Aydan Court

I stayed up late last night to see whether the planets had aligned, or at least be awake to see what would happen next after Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and council member Matt Czajkowski appeared to be on the same side of a growth and development issue.

Zinn Design Build presented a preliminary plan for Aydan Court, a residential development proposed for a nearly 6-acre parcel off N.C. 54 in Durham County, just behind UNC’s Paul Rizzo Center in Meadowmont. The area abuts the Waterfowl Impoundment area, and when the Zinn team presented a preliminary proposal to Town Council in March of last year, then-Mayor Kevin Foy had a strongly negative reaction to it and lashed out at developer Carol Ann Zinn.

But last night’s presentation was to a different council. The seven council members on the dais – Gene Pease and Penny Rich were absent – for the most part exhibited a sense of playing as a team. And when citizens spoke out against development being so close to the impoundment area, Kleinschmidt let them know that the Zinn property would be developed in some manner; it would not remain open land.

The project Zinn proposed last night consists of three three-story condo buildings with a total of 87 units built over underground parking. The units are geared toward the middle market.

Council members’ main concern was siting the project as far away from the impoundment area as possible. Council member Ed Harrison suggested building fewer buildings but making them taller. That would make the units pricier, however, because a four-story building would require two levels of parking and require that the buildings be framed in steel instead of wood. And Zinn, a savvy businesswoman, has a good read of the market. Consumers seem to be more cautious with their spending, and she predicts less demand for high-priced housing.

“The last thing this town wants is another high-rise luxury condo building at an entry point to Chapel Hill,” Zinn said.

Czajkowski noted that to work together, there must be tradeoffs. That’s why Zinn was up at dawn this morning preparing for early-morning meetings with her design and construction team about how to make the council happy.

“We want to do the best we can to satisfy as many of the council’s and citizens’ concerns as possible,” Zinn said.
– Nancy Oates

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1 Comment

  1. Ed Harrison

     /  June 17, 2010

    Nancy, you are incorrect. It was Laurin Easthom who suggested reducing the number of buildings and making them taller. Speaking after Laurin, I suggested an alternate site layout which would be more compact and pulled back from the public land boundary, for a number of reasons, including some suggested a number of times over the past 3 1/2 years by that land’s owner, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (an actual Division of the Army,with a Brigadier General). In my analysis (which in this case is also a professional opinion) the current layout disturbs almost all of the land outside of the stream and floodplain buffers. I was pleased today to be contacted by one of Ms. Zinn’s consultants for more information onand further discussion of my alternative. The more compact layout could be achieved by modifying the parking, among other things, with or without changing the number of buildings and number of stories in them. Along with all other Council members, I am assuming fully that she will develop the land. I don’t believe that the number of units (92) is justified by regional transit, at least not in this decade. It apparently is justified by her own economic calculations.
    The concept plan process was originally requested by development applicants to get a read from the Council before filing a formal application. That’s what the Council was attempting to give Ms. Zinn last night.
    By the way, “middle market” very likely translates to about $400k per condo unit.

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