There is a significant lack of high-quality affordable rental housing in and around Chapel Hill. Around 49% of households in Chapel Hill are renter households. Of those households, about 58% are “rent burdened,” meaning they pay more than 30% of their income towards rent, making it difficult to pay for other necessary items. Among households earning less than 30% of the Area Median Income (AMI), 91% are rent burdened.

Because of high barriers to entry (long municipal approvals, NIMBYism, high land prices, among others), very few truly affordable communities have been constructed in Chapel Hill. Affordable housing is considered housing that primarily serves residents earning 60% of the AMI or less and is maintained as affordable for at least 30 years. Other communities in the Triangle have responded by recognizing the lack of affordable housing and the social impact this causes in their communities, and by consistently supporting and approving the construction of hundreds of new affordable housing units annually. Chapel Hill is hoping to do the same by supporting projects like the one proposed at Jay Street.

In November 2019 Town Council authorized the Town Manager to identify a development partner for the Jay Street site and begin negotiating a development contract.  The following month, staff issued a Request for Qualifications (Bid Q20-100) for affordable housing development services.  Six development teams submitted responses and after a preliminary review, staff selected four of those teams for further consideration.  An inter-departmental evaluation team assessed the remaining proposals and served on an interview panel for each of the four developer candidates.

Ultimately, the evaluation team’s partner selection was informed by the RFQ responses, the interview, communication with external references provided, and a rubric that considered the development team’s qualifications, the development proposal, and financial capacity. The Taft-Mills Group (TMG), including its proposed co-developer Community Home Trust, stood out based on their qualifications, proposal, and financial capacity, and demonstrated the most experience successfully developing comparable affordable housing projects in North Carolina.

Affordable Housing staff recommended the selection of TMG to the Town Manager and Council in July 2020.

Around 49% of households in Chapel Hill are renter households. Of those households, about 58% are “rent burdened,” meaning they pay more than 30% of their income towards rent, making it difficult to pay for other necessary items. To address the gap in available housing for low-income households in Chapel Hill, both rental and homeownership housing is needed.

The cost to construct single family homes in Chapel Hill often exceeds a price point that would be deemed affordable by many. In addition, home ownership often requires significant cash down payments, a monthly mortgage that is higher than alternative rental options and operating expenses like taxes, and insurance. With these added costs, homeownership may not be the best housing option for all households.

The proposed Jay Street development will serve 48 households who will, without a doubt, benefit from having a safe, high-quality, and affordable home in which to reside.

The proposed project includes units that will be affordable primarily to households that make at or below 30% to 80% of Orange County’s Area Median Income (AMI). This means that households earning between $18,600 and $70,560 annually will occupy the units (based on 2021 ACS data). The proposed development will remain affordable for the foreseeable future.

North Carolina state law prohibits the Town from implementing rent control. State law does not allow any county or city to regulate the amount of rent to be charged for private property.

This project is in the very preliminary stages and, as a result, rents are subject to change. However, as presently proposed, rents will likely range from $365 to $1,150 monthly.  A mix of 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom units will be proposed, and those units will range from approximately 803 to 1,168 square feet.

The proposed entry would provide ingress/egress along the straight section of Jay Street shortly after the curve closest to the cemetery.  Vehicular traffic leaving the community would have access to Estes Drive by turning left out of the community and following Village Drive to Estes Drive.  Alternatively, a right onto Village Drive (from Jay Street) would provide access to Estes Drive via Umstead Drive.

No ingress/egress will be provided at the dead-end section of Jay Street.  Furthermore, the proposed development’s entry point on Jay Street will be designed and constructed based on the Town of Chapel Hill municipal standards.

Yes, a traffic impact analysis (TIA) was commissioned by the Town of Chapel Hill and completed in November 2021.  The study assessed the potential impact of the proposed development on traffic volume in and around the proposed site. The report is posted on the Town’s Planning Department’s project webpage. The TIA concluded that while the project will generate additional trips in the study area, the additional site-generated trips do not cause “deficient traffic operations” for the intersections studied at any peak hour. In addition, the proposed improvements to Jay Street, which were recommended by the TIA and designed to meet the Town’s design guidelines, will help the thoroughfare to absorb any additional traffic generated.

The Jay Street site is designated medium residential, which is 4-8 dwelling units per acre. At approximately 6 dwelling units per acre, the project as proposed meets the requirements for medium residential.

The Town assembled a Task Force on Strategic Uses of Town Properties in 2017 to conduct an evaluation of Town-owned properties and recommend guidelines to use when considering proposals for the use and/or sale of these properties. The four Town-owned parcels on Jay Street were included in this evaluation. The recommendation for the Jay Street parcels includes developing affordable housing on the smaller parcels and maintaining the larger parcel as open space due to potentially difficult access to the site. The Task Force presented their preliminary recommendations and findings to the Chapel Hill Town Council on June 26, 2017.  At that meeting, Council accepted the reportauthorized the Town Manager to prepare a report describing how to implement specific recommendations, and dissolved the Task Force.

Based on Council’s priority to develop new affordable housing, an inter-departmental team of Town staff formed a working group in 2018 tasked with identifying properties that would be suitable options for developing affordable housing. The working group used a strategic multi-layered approach to analyze public properties that met the following conditions: at least 3 acres in size, within 100 feet of water and sewer connections, and within the Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools District. The team then considered each remaining site’s suitability specifically for affordable housing development by evaluating them based on the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency Low Income Housing Tax Credit program scoring criteria.  The Jay Street site met all these criteria and scored well on the tax credit criteria.

The working group’s last point of consideration was to look at existing plans and recommendations for the sites, including the 2017 Town Properties Task Force recommendations.  While the Task Force did not initially recommend the site for affordable housing development, additional analysis of the site from the working group, an engineering firm, and developers have shown that there are possibilities to accommodate access concerns that may not have been considered fully at the time of the Task Force’s recommendations.

On June 20, 2018, staff presented their analysis and recommendations to Council, and Council prioritized the sites as affordable housing sites and authorized staff to pursue development of affordable housing on these sites.

Absolutely!  It is highly likely that our proposed development will also have residents with children.  It is of utmost importance that we provide safe passage for all children who walk to school in the area. The proposed site plan includes the construction of a new sidewalk running along Jay St. from Village Dr. to the site entrance, a sidewalk network within the site, as well as the construction of a paved, ADA-accessible connection from the site to the Tanyard Branch Trail on the southeastern edge of site plan. So the proposed plans will allow for a continuous pedestrian connection from Village Drive to the Tanyard Branch greenway trail.

Based on the recommendation of the TIA, we are proposing a sidewalk along Jay Street from the site entrance to the corner of Jay Street and the south side of Village Drive. We are willing to investigate extending the sidewalk to the bus stop on the south side of Village Drive, but will need to first coordinate with the Town of Chapel Hill Transportation and Engineering Divisions to determine feasibility. We will also need to assess the financial implications to the project.

The Jay Street site is currently served by the following schools:

  • Northside Elementary School
  • Smith Middle School
  • Chapel Hill High School

According to Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools (CHCCS) data for 2020-21, the CHCCS school district is under capacity for all school levels.  To assist in predicting changes in future enrollment, the Town coordinates with CHCCS on estimating the number of students a proposed residential development will generate.  CHCCS is required to approve a Certificate of Adequate Public Schools (CAPS) before the project can begin construction.

We have paid particular attention to providing sufficient parking on-site and feel that the proposed parking plan strikes a balance between concern about parking spillover into the surrounding community and minimizing impervious surface on the site. 

The plan that we have provided to the Town of Chapel Hill presently shows 100 spaces for 48 units, including 7 spaces for the community building.  This represents just shy of two spaces per residential unit which, based on the many other communities in our portfolio, is sufficient to discourage parking outside of our community.  The North Carolina Housing Finance Agency’s standard for parking is 1.75 spaces per unit, which we presently exceed,  and we have submitted a modification request to the Town to exceed the maximum allotted parking spaces. If parking from residents outside of our community becomes a problem, which we believe is highly unlikely, the on-site property manager will address the issue accordingly. 

This option was previously investigated, but due to other concerns regarding noise from vehicles and headlights shining across to Village West, the current layout was preferred. The ADA residents in Building A will still have easy access to the Community Building, with a dedicated pedestrian route.

Yes, the bus stop on Village Drive is 400 feet (0.075 miles) from the site. This far surpasses the maximum threshold (0.25 miles) used by the North Carolina Finance Agency to score Low Income Housing Tax Credit project applications. We are proposing to improve the existing bus stop on Village Dr. to include a cover.

There is also a bus stop for a second bus line on Caldwell St, about 0.3 miles down the Tanyard Branch Trail from the trail connection proposed on the southeastern edge of the site plan.

The Town requires that a developer construct a cover on one bus stop near the proposed site entrance. As such, we are currently proposing to install a covered shelter for the stop on the north side of Village Drive.

Since the original Concept Plan design that was presented and approved by the Town Council, we have looked at several other options for the layout and configuration of the site. The original plan had the access drive aisle very close to the properties at the southern end of Jay St. However, due to the constraints of the site topography and the narrow width of the development parcel between the railroad and the eastern boundary, there was not much room for adjustment. There is a Greenway Easement and buffer to the west that we must also preserve. During the Site Plan development design process, we shifted the drive aisle over to provide as much separation as possible between the proposed drive and the adjoining properties at this location. With this shift, we have been able to preserve some of the existing trees nearest to eastern property line boundary and the remaining buffer area up to the new curb of the drive will be planted with landscaping both above and below the retaining wall.

We recognize the uniqueness of the area in which the Jay Street parcel is located. Taft-Mills Group and Community Home Trust take pride in coming up with plans that utilize buffers, tree save measures and low-density design.

The development, as proposed, is approximately 6.5 units per acre which is consistent or slightly less than the density of other communities surrounding the proposed site.  As was the case when developments like Village West were originally constructed, the removal of trees will be necessary to accommodate the proposed development. However, while the Jay Street parcel is 7 acres, the proposed development would impact less than 50% of the wooded land. You can consult the site planto see the specific impact nearest your home.  In designing the site, we have made a concerted effort to minimize the number of trees that would need to be removed.  We will also abide by the Town of Chapel Hill’s municipal requirements as it pertains to natural buffers separating our property from neighboring properties.

As proposed, the placement of the buildings and parking were designed to minimize the footprint of the site and maintain as much tree coverage as possible. Currently, approximately 50% of the site will remain undisturbed. Our team is committed to meeting or exceeding the Town of Chapel Hill’s buffer requirements along all sides of the property and we are exploring landscaping options that will maximize the visual appeal of the site which includes preserving existing trees and incorporating new trees and shrubbery with native species. All landscaping will be esthetically compatible with that of the surrounding neighborhoods and will include a variety of trees and native plants.

We don’t anticipate any unnecessary cutting down of trees outside of the area reflected in the site plan provided as part of the conditional zoning process.  Some of the existing trees will need to be cleared north of the site to allow for the widening of Jay Street and the construction of a sidewalk. This will include the trees closest to the existing Jay Street pavement that are within the existing 20 foot wide public street and utility right-of-way.  All threes located on the Village West HOA property will remain.

All proposed plantings will be located on the development parcel, inside of the property lines.  The greenway easement is within the property lines and is currently wooded.

The greenway easement is 30 feet wide from the edge of the railroad right-of-way and the required landscape buffer is 20 feet wide from the right-of-way. So, 20 feet of the buffer overlaps with the Greenway easement.

This plant is listed on the approved plant list from the Town of Chapel Hill Design Manual. There are several varieties available. We will work with Town Planning staff to investigate to be sure that the variety proposed is not poisonous, or if there is preferred planting option to pursue as a replacement.

As proposed, the placement of the buildings and parking were designed to minimize the footprint of the site and maintain as much tree coverage as possible. Currently, approximately 51% of the site will remain undisturbed. Our team is committed to meeting or exceeding the Town of Chapel Hill’s buffer requirements along all sides of the property and we are exploring landscaping options that will maximize the visual appeal of the site which includes preserving existing trees and incorporating new trees and shrubbery with native species. All landscaping will be esthetically compatible with that of the surrounding neighborhoods.

Any construction firm that is selected to build the proposed project is required to abide by all municipal and state environmental standards during the entire construction phase.

All modern construction is required to have storm water design that is engineered to address storm water runoff based on local and state standards. The stormwater management plan, which has been reviewed by Town stormwater staff, will improve current conditions, and prevent the added impervious surfaces from creating new runoff by capturing, discharging, and slowly sending water runoff into the creek downhill from the site.

No, all on-site stormwater will be treated within the project limits, prior to being released. The discharge will be released outside of the Resource Conservation District Buffers.

Prior to construction, we will conduct environmental site assessments as well as geotechnical studies as part of the due diligence process.

The site plan does not propose any disturbance to the RCD, except for the proposed Greenway Trail Connection. Per the Chapel Hill LUMO, Greenways Trails are an allowed use in the RCD and the associated disturbed area is exempt.

As proposed, the Jay Street Development will have two dumpsters and a recycling bin.  We try to locate the dumpsters in areas that are farthest away from the entrance in an effort to discourage non-resident use.  In addition, our on-site management team is tasked with monitoring dumping activity and reporting any non-resident that they observe to local officials.  In instances where we notice that dumpsters are reaching capacity sooner than expected, our policy is to work with the vendor to increase pick-ups.  While trash is always tough to manage, we feel like the structure that we will have in place will minimize any negative impact on the surrounding community as well as provide a clean and convenient area for our residents to dispose of trash.

The proposed site plan is on Town land south of the cemetery and does not propose to impact the cemetery.However, the project is proposing to construct off-site improvements to widen Jay Street and add a sidewalk along its eastern side. The proposed street widening does not expect to disturb any of the existing cemetery, and there is no current evidence of unmarked graves outside of the existing cemetery. We have previously engaged an engineer that used an underground GPR antenna to review the area for unmarked graves. The engineer will review the area in question again once some of the trees are cleared to assure the findings remain the same.

The current proposed site amenities include a computer/business center, exercise facility, playground and tot lot, resident event center, centralized laundry with each unit having a washer and dryer hookup, indoor and outdoor seating areas and covered patio, and an exterior storage area and balcony on each unit. The proposed development will not have a pool.

The proposed site plan abides by the Town of Chapel Hill’s municipal requirements as it pertains to buffers separating our property from neighboring properties.

The distance between the parcels that run along Jay Street to the east of the project site and the edge of the proposed parking or driveway varies between 18 to 32 ft. The distance between the right-of-way of Jay Street and the proposed northern Building A, is 38-39 ft.

All proposed lighting will be in accordance with the Town of Chapel Hill Land Use Management Ordinance standards. We will investigate the best pole height option to use with full cutoff fixtures for the least amount of offsite illumination. The Ordinance requires that there be no more than 0.3 footcandles of light at the property line.

This is an option that we will consider with the final design of the buffer landscaping. The current plan meets the requirements of the UDO, but additional evergreen plantings could be considered for more protection along Jay Street.

The railroad line that is located adjacent to the Jay Street property is owned and operated by Norfolk Southern Railway Company (NS). Per NS’s most recent inventory report (dated 4/1/21), only one destination train crosses this track during daytime hours (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and no activity is scheduled during evening hours (6 p.m. to 6 a.m.). In addition, the speed of the one daily train is estimated by NS to be approximately 5-10 mph. As a result, minimal daytime (and no nighttime) interruption is anticipated pertaining to the proposed development and no additional impact to the existing community is expected.

It is not uncommon for development to be located in close proximity to an existing rail line. In fact, Estes Park Apartments and some of the homes in the Village West community are located within similar proximity to the rail line when compared to where the proposed Jay Street development will be situated. Taft-Mills Group has several multi-family properties in our portfolio that are adjacent to rail lines, each of which has significantly higher daily volume than the Jay Street line, and we have had no issues with leasing those units.

The contractor expects to conduct work during normal business hours as allowed by the Town. In an effort to manage noise levels on/around the site, the developer will work with the contractor to schedule ingress/egress of heavy equipment to avoid extended periods of noise during the early stages of site work. In addition, throughout the entire construction phase, the developer will provide regular updates through a neighborhood-appointed liaison so that adjacent property owners will have a clear understanding/expectation of what work is ongoing on-site as construction progresses.

Construction fencing will be installed around the perimeter of the property during construction. This temporary fencing is typically 6’-8’ in height.

The project entered the Town’s development review process in March 2021, with the submission of a concept plan. The Town’s review process follows a long timeline with many opportunities for input from the community. By the time we get to the Council public hearing tentatively scheduled for April 23, we will have hosted or participated in 22 public meetings.

The development team submitted a development application in December 2021, which has been reviewed by Town staff from many departments (e.g., Fire, Planning, Stormwater, Parks and Recreation, etc.). It will be reviewed by five different resident advisory boards who will make recommendations for Council to consider when it votes on whether to approve the requested rezoning on April 27. If the project is approved, the development team must then gather additional materials and information to apply for a Zoning Compliance Permit that certifies a project has been approved for construction.

If you have any questions regarding the project, please feel free to contact Taft Mills Group at (252) 916-2691 or by email at You can also submit your questions here.

In addition, we continue to hold public meetings to provide updates and gather feedback on the project.  A list of upcoming meetings can be found here. You can also check the Town of Chapel Hill Calendar for more information on these meetings and instructions on how to register.

You can submit questions or feedback on the project website:

We will attempt to respond to all questions directly.  Questions received that have not previously been included in this FAQ section will be added for the benefit of all future visitors to the site.

In addition, in Winter/Spring 2022, the development team will be launching a series of community feedback surveys to gather input from potential residents and key stakeholders on key features of the community.

Throughout the design phases of the project, our team will actively engage with neighbors in an effort to come up with a plan for the proposed project that seeks to minimize neighbor concerns and allows citizens to have an opportunity to provide input.  All input will be strongly considered, and our team will make every effort to incorporate as many ideas as possible as we move through the design process.