RALEIGH — During the boom years, few areas of the Triangle drew more interest from developers than Crabtree Valley.
Multiple ambitious projects were proposed including a 43-story tower called the Soleil Center but when the market crashed, demand for the projects fizzled.
What a difference four years makes.
Last week, Fein, a Houston-based apartment developer, became the latest company to bet on the area when it paid $7 million for a 7-acre site on the Kidds Hill property behind Crabtree Valley Mall. The company plans to build a 335-unit luxury apartment complex called Creekside at Crabtree.
When construction begins in the coming weeks, it will become the third new apartment community being built near the mall. And Feins announcement comes just weeks after a Texas developer unveiled plans for a $90 million project across Glenwood Avenue from the mall that will feature high-end restaurants, retail shops and, yes, more apartments.
Fein acquired its property from another Houston company, Weingarten Realty Investments, which paid $18.8 million for an 11.75-acre piece of Kidds Hill in late 2007. Weingarten still owns about 3 acres on the site.
Creekside, which is expected to open in the first quarter of 2016, is Feins first project in the Triangle. The company was founded in 1989 and has developed luxury communities in Houston, San Antonio and Austin, Texas; Denver; and Tucson, Ariz.
Daniel Fein, the companys vice president of development, said the economic strengths of Raleigh outweigh any concerns about the amount of new inventory getting built.
We believe in the Raleigh market; we just believe its really strong, he said. Theres been a lot of job growth recently, and I think despite the added supply, theres still some strong occupancy and rental growth.
The vacancy rate in Northwest Wake, which includes the Crabtree area, was 7.2 percent in March, according to Karnes Research and the Triangle Apartment Association. That was up from 4.8 percent during the same period last year. The jump was largely the result of 364 new units being completed since September, all of them in the Brier Creek area.
While the vacancy rate is rising, so are rents. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Northwest Wake was $967 in March, up 3 percent from the same period last year.
Creekside will include 301 apartments and 34 three-story townhomes for rent. A similar mix of apartments and townhomes will also be available at Marshall Park, a 384-unit complex now under construction near the mall on the south side of Blue Ridge Road.
The project, being developed by Woodfield Investments, will include 24 townhomes and is expected to open in November.
Creekside will be at the opposite end of Crabtree Valley Avenue from Crabtree Village, a 24-acre site being developed by Charlotte-based Terwilliger Pappas. The projects first phase, a 293-unit luxury apartment complex, is expected to open July 1. Future phases call for 200,000 square feet of office space and either additional apartments or a hotel.
Tom Barker, division executive for Terwilliger Pappas, said hes also not worried about the number of units being built in the area.
I think theyre going to come in over time and we have a lot of demand over there already, he said. Weve got a lot of employment in the area, a lot of amenities with the mall, the shopping, the restaurants and the greenway.
The various projects now under construction are likely to make Crabtree more enticing to pedestrians. Both Creekside and the retail project planned for across Glenwood are to include bridges connecting the properties to the mall.
As you get more population over there ... I think it will become a lot more walkable, and certainly its going to change over the next few years, Barker said. Its going to be completely different.
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