Cary could attract more millennials in the coming years as a new housing development in northwest Cary targeting that demographic moves forward.
The Cary Town Council unanimously approved on Tuesday, Dec. 8, the development plan for Alston Village – a 493 multi-family residential development north of Panther Creek High School and southwest of Alston Town Center, which is under construction.
Cary Creek Limited Partnership of Charlotte is seeking to build 238 manor apartments, 206 garden apartments and 49 subdivided townhomes on 39 acres. The complex, which would include one-, two- and three-bedroom units, would feature amenities such as a bike repair center, fitness center, lap pools and more.
Millennials, the last generation born in the 20th century, typically includes those born between the late 1970s and early 2000s. Jason Barron, a lawyer with Morningstar Law Group, said the complex would target this group, as well as empty nesters, or parents whose children have left home after high school.
“The people who are moving into these types of residential communities ... they are not large families,” Barron said. “They are empty nesters. They are millennials. They are young professionals who are living by themselves that are looking for nicer finishes and have not accumulated the wealth to buy a home in the town of Cary.”
More millennials in Cary
Attracting millennials to Cary has been a topic of discussion in the past, including during this year’s election. During that time, candidates for Cary’s District B and D seats shared how they would encourage the fastest growing demographic to move to the area if elected.
Three months later, it is still on the minds of those that were elected in those two races – incumbent Don Frantz for District B and newcomer Ken George for District D – as well as the rest of the Cary Town Council.
“Given the amount of people that we have in Cary and families and kids and those that are getting out of college and getting ready to start their careers, we want them to stay in Cary,” Frantz said. “We would love for them to stay in Cary and provide housing opportunities and places for them to stay.”
Millennials are looking for communities that providr more walkable, bikeable environments, Barron said, adding that this development, in conjunction with the adjacent Alston Town Center, would provide that. The plan also includes a to-be-developed greenway and streetside trail.
Alston Town Center will have a Whole Foods, which already has been approved by the council, and potentially other retail and offices uses.
“Sites like this, when planned appropriately and delivered appropriately and within kind of walkable and bikeable environments, are starting to make Cary an attractive option for the type of workforce that I think, ultimately ... will constitute the vast majority of it,” Barron said.
Town standard modifications
The council also approved three town development standard modifications for the project: the removal of a champion tree, a waiver for the maximum cul-de-sac length and a reduction to required parking minimums.
Most of the council members agreed that the cul-de-sac length waiver and removal of the champion tree were not an issue, but the parking request raised some concerns. The reduction would provide 23 percent fewer parking spaces than required.
The plan includes 891 spaces – 259 fewer than the minimum required by the town.
Todd Noell, principal of Noell Consulting Group in Atlanta, said based on the demographics being targeted, the complex does not need more spaces. He cited a national statistic that says 47 percent of millennials say it’s important to them to live and work without relying on a car
In addition, he said fewer millennials are buying vehicles or even getting their driver’s license, compared to older generations.
“What we are hearing is the trends, but I don’t know many couples that don’t both have a car,” Councilwoman Jennifer Robinson said. “It seems like an unrealistic figure for our demographics here.”
“I think we all struggle here,” Mayor Harold Weinbrecht said. “We don’t know what the magic number is.”
But the council’s concerns were minimized when Cary Senior Planner Kevin Hales said there already are complexes in Cary with similar bedroom-to-parking ratios, including Meridian at Harrison Pointe and Lofts at Weston Lakeside Apartments. He said he doesn’t know of any parking complaints at either location.
“If we’ve got examples in town that have the same ratio and they have not had a problem as of yet, I would trust the professionals to know what parking they need,” Frantz said.
Access to the site is contingent on an extension of Highcroft Drive northward, from McCrimmon Parkway to the entrance of the development. This road will be further extended to N.C. 540 during another phase of the Alston Town Center.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608; @KTrogdon