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UNC offers three scenarios for Carolina North

By Kirk Ross
Staff Writer

Three new words have entered the lexicon in the saga of Carolina North. So get ready for the definition and the ensuing conversation about Centers, Interwoven and Grid.

University planners revealed three initial plans—the preferred term is scenarios—for Carolina North at the first of a series of public meetings on the possibilities for the 963-acre parcel.

Jack Evans, executive director of the university’s Carolina North effort, said the scenarios are each meant to emphasize a design strategy. They’re intended to start a discussion about the different approaches.

The university intends to have a final plan ready for review by th UNC Board of Trustees by late summer, Evans said. A final vote by the trustees is expected in September and a presentation to the town for review in October.

Even with a quick glance at each concept for Carolina North, it’s obvious that one thing is missing: an airport. Last week, the Board of Trustees agreed on a plan for construction at Raleigh Durham International Airport of a 21,000 square-foot hanger and offices that will be home to the school’s Medical Air Operations, which flies mainly for the statewide Area Health Education Centers program. Moving AHEC has long been a contentious issue.

Concerns about AHEC along with a strong lobbying effort by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association derailed efforts in 2002 to close the airport.

But with a new hanger on the way for AHEC, the end of flights out of Horace Williams is on the horizon.

Scenarios

At Tuesday’s meeting, the first up-close look at the three possible scenarios for Carolina North were accompanied by three explanations of what might be located within the development.

So while three groups stood around posters of what things might look like, they got an explanation from the School of Pharmacy about new drug therapies and UNC spin-offs, a presentation from the Renaissance Computing Institute about outpatient home monitoring and new storm forecasting and the UNC Institute for the Environment about a community carbon reduction project and energy research.

What the three plans have in common is that they each disturb roughly 250 acres of land and focus development along the flat airport land and the area near Martin Luther King Boulevard now occupied by the town’s public works department. All three plans also make use of the rail corridor that runs along Seawell School Road.

Two of the plans, Centers and Grid, concentrate development closer to Estes Drive Extension and the airport land. The other, Interwoven, shows a road network and development extending north through the site.

The three concepts, along with public comments on them, will be available on the university’s Carolina North Web site carolinanorth.unc.edu.

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