Cary OKs massive office project likely to house MetLife workers

akenney@newsobserver.comJuly 26, 2013 

— The Town Council has approved Weston Lakefront Offices, a huge project that could house thousands of MetLife employees.

Plans for the project show three buildings, each standing seven stories and totaling 223,500 square feet.

While many new offices favor urban or semi-urban locales, Highwoods Properties’ proposal follows Cary’s staple commercial style: office buildings in a scenic, woodsy setting along the landscaped Weston Parkway.

The proposal fits the mold for MetLife, which will look to place at least 1,200 employees in Cary. But the company hasn’t confirmed or denied rumors of its future location, and developers aren’t saying much about who will occupy the land.

“The site is being proposed for a large corporate campus,” said David Lasley, owner of Piedmont Land Design, in a presentation Thursday to the Cary Town Council.

The 40-acre plan includes nearly 3,400 parking spots across three parking decks and “limited surface parking.”

The developer requested several variances from town rules, including a significant reduction in the area required for a future greenway.

The developer also asked to be excused from connecting the office to adjacent properties.

No one objected to the developer’s plans at a quasi-judicial hearing.

“I’m incredibly excited about this project. I think it’s a fantastic fit. Good gosh – this much office coming to Cary,” said Councilman Don Frantz.

“In a great place for it,” said Councilwoman Gale Adcock.

Still, it’s unclear when the project would begin construction. Raleigh-based Highwoods is keeping mum on the timeline and the potential occupant.

“Our particular prospect that we’re dealing with has asked that at this particular time we really (don’t) comment,” said Skip Hill, a vice president for Highwoods.

To snag the MetLife campus, both Cary and Wake County could pay the company about $1.9 million in cash incentives, according to town staff projections.

In exchange, MetLife could put more than $85 million into a Cary campus by 2017.

In the meantime, MetLife has leased temporary space in the Imperial Center office park in Durham.

Kenney: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @KenneyOnCary

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