Cary residents will learn more about a rezoning request that could result in the long-awaited revitalization of Cary Towne Center at a neighborhood meeting Wednesday.
CBL & Associates Properties, the mall’s owner, submitted a rezoning request to the Town of Cary in early February, beginning the process of revamping about a third of the 60-acre mall property. This first step covers the eastern part of the property, which includes the vacant Macy’s and Sears buildings and land toward the Triangle Aquatic Center.
Attendees can ask questions and share thoughts or concerns about the project at the meeting, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Cary Town Council chambers at 316 N. Academy St. CBL representatives and town staff will be in attendance.
Staff will give an overview about the town’s rezoning process, highlighting opportunities for public input, including a public hearing before the council that will be scheduled at a later date, said Wayne Nicholas, a planning manager.
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“After we’ve done that, we break off into individual meetings so people will be able to meet with the particular applicant that they are interested in learning more about,” he said.
Three rezoning cases, including the mall’s case, are scheduled for the Wednesday meeting.
If the Cary Town Council approves the request, the mall would be allowed to build retail on that part of 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.
Mall officials have said this rezoning request launches what they believe will be a “multi-phase project” that may bring more retail, dining and entertainment options to the area off Interstate 40. It could provide a “‘park once’ shopping and dining experience germane to modern mixed-use development,” according to the application.
“We are thrilled to move forward,” sStacey Keating, CBL’s director of public relations, wrote in an email in February. “CBL is committed to Cary Towne Center, and this redevelopment further solidifies our commitment to the property and the market.”
With CBL’s anticipated timeline, construction could be complete 18 months after approval, Keating has said.
Revitalizing a long time coming
Many have hoped to see one of the oldest parts of Cary, including the 38-year-old mall, revitalized for some time.
CaryForward, a group of residents who support redevelopment of the mall, sent an email blast inviting others to attend the meeting to “learn more about the project and voice your support for positive change.”
“We strongly support this rezoning effort because we share your vision and remain committed to a more vibrant Cary – one that features a strong economy and ensures that Cary remain a destination location in the Triangle,” the email said.
Rumors about IKEA coming to the site have circulated over the last few months but the store hasn’t confirmed whether it will build one of its popular furniture stores in Cary. But documents connecting the mall and the Swedish retailer were filed with Wake County in December.
Transforming the mall meshes with the Town Council’s plans to create a thriving eastern gateway along Cary Towne Boulevard with retail, residential and office space. The Rochester, N.Y.,-based Wegmans grocery store chain has expressed an interest in opening its first North Carolina site on undeveloped property north of the mall.
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 in January. “And we believe there is more than enough demand to merit CBL’s commitment to providing unparalleled retail options to the community.”
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-829-4845: @KTrogdon