More housing is on its way to downtown Chapel Hill.
The Town Council unanimously approved the Shortbread Lofts, a 7-story, apartment complex on West Rosemary Street Monday night, saying it will bring more people downtown and offer more rental opportunities for residents.
The vote was 7-0, Council member Donna Bell was absent and Council member Laurin Easthom excused herself from the vote because her husband's law firm represented the developers.
Shortbread Lofts will include 85 apartments, 121 parking spaces and a first floor of retail.
Mayor Pro Tem Ed Harrison said the Shortbread Lofts supplements new downtown buildings like the 10-story Greenbridge and the under-construction 8-story 140 West condominiums.
"I think all those add up in making this a 52 week 24-hour downtown. That's what I like the most about this project," he said.
The council criticized the project in January for its dark, mustard yellow color, and flat, modern facade, and asked developers to come back with a better design.
Developers presented changes to their design Monday and said the lofts would have more dimension and variation in how far it is setback from the sidewalk.
The buildings have more texture with possible brick but would largely include a corrugated metal like exterior. Developers said they were open to colors other than yellow that would be more of an accent
Each storefront on the first floor could look similar to the fronts of the Carolina Coffee shop on East Franklin Street, according to the plan.
Council member Penny Rich applauded the modern design, but Council member Matt Czajkowski questioned how new downtown buildings like the Shortbread Lofts are changing the look of downtown.
"We are unequivocally reshaping the appearance of downtown," he said. "The fundamental question is, how are we reshaping downtown what is it going to look like?"
The developer would pay $25,000 to the town to be given to Empowerment to add to affordable housing options for the Northside neighborhood, which is near where the complex would be built.
About 20 people spoke about the project Monday, most were supportive, and said it would add needed housing for students and relieve pressure from the neighborhood's surrounding downtown.
"I think this is a step in the right direction," said Paul Snow, a Chapel Hill resident who plans to move downtown. "We really need downtown density and also dense housing projects that are walkable and bikeable to the university."
Jim Norton, director of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, supported the project and said the project conforms to all the town requirements.
"We believe the Shortbread Lofts is exactly the type of project downtown needs," he said. "It enhances our residential base."
Construction on the project is scheduled to start in June.
Read more about the council's discussion on the project in Tuesday's N&O and at newsobserver.com
In other council business Monday night:
-the council approved an SUP and rezoning for the Hultquist IP Office building at Meadowmont, 801 W. Barbee Chapel Road.