A plan to build three hotels on North Harrison Avenue near Interstate 40 and the entrance to SAS Institute will move forward more than a year after it was first presented to nearby residents.
Applicant Joel Williams is requesting to rezone about 7 acres at 1623 North Harrison Ave., to allow Daly Seven, a Virginia-based developer, to build three hotels. The buildings would be six stories, seven stories and eight stories with a total maximum of 350 rooms.
Bob Daly, president of Daly Seven, said the hotels would be from the Marriott chain. He spoke at a neighborhood meeting Wednesday.
“They are very nice hotels,” Daly said. “Typically, ones you and I would want to stay in.”
One hotel would be a Courtyard. One would be a SpringHill Suites, and the third, which does not have a brand yet, will be built in the future. The development is expected to be built out by 2021.
“This is now a new development that is occurring in the hotel industry, what they are calling blended properties, which are several hotels within one complex sharing several of the facilities,” said Tom Murphy, the principal architect with Olive Architecture.
The site is unique in that it shares a border with the Arboretum at Weston, a mixed-use shopping center, and the Wessex subdivision.
The proposal drew nearly 50 people to Wednesday’s neighborhood meeting, which is required in the rezoning process before the case can go before the Cary Town Council. The case likely won’t go before the council for a few months.
People came with questions and concerns about building heights, stormwater management, light, noise and traffic impacts.
“Quite honestly, a hotel is a more benign use than the vast majority of uses that could go on Harrison Avenue, whether it’s shopping or convenience stores or lots of other uses that have significantly more traffic,” Daly said.
Representatives with Daly Seven met with Wessex residents last year to hear their thoughts when they were determining whether the site is appropriate for two or three hotels. At the time, some residents said the buildings would overlook their homes and diminish their property values.
Since then, the developer has altered the plan in response to that feedback.
“We really tried to move things away from the neighborhood and allow more screening, more landscaping in those areas,” Daly said.
This required the developer to add a single story to the hotels.
“To move them back away from the residents, we had to shrink the footprint and had to go taller,” said Gary McCabe, owner of Red Line Engineering. “We have to have 350 rooms to make it work financially. When you are developing on North Harrison Avenue, that’s not cheap land.”
But several of Wednesday’s attendees still had concerns when it came to building height and traffic. The hotels are expected to generate about 2,860 vehicle trips per day.
The North Harrison Avenue entrance to the property only would be right-in, right-out. Because of this, one required road improvement would be to elongate a concrete island on North Harrison Avenue from the project’s property line down the street about 100 feet.
Some residents were concerned that this would make left turns onto North Harrison Avenue from Montibello Drive even more difficult.
Deborah Reichel, the director of business operations at Cary Academy, said she was concerned that these changes would push traffic farther down North Harrison, resulting in more U-turns near the entrances of Cary Academy at Research Drive and Cary Parkway.
“There is a significant concern on our part about the safety of our families as they come and go on North Harrison,” she said.
McCabe said the developer was working with the Town of Cary to determine what off-site road improvements would be appropriate.
“We do want to make sure that whatever we do on North Harrison makes sense for the people around it,” he said. “We don’t want to do something that is going to cause an issue or exacerbate an issue that doesn’t come up in a traffic study.”
The applicant will hold a second neighborhood meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 13, at the Town of Cary council chambers.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon