UNC Plans to Build Below-Market Housing

After many years of discussions and planning, UNC’s Carolina Commons below-market housing plan is starting the long process of becoming a reality.

Carolina Commons would offer UNC faculty and staff single-family town homes and condominium homes at below-market rates on a 63-acre tract in Carrboro that the University owns. The off-campus housing development is a first for the University.

“This project has been in people’s minds for some quite some time and I think it really comes out of the need for a housing price that doesn’t really exist in the community right now,” said Mary Jane Nirdlinger, project manager in facilities planning.

The hope for the project is that the financial component combined with the neighborhood’s proximity to campus will attract talented faculty and provide them with affordable and convenient housing.

The proposal calls for 166 dwelling units, including single-family, town home and condominium units. Seventeen of the units would be sold at market rate to help subsidize the below-market units. The site, which is bisected by Bolin Creek in northwest Carrboro, has been owned by the University since 1940.

Nirdlinger expects the town, public and University review processes to take about a year.

The homes and landscaping of Carolina Commons will be designed to be environmentally sustainable and as green as possible. The project plan has been submitted for review by the town.

Nirdlinger said no prices for the houses have been set, and that the biggest challenge is the conflict between making affordable, yet environmentally sustainable housing.

“The target is below-market prices, but the market shifts over time,” Nirdlinger said. “We’ll be looking at actual prices when we get further into the process. It’s an exciting project. We just want to make sure we do it right.”

– Beth Mechum

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