A plan to add an apartment building and new retail space at the Ridgewood Shopping Center off Wade Avenue has nearby residents on edge.
They say they don’t want their neighborhood to look like downtown Raleigh – and they don’t want it to turn into Cameron Village either.
Some residents say they’re concerned the proposed additions could affect their quality of life by bringing more noise and traffic to the long-established neighborhood. Many have lived on the quiet streets surrounding the retail center, home to Whole Foods and Quail Ridge Books & Music, for decades.
“Whatever happens here will be a justification for what’s going to happen next,” said Bob Morris. He and his wife, Carole, bought their home that backs up to the shopping center in 1976.
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The Morrises said they also do not want the project to exacerbate problems with noise and light in their neighborhood.
The neighborhood – home to modest ranches, mid-century modern homes and some teardowns – was the outskirts of Raleigh when the first houses were built more than 60 years ago. As the city has grown, it’s become more central, and the proposed project is many of the residents’ first encounter with the potential for downtown-style density.
Some say they do not want to see any changes to the retail center. Others are amenable to a new building if it blends into the neighborhood. Everyone wants more details about what could be coming.
“We just want to figure out something that works for everyone,” Carole Morris said.
The new development wouldn’t affect the strip mall that houses Quail Ridge and Whole Foods, but it would replace a separate section with a Bruegger’s Bagels and a Tripps Restaurant.
The original plan for the apartment building called for 150 units, from studios to three-bedrooms, in a 79-foot building. The building also would include offices and retail space.
Andrew Techet, president of Ridgewood Shopping Center LLC, said the company is refining the plan, in part based on ideas from the city and neighbors. He expects it will be at least August before the next round of designs is ready. Until then, he’s glad to hear from residents.
“We’re happy to talk with them at any time,” said Techet, whose grandfather built the shopping center.
If the plans go through, Techet said the mixed-use development would offer residents the amenities of the shopping center and access to greenways and highways.
“A mixed-used development at Ridgewood adds an element of dynamism that our side of town does not have,” he said.
The plan must be approved by the planning commission but will not necessarily reach the city council.
About 150 residents are part of a growing group that is tracking the plan’s progress. They are preparing for a variety of scenarios, from hiring legal counsel to fight a design they dislike to working with developers to reach an accord.
Stefanie Mendell grew up in the neighborhood in the 1960s, when she could ride her bike from her home to the shopping center’s soda fountain.
She returned as an adult because of the community there.
Mendell said she doesn’t want to see the parking lot overrun with cars or for high-density buildings to outpace transit improvements.
“This is not downtown, and I don’t want it to be downtown,” she said.