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Developer tweaks North Raleigh project in hopes of gaining support

A diagram of Spencer Ridge, a mixed-use project at the corner of Falls of Neuse and Raven Ridge roads, submitted by D&N Developent as part of its rezoning request.
A diagram of Spencer Ridge, a mixed-use project at the corner of Falls of Neuse and Raven Ridge roads, submitted by D&N Developent as part of its rezoning request. City of Raleigh

A developer hopes to gain more community support for a controversial project in North Raleigh by including less retail space and more landscaping.

D&N Development wants to build a mixed-use project called Spencer Ridge on 17.3 acres on the northeast corner of Falls of Neuse and Raven Ridge roads. But some residents and Raleigh City Council members fear the project would bring unwanted traffic to a property in a watershed.

The site is currently zoned for residential use, so the developer needs the City Council to grant its rezoning request to build Spencer Ridge.

A community meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Abbotts Creek Community Center to update residents on proposed changes to the project.

A new plan would curb traffic by reducing the amount of retail space in the project from 50 percent to less than 30 percent, according to Nick Brown, a spokesman for D&N. Developers estimate the project won’t generate more than 9,000 vehicles each day. That’s nearly 3,000 fewer trips per day than the original plan.

Initially, D&N’s plan called for 160 condos and retail and office space. But now the plan is for between 150 and 190 residential units, office space, retail space – possibly for a supermarket – restaurant space and public art.

D&N is also promising affordable housing as part of the development, which it says would be the first time a developer includes affordable housing as a zoning condition in Raleigh. The goal is to gain approval from Raleigh leaders, who are placing high priority on creating more affordable housing. Last year, the city dedicated revenue from a 1 cent tax rate hike to funding more units.

The developer says between 30 and 38 residential units – more than 20 percent of the project’s units – will be designated as affordable housing for tenants who earn at or below 80 percent of the median income, which is about $49,000 for a dual-income family.

It’s unclear how the city would govern the affordable housing rentals. There’s no clear legal mechanism for the city to regulate the rentals.

The latest proposal comes two months after the City Council nearly rejected the project. Four of the council’s eight members – Corey Branch, David Cox, Kay Crowder and Russ Stephenson – said in a February meeting that they were willing to scrap the project.

Most of the council members reached this week said they hadn’t yet thoroughly reviewed the proposed changes. But Cox said the proposal, which still calls for retail, doesn’t fit with the residential character of the area.

“That’s still an enormous amount of traffic,” he said. “The bottom line is that what they’re proposing dramatically changes the character of the area. It’s not just one thing.”

Paul A. Specht: 919-829-4870, @AndySpecht

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