Heeding neighborhood criticism, the developer Morgan Property Group will submit major modifications to its controversial plan to build a grocery store in North Raleigh.
Morgan has long proposed to bring a 49,000-square-foot Publix store to the corner of Dunn and Falls of Neuse roads. It will change its rezoning request in the next few days, instead asking for the city’s permission to build a smaller 28,000-square-foot grocery store, according to Mayor Nancy McFarlane and Mack Paul, an attorney for the developer.
It’s unclear whether Florida-based Publix will continue its involvement with the site. Paul declined to say whether the grocer was still interested in the reduced-footprint site that Morgan will propose. McFarlane was unsure which grocers were looking at the site, and couldn’t say whether Publix was still in the mix.
“The developer has heard what the neighbors wanted and is now engaged with a viable tenant for a grocery store,” McFarlane said.
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The developer will press forward under the same rezoning case it pursued through much of 2014. However, it will change the proposal to include new limits on the size of the store. The rezoning request is not specific to Publix, but instead would clear the way for Morgan Property Group to bring in any grocery store or other user that fits the proposed restrictions.
“They’re looking at a smaller footprint, a smaller size store, in light of the push-back, the concerns that have been the focal point of the debate over the last year,” Paul said. “We’re prepared to significantly reduce the size of this store and make the necessary amendments to the zoning conditions.”
The proposal next goes to Raleigh’s Planning Commission. When it reaches the Raleigh City Council, it will face a challenge: Neighbors have filed protest petitions in the matter, meaning the project would require the approval of a supermajority of the council. Just three “no” votes could kill the proposal, unless the petitions are withdrawn.
The North Raleigh Coalition of Homeowners Associations, a chief critic of the proposal, is taking the news cautiously.
“For now we wait to see exactly what is proposed,” the group wrote in an email Sunday night. The group does not support any rezoning for the site, according to the email.
“Thank you Mayor McFarlane for getting us to this point,” the group wrote in a second email. “But we still have a ways to go and will not rest until this rezoning request is defeated.”
The current zoning would limit the site to 6,000 square feet of retail space, 207,000 square feet of office space or 13 dwelling units per acre, according to city staff.