site.
  • The Lloyd property has the potential to (1) serve as an attractive gateway to Carrboro that introduces visitors to the quality of architecture and pedestrian activity that we would like to see throughout the town; (2) act as both a commercial destination and a community space that allows for socializing and recreation; (3) encourage walkability for the surrounding residential areas; and (4) connect to existing neighborhoods, community spaces, and transit facilities.
  • We encourage the developer to concentrate the development on a node in the southeastern portion of the property. We recommend an interior streetscape flanked by two- to three-story buildings. We recommend that the developer abandon the concept of out parcels, incorporating that square footage instead into the major retail structures (going to two or more floors to do so). This approach could begin to suggest the kind of density in the interior of the property that might avoid a classic suburban-style site design—and still manage to preserve 40% or more of the existing open space.
  • The integrity of the nearby residential neighborhoods should not be compromised (Vision 2020 policy 4.52). The town’s zoning map shows an appropriate separation between the B-4 zone and the existing residential neighborhood on Carol Street. It is not appropriate to place a B-4 zone adjacent to an R-20 zone, unless the conditional use permit provides for substantial buffering.

Access and Transportation

Carrboro Vision 2020 policies 4.51 and 4.52 state that developers should prioritize bicycle and pedestrian access not only on the development site, but also in areas adjacent to the site. This approach can be exercised in several ways in the development of the Lloyd property.

  • Pedestrian and bicycle improvements are clearly needed for crossing Highway 54 from Main Street to Carrboro Plaza. Adding such enhancements will invite users of both shopping centers to walk from one site to the other and to take advantage of the ample parking at Carrboro Plaza, possibly reducing the demand for parking on the Lloyd property.
  • Vision 2020 states, "All shopping centers should be connected to residential areas with increased pedestrian access.” Bicycle and pedestrian paths, such as the Frances Lloyd Shetley Bikeway that links North Greensboro Street and Shelton Street, should be included wherever possible for interaction with the adjacent neighborhood. The concept plan’s suggestion of a path from Carol Street into the site is a good one. Also, consider an approach to security along this path such as one might find in a campus environment.
  • Carefully consider how pedestrian paths and amenities both internal and external to the site will be attractive and inviting for pedestrians.
  • Provide ample bicycle parking, including covered bicycle parking, near the primary entrances of buildings.
  • Provide one or more sheltered bus stops, and design the site to allow a Chapel Hill Transit route to come through the development.
  • Consider seeking a reduction in the required parking on the basis of access to public transportation and pedestrian traffic.
  • Carefully consider the traffic impacts of the development on surrounding residential streets. Carol and James streets especially may be used as vehicular cut-throughs by users of the development.
  • Address concerns about a vehicular connection from James Street. Explore reuse of the existing connection through the US Post Office property.

Uses

Honoring the needs of the neighborhood will be vital. These needs may include amenities beyond the commercial, retail, and office uses presently envisioned by the developer. Green spaces, a composting/recycling site (Vision 2020 policy 5.12), and inclusive recreational spaces may be useful examples. In addition, Vision 2020 policy 3.61 states, "While our citizens may not be able to meet all of their consumer needs in Carrboro, it is important that the town encourage the widest possible diversity of locally operated businesses. The objective is a balanced portrait of convenience..." This policy should influence how the development provides space for businesses that are not yet available in Carrboro and the adjacent neighborhood in particular.

  • Consider providing neighborhood amenities that complement larger commercial uses.
  • Consider incorporating social and recreational elements to diversify the uses of the site and to relate better to the adjacent neighborhood, including community spaces within the buffer areas.

Environment

  • Pursue strategies that reflect current trends in green design and construction, including but not limited to the strategies described in the Planning Board’s “Green and Sustainable Buildings Checklist,” provided as an attachment to this recommendation.
  • Have a certified arborist assess the site to determine which trees can and should be preserved and whether some trees are nearing the end of life and need not be hindrances to site planning and development.
  • Assess the streams/wetlands near the southeast of site to determine whether they can be removed or should be protected.

 

Total votes: 174

Comments

Good comments. The project looks like something that was dredged out of a development catalog and plopped onto the site map because it was about the right shape and size. I especially enjoy that the grocery store is far from most of the other buildings on the site, with no apparent way to safely walk from one sectino to another.

This shopping center can go out where it is zoned .(read zonning map)They are trying to get THE SHOPPING CENTER  put in a R  10 zone .Next to  R 20       zoned in 1965  as plantation acres .That land zoned R10(Lloyd  property ) came after When Carrboro annexed this part of town . Yes this was here before Carrboro .This was in Orange county .this is the issue ....Thanks Barney    

 

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