A long-awaited project that could bring office, retail, restaurants, hotels, multifamily housing and a Wegmans grocery store to one of the largest remaining pieces of vacant land in Cary is moving forward.
Columbia Development Group, a Columbia, South Carolina-based real estate development firm, expects to submit a rezoning request to the Town of Cary on Monday to make its vision a reality and bring thousands of new jobs to what is known as Cary’s eastern gateway. The 92-acre site is across the street from Cary Towne Center near Interstate 40.
“Upon arrival, this rezoning proposal will enable the creation of a beautiful and unique destination for individuals, families and businesses in Cary and the surrounding Triangle region to live, work and play,” Abbitt Goodwin Jr., a partner at Columbia Development Group’s Raleigh office, said in a statement.
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Columbia wants to bring up to 2 million square feet of mixed-use space, including two hotels and multifamily units – most of which would be over the retail space, according to the developer. It would also include an amphitheater, green space and parking decks.
Columbia has shared a video of the proposal that shows hotels and a 120,000-square-foot Wegmans closest to Cary Towne Boulevard and office and residential over retail and restaurants to the north in a walkable development.
“There is nothing like it in the Triangle,” Goodwin said. “It will be a unique project with potential to be a regional employment center and mixed use destination.”
This vision represents a shift in what originally was discussed in January 2016 when Columbia submitted a preliminary development sketch to the town that was weighted more heavily toward the proposed Wegmans. Columbia has contracted to buy the land from the state for $21.15 million.
But this large-scale project that could bring one of the first Wegmans to North Carolina is far from complete. The Cary Town Council will need to approve rezoning the property before the project can move forward, and council members have expressed some reservations.
For this area, council members have stressed high intensity and high density with a mix of retail, office and residential to create a walkable destination. While Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht said he likes the vision Columbia is showing, council members want to be sure what they see is what they get.
“One thing I wanted and asked for is a view from Cary Towne Boulevard down toward Wegmans,” he said. “What am I going to see? Am I going to see a big box? What we don’t want to see is a big box and a parking deck so if you can make it look more like a village, which they have, then they accomplish more of what we were trying to achieve.”
With the struggling Cary Towne Center across the street moving forward with what the mall’s owner hopes to be the first phase of redevelopment, the council is looking to create a destination.
“If they do mostly retail and then across the street the mall develops with more retail, then this will become a big retail area,” Weinbrecht said. “Our vision is to have more live, work and play.”
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-829-4845: @KTrogdon