South Hills Mall was the first shopping center to open in Cary in the mid-1960s. The second mall to be built was originally called Cary Village Mall, but later the name was changed to Cary Towne Center. It opened in 1979 with 38 stores, including Hudson Belk and Iveys (which later became Dillards) as anchors.
David Martin: I built the first shopping center, (South Hills Mall), in Cary.
One morning at church Raymond Morgan, who was the manager at Hudson Belk downtown, motioned me over and said, “David, Cary is beginning to grow. One of these days somebody is going to build a shopping center out here. Have you thought about it?”
I had not thought about it, but he planted the idea. I got to looking around, and found the site where South Hills Mall now stands. The service plaza was the first thing we built, from 1960 to 1965. A lot of these Cary boys came out and helped me build South Hills Mall, when they were teenagers.
I know a man that has a very high position with a company and makes a great salary. But he got his start in construction when we were building the service plaza and the motel out here.
The service plaza at South Hills Mall is built with the bricks from the Cary High School dormitory. I helped to tear that building down and saw that there were many tons of bricks. We cleaned them up and used them at various houses and office buildings we were building. The service plaza was built out of those bricks.
When South Hills opened, a grocery store was the anchor, with 20 or 30 smaller stores there. Then we built the motel next to it. That was the first large motel in town.
When I first built South Hills it was in Raleigh, but in 1974 it was rezoned into Cary and became Cary’s first shopping Center.
We also built the first twin theater in Cary, and the first chain restaurant in Cary, which was a Hardees. Cary was just a sleepy town, but we built a lot of things like that.
My family’s farm, Maynard farm, at one time consisted of 1,200 acres around the intersection of Maynard Road and Walnut Street.
Daddy owned the land where the shopping center is, Cary High School is, and where the Barnes and Noble center is. Daddy first sold the land for Cary High School. Then he sold a piece of land for the Catholic Church, where Barnes and Noble is today.
Then he sold land where the shopping center (Cary Towne Center) is to an individual first, and that individual sold it for the shopping center. He had no idea the land would be used for a shopping center. They didn’t even check with him.