Chapel Hill, NC- Home to the University of North Carolina

Similar to Carrboro, its difficult to tease out what is urban and what is suburban In Chapel Hill. For this evaluation I used Carrboro as a western boundary, Umstead and Mill Race as the northern, the eastern edge of the Franklin-Rosemary Historic District, UNC to the south, and a pocket of pre-WWII development south of Franklin and west of UNC.

Chapel Hill is named after the hill it developed along and the site of a small Anglican church called the New Hope Chapel. The town was found in 1819 to serve the University of North Carolina . The community slowly grew and reached critical mass in 1880 with just over 800 people. By 1920 there were 1,500 residents and 3,650 by 1940. Growth exploded after WWII due to suburban sprawl and the growth of the university. Chapel Hill had 9,000 residents by 1950, 26K by 1970, and now hosts 64K souls thanks also to its location within the Raleigh-Durham metro and the job access propelled by I-40.

For southern standards this is a good urban environment. The university helps foster good density, ad a quality main street (Franklin St) which host good urban form, many quality mixed-use infill bldgs, many shops and cultural amenities. The City also has good public transit and bike access, decent schools and park amenities, and is generally pretty safe. Overall the core of Chapel Hill is a very comfortable environment for bikers and walkers. When one leaves the main street and enters the more residential areas, the urban form is hit or miss often missing ADA curbs and sidewalks. The density also drops in the Single family areas. Chapel Hill could also use more affordable for-sale and rental housing, a dwtn public library, and better access to non-UNC gyms.

Click here to view my Chapel Hill Album on Flickr. Here is for my UNC Album.


* Very convenient access to the major economic powerhouse of UNC, which includes 30K students and 12k jobs. But not great access to Dwtn Raleigh or Durham.
* Overall good public transit access.
* Decent bike infrastructure with several bike lanes and plenty of dedicated bike stations.
* Great economic and racial diversity.
* Generally very good urban in-fill mainly along Franklin, Chapel Hill’s main street. Some areas of parking lots and auto centric development, but most wholes have been filled in.
* Good amount of historic architecture in the residentials streets. Some of it is good others is pretty bland. Some historic remaining along Franklin St.
* High level of pedestrian activity esp. along Franklin.
* Like most college towns a good abound of thefts but violent crime is low.
* Great tree canopy here.
* A couple well rated schools within or near this evaluation area. Plenty are located in the fringes of Chapel Hill. School ratings always high.
* Chapel hills has their own Community Land Trust to offer affordable for-sale hsg.
* Good but not great park amenities including a rec center, pool & tennis courts, a couple playgrounds & basket ball courts, and the wooded Battle Park. Lots of green spaces at UNC but not necessarily open to the general public.
* Great cultural amenities including many restaurants, bars, breweries, cafes, live music/night clubs along Franklin St. There is also a historic theater, several performing arts theaters and museums at UNC, and a decent # of art galleries.
* Excellent retail amenities as well including a supermarket, several ethnic grocerias, an urban target, several drug stores, several boutiques, banks, and gift stores, a couple book stores, a hardware store, plenty of dessert stores, a dwtn post office, a decent # of churches, and great access to the UNC medical facilities.


* Decent density, esp. for a southern neighborhood.
* ADA infrastructure and sidewalks is quite good along the main street and core of Chapel Hill. Very spotty in the residential areas, even in pre-WWII fabric.
* Mixed connectivity. Good in the core of Dwtn. Lots of disconnected and curvilinear streets.
* Generational diversity pretty limited.
* Rental product is much more limited than I would expect in the City core given this is a college town. 1-beds lease anywhere in the1Ks, 2-beds generally around 2K, 3-beds around 3K.
* For sale is generally expensive but some moderate options available. 1-bed condos sell btwn 250-500K, 2-beds anywhere from 300K-850K depending on size & condition, 3 & 4 beds btwn 350- the low Ms.
* No dwtn public library and gyms are limited in central Chapel Hill.