Morrisville considers property near future rail station

02/21/2014 4:18 PM

02/21/2014 4:19 PM

A 125-acre development around a future rail station at McCrimmon Parkway could bring millions of dollars in tax revenue – but first the town needs property owners’ support.

One of the main parcels of the tract, about 24 acres, is for sale. Morrisville leaders must rezone the property to pave the way for a developer to build a town square, offices, retail space, townhomes and apartments on the site, said Planning Director Ben Hitchings.

Under the site’s current zoning designation, a developer could only build a warehouse or other industrial use.

The Transit Area Plan has three major sections that call for predominantly residential or office space. The main parcel in question, however, is likely the town’s best hope to bring mixed-use development to the site.

It’s also the first property to come up for sale.

Rezoning the property to “conditional use” would be a first major step toward making the Transit Area Plan a reality, Hitchings said.

Because the town doesn’t own the 125 acres around the future rail station, implementing the plan will depend largely on cooperation from existing property owners and future developers.

The Transit Area Plan is only a vision, with some supporting development codes.

The Morrisville Town Council didn’t support buying the property to secure the future design. Instead, members pushed for rezoning the land.

“If we don’t rezone this and someone buys this, they could come in and do industrial,” said Councilman Michael Schlink. “I’d like to have it rezoned too, so we don’t have a problem.”

The rail station would be near N.C. 54 at the intersection of McCrimmon Parkway and Church Street. Plans are contingent upon Wake County Commissioners putting a half-cent sales tax increase on the ballot to fund a regional transit plan.

The McCrimmon Station project could house up to 106,000 square feet of retail, with about 40 percent of that designated for restaurants; 17,000 square feet for a grocery retailer like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods Market; and 250,000 square feet of office space, with about 43,000 square feet set aside for small firms and start-up companies.

The project could generate about $2.7 million a year in local and county tax revenue, according to a financial analysis by Triangle J Council of Governments.

Morrisville’s role is to be a matchmaker between property owners and developers who want to build mixed use in the area, Hitchings said.

“We’re really at a point where private action is required,” Hitchings said. “We’ve created a zoning mechanism that gives folks an incentive to pursue our vision. The opportunity is out there.”

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