Carrboro, NC- A Progressive Community Located on the doorstep of Chapel Hill

Hard to nail down exactly what is urban Carrboro and what’s suburban. I did my best using Davie Rd as a western border, Main/Shelton as the northern, the Chapel Hill as the eastern and Jones Ferry/Carrboro as the southern.

The history of Carrboro is similar to the history of many North Carolina mill towns and largely parallels the histories of the University of North Carolina. Located just west of Chapel Hill, Carrboro was originally known as West End. It was settled in 1882 near the terminus of the railway because the state had a law that railroads had to be at least 1 mile from a university campus “to guard against possible damage to student morals and habits of study,” Most, however, viewed this as an attempt to keep students from leaving for weekend excursions. The town remained small until a 1920s building boom grew it to 1,500 residents in 1940. With the combined forces of suburban sprawl and student population growth Carrboro exploded after WWI reaching over 5K residents in 1970 and now has just over 21K souls. Current day Carrboro has a reputation as one of the most progressive communities in the Southeastern United States.

Like must successful southern urban environments Carrboro excels at retail and cultural amenities and is filled with many shops, food & beverage businesses, and live music. But the urban form is lacking largely due to its small pre-WW II population. There are still lots of surface parking lots and businesses set back from the street in the core dwtn area. Density is also low and ADA and sidewalk infrastructure is hit or miss. But there have been efforts to create a better urban environment with the creation of bike lanes and stations and quality urban mixed-use in-fill. Hopefully this trend can continue.

Click here to view my Carrboro Album on Flickr


* Decent access to Downtown Durham via car and worse access to Downtown Raleigh. Carrboro, however, is only 1.5 miles from the University of NC with its 30K students and 12 k jobs.
* Good bike infrastructure with a solid bike lane system and bike stations in the works.
* Great economic diversity and good racial.
* Great tree canopy.
* Generally a pretty safe community but some crime likely due to the large student population here.
* Overall good historic architecture especially in the core of Dwtn. Fair amount of good urban in-fill but plenty of autocentric infill too.
* Pretty good vibrancy and def. plenty of local buzz.
* Walkable access to several quality public elementary schools. Middle and high schools are just outside of walkable access.
* Rentals are pretty moderately priced with a decent amount of product.. 1-beds lease in the low-mid 1Ks, 2-beds in the low-mid 1Ks,m 3-beds mid 1Ks-2K.
* Carrboro and Chapel Hill have a Community Land Trust, model for aff for-sale hsg.
* Great cultural amenities including many bars, restaurants, & cafes, several live music venues and night clubs, a performing arts center, and lots of art galleries. Decent access to cultural amenities in neighboring Chapel Hill.
* Quality retail amenities as well including a supermarket, several ethnic grocerias, a butcher shop, a couple drug stores, a hardware store, several boutiques & consignment stores, several antique and home good stores, plenty of banks, a toy store. lots of gift stores, several gyms, plenty of dessert shops, a dwtn public library, several churches, and good access to the UNC hospitals 1-2 miles aways.


* Density is pretty poor for an urban district.
* ADA Infrastructure and sidewalks are pretty hit or miss outside of the main Dwtn area.
* Public transit access is so  .
* Street connectivity is hit or miss. A decent grid in the core of Dwtn but plenty of disconnected and curvilinear streets.
* Being a college town, not a ton of households w/ families and def a younger crowd.
* Park amenities are pretty limited including a couple small parks and short bike greenway segment in the core of Carrboro. But there is a large recreation center in the center of town.
* Urban form and streetscape is also a pretty mix bag. The form of Dwtn is mostly good but plenty of surface lots and set back bldgs mixed in. Streetscape is similar.
* For sale hsg is on the expensive side but not terrible. 2-beds generally sell btwn 250K-650K, 3 & 4 beds btwn 350K-850K. 1-bed options are very limited.
* Lots of more affordable rental product seems to be on the outskirts of town unfortunately.