Written by Tammy Grubb | TRIANGLE NEWS & OBSERVER
CHAPEL HILL — A downtown hotel owner wants to branch out with a six-story student apartment building just blocks from campus.
Jay Patel, founder of Wintergreen Hospitality and co-owner of The Franklin Hotel, submitted a concept plan for Franklin Student Housing in August for 55 student apartments on less than an acre at 106 Mallette St. The site, now a public and private parking lot, is located behind the hotel and across from Panera Bread.
The Town Council will get its first look at the plan Monday.
Patel said the development team already met as a group and individually with neighbors. The project site borders the Cameron-McCauley Historic District and several rental homes. Neighbors were curious about the plans, especially the building’s appearance, he said.
The 103,726-square-foot building would stretch east to Kenan Street and have two levels of parking underneath. One level would empty onto Mallette Street and the other onto Kenan Street. The primarily brick and sandstone exterior would be designed to match surrounding buildings.
The design could take its cues from the nearby 140 West Franklin building and The Franklin, he said.
It’s still too early to know how much the apartment rents would be. Residents would be charged per bedroom or by the potential tax value to the town, he said. The apartments could range in size from studio to four bedrooms.
The project is expected to meet a demand for off-campus student housing, especially downtown, but any interested residents will be welcome, Patel said. Some of the two-bedroom apartments could even work for families, he said.
- Name: Franklin Student Housing
- Location: 106 Mallette St.
- Developer: Wintergreen Hospitality
- Property Owner: DRE Investors
- Acres: 0.7
- Zoning: Town Center-2
- Square footage: 103,726
- Stories: 6
- Residential: 55 apartments
- Parking: Two levels under the building
- Current Tax Value: Roughly $1 million
The Community Design Commission reviewed the plan Sept. 18 and provided the developer with several suggestions, such as making the building a gateway to the historic district, placing a clear connection between the hotel and apartment building, and creating a step back at the second or third floor.
The developer is considering a payment into the town’s affordable housing fund, in addition to building a percentage of less-expensive rentals. Patel said they will seek a more dense development plan because the site is otherwise too narrow to be profitable.
The Patels are Carolina graduates who also own and operate Hampton Inn hotels in Selma and Lumberton. Patel still lives in Chapel Hill; his brother, Anup Patel, lives in Durham.
“To do something like this is exciting for us,” he said. “We’re not sure how it will work out.”