Key steps in the project including opportunities for citizen input to date are summarized below.
The Downtown Chapel Hill Small Area Plan, adopted by the Council in 2000 after an extensive public participation process, identified development “opportunity areas,” including Town Parking Lot 2, at East Rosemary and South Columbia Streets, and Town Parking Lot 5, on West Franklin and Church Streets.
In early 2002, the Town held Design Workshops to provide the public the opportunity to sketch their ideas for key downtown sites, including Lots 2 and 5;the workshop ideas were summarized in the Summary Report presented to the Council on May 13, 2002.
On June 10, 2002, the Council formed the Council Committee on Lots 2 and 5 to review in greater detail options for proceeding with a project to develop the two parking lots.
On February 24, 2003, the Council adopted Principles and Priorities recommended by the Council Committee on Lots 2 and 5 and adopted a resolution directing the Town Manager to seek proposals for an economic development consultant to work with the Council and Staff on a process to potentially develop the sites.
On October 27, 2003, the Council, after a consultant search process, authorized the Manager to contract with Stainback Public/Private Real Estate.
On November 20, 2003, Stainback Public/Private Real Estate held an initial community meeting to begin planning for the project in the Post Office/Courthouse building downtown.
The Council Committee held several meetings from December 2003 through March 2004 on a market study for the project developed by Economic Research Associates.† At these meetings, citizens had the opportunity to review the report with the consultants, and provide input on uses they wanted to be considered for the land, building, and infrastructure program.
On March 22, 2004, the Council held a public forum on the findings of the market study by Economic Research Associates which forecast demand for apartments and retail space.
On April 14, 2004, the Council adopted a building program for Lots 2 and 5 and authorized proceeding with the development of conceptual master plans for both sites. The ERA study was used to establish the range of uses and amount of development in the building program.
On May 24, 2004, the Council held a public hearing on draft conceptual master plans developed by HKS, Inc., showing the potential arrangement and scale of buildings on Lots 2 and 5 as well as the Wallace parking deck and the adjacent parcel and the RBC-Centura Bank property at Columbia and Rosemary Streets. The Council Committee on Lots 2 and 5 recommended adding the Wallace Deck and RBC site to the project scope.
On June 14, 2004, the Council adopted a resolution outlining recommended development options to use as a conceptual guide by Mr. Stainback and the Council in determining the financial feasibility of the building program. On June 14 the Council authorized proceeding with the financial feasibility analysis phase.
On August 25, 2004, the Council Committee on Lots 2 and 5 received an initial report on financial feasibility by Mr. Stainback and discussed potential scenarios for developing the sites in terms of the order in which sites might be developed, the development schedule, and the impacts on parking.
On September 13, 2004, the Council Committee and Council reviewed Mr. Stainbackís revised draft financial feasibility report. A public forum on the report was held at the Council meeting at 7 p.m. that day.
On September 27, 2004 the Council held a second public forum on the consultantís draft financial analysis report.
On October 11, 2004 the Council Committee discussed design issues and options for the developer solicitation process, recommending a two-step process starting with the issuance of a Request for Qualifications followed by Request for Proposals.
On October 27, 2004, the Council held a forum to receive public comment, including whether to proceed with the developer solicitation process, the next phase of the project.
On November 4 and 5, 2005, the Council Committee held community information meetings in two sessions at the Chapel Hill Public Library.
On November 8, 2004 the Council authorized Stainback Public/Private Real Estate to draft the Request for Qualifications and an initial draft Request for Proposals for the Councilís consideration on December 6, 2004.
On November 22, 2004 the Council Committee reviewed the Request for Qualifications draft and initial outline of a draft Request for Proposals.
On December 6, 2004 the Council authorized issuing a Request for Qualifications to developers.
On January 11, 2005, the Council Committee held a pre-proposal conference for potential developers on the Request for Qualifications.† The public was invited to attend.† The event was cablecast as well.
The Town received six proposals from potential developers on January 31, 2005.† On February 28, 2005, the Council approved issuance of a Request for Proposals to five of the six developers, and approved the document on March 7, 2005.
Ram Development Company and Grubb Properties/Leyland Alliance responded by the May 2, 2005 deadline for submitting proposals.
On May 23, 2005, the Council held interviews with the two potential developers in a public meeting.† The event was cablecast as well.
On June 15, 2005, the Council authorized the Manager to conduct negotiations with Ram Development Company, and authorized Council Members Strom, Greene, and Hill to be on the Town Negotiating Team.† On June 27, the Council authorized an Exclusive Right to Negotiate with Ram Development Company until October 24, 2005.
The Council held design work sessions with Ram Development Company on June 20, June 29, August 18, and September 19, 2005.