UNC Enters Housing Business to Temper Market for Staff

Housing for UNC faculty and staff is in the works on 63 acres of land on Homestead Road, marking the University’s first attempt to help with lower-cost housing.

Carolina Commons will provide 60 condominium units to UNC employees. Roughly 53 of the units will be single-family detached homes, and 35 will be town homes. The project is designed to address concerns that many faculty and staff cannot afford to buy homes in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

“We’d like to address a mix of incomes,” said Dwayne Pinkney ’01 (PhD), assistant vice chancellor for finance and administration. A groundbreaking could come in the next two years.

The homes will be priced at 20 percent below market value, said Bruce Runberg, associate vice chancellor for facilities planning and construction. Because UNC owns the land through the school’s endowment, it can price the houses below market value.

UNC also can buy that land back from homeowners should they choose to sell it. Alternatively, property could be sold to other qualified buyers, Pinkney said.

“There’s an ownership interest that UNC would always maintain, which keeps the prices of the homes down,” Pinkney said.

In accordance with Carrboro’s town ordinance, 15 percent of all units in subdivisions are reserved as affordable housing. The sales price is roughly $142,000, said Marty Roupe, the development review administrator for Carrboro.

The project also is raising the question of whether retired University employees would be eligible for the spaces. The idea has been posed to Chancellor James Moeser.

More University involvement in creating low-cost housing may be seen in the future. “There’s been a great deal of talk about housing at Carolina North,” Pinkney said, referring to the roughly 1,000-acre expansion campus now occupied in part by Horace Williams Airport.

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