More details about a potential IKEA coming to Cary are coming to light as Cary Towne Center moves forward with a major push to redevelop the mall, according to documents filed with the town and Wake County.
CBL & Associates Properties, the mall’s owner, submitted a rezoning request to the Town of Cary this week, beginning the process of revamping about a third of the 60-acre mall property. The struggling mall could one day completely transform based on plans for this first phase of redevelopment.
The first phase covers the eastern part of the property, which includes the vacant Macy’s and Sears buildings and land toward the Triangle Aquatic Center.
Meanwhile, an amended loan agreement filed in December between CBL and its lender describes the sale of a 15-acre parcel and talks about conditions surrounding items including the “IKEA Contract for Demolition Work” and the “IKEA Closing.”
Never miss a local story.
The land the mall is seeking to rezone appears to overlap with the 15 acres identified in a map labeled “Cary Towne Center Masterplan IKEA + Mall” that was attached to the agreement filed with the county.
The rezoning application shows a map of the 20-acre site with three buildings and a two-story parking deck totaling up to 380,000 square feet. Individual square footage for each building is not included in the application.
This could include a mix of uses, including retail, residential and office space that could provide a “ ‘park once’ shopping and dining experience germane to modern mixed-use development,” according to the application. A neighborhood meeting for the rezoning request will be held March 1.
“CBL is exploring a number of redevelopment scenarios for Cary Towne Center, but there is no binding plans with any retailer,” said Stacey Keating, CBL’s director of public relations, in an email Friday. “CBL would love to have a retailer of IKEA’s magnitude at Cary Towne Center.”
Mall officials have said this will launch what they believe will be a multi-phase project that may bring more retail, dining and entertainment options to the area off Interstate 40.
“We are thrilled to move forward,” Keating said. “CBL is committed to Cary Towne Center and this redevelopment further solidifies our commitment to the property and the market.”
The rezoning request comes as speculation about IKEA coming to Cary continues to circulate among real estate agents, developers and fans of the store.
Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht wrote about the redevelopment of the mall on his blog Jan. 22. He said it was being referred to as “Project Emerald.”
“Apparently, the potential business wants it to remain a secret,” he said. “All I can say is that Project Emerald equals blue and yellow.”
IKEA’s buildings are blue and yellow.
IKEA spokesman Joseph Roth said in January that the retailer hasn’t committed to a time frame for entering the Triangle market “let alone a specific site.”
“IKEA recognizes the customer base that exists for us in the Raleigh-Durham area and always has acknowledged that, long term, the metro area could support an IKEA store,” he said.
Roth said IKEA usually needs a population base of about 2 million people to support a store.
IKEA stores typically run between 270,000 and 400,000 square feet. If IKEA materializes in Cary, the 15-acre site would be one of IKEA’s smallest properties. The retailer’s Charlotte location, which opened in 2009, is on 25 acres, and its new Burbank, California, location is on 22 acres.
If the Cary Town Council approves the rezoning request, the mall would be allowed to build retail on the site with a height of 60 feet and with setbacks of 150 feet from adjacent neighborhoods. This would allow for buildings 6 feet taller than the mall’s tallest building: Dillard’s.
The Cary Town Council laid out its vision for a redeveloped mall and surrounding areas in an eastern Cary gateway plan that it approved in recent months.
“Redevelopment always has its challenges,” Councilman Don Frantz said. “But we have some older areas of our town, especially the Cary Towne Center mall area and such, that we would like to see it redeveloped into more of a mixed-use environment that offers greater shopping, dining, retail options for our citizens and is done in a thoughtful manner that creates a destination place and promotes walkability.”
Cary Councilwoman Lori Bush said she is looking forward to learning more about the project and would like to see the entire master plan for the redevelopment of the mall.
“I think that anything that happens there should be done holistically so if a new retailer or new set of buildings is coming, the council should get an idea of what the master plan is.”
With CBL’s anticipated time line, construction could be complete 18 months after approval, Keating has said.
This is not CBL’s first attempt to revitalize the property.
Mall officials once hoped to replace the Sears property with TopGolf, a golf and entertainment complex. But neighbors’ concerns about noise and lighting prompted TopGolf to announce plans in 2015 to look elsewhere.
“Cary Towne Center sits in a prime location,” Keating said last month. “And we believe there is more than enough demand to merit CBL’s commitment to providing unparalleled retail options to the community.”
Chris Cioffi contributed.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-829-4845: @KTrogdon