600-acre development in Southeast Raleigh could bring grocery store, homes, restaurants

The land along New Hope Road and Rock Quarry Road was cleared 10 years in preparation for a 600-acre project that didn’t materialize. Developers are hoping to reinvent the project.
The land along New Hope Road and Rock Quarry Road was cleared 10 years in preparation for a 600-acre project that didn’t materialize. Developers are hoping to reinvent the project.

Long-dormant plans for a sprawling golf community that would have redefined Southeast Raleigh are being resurrected without the links, possibly replaced by a grocery store, restaurants and shops in addition to single-family homes and a park.

“It could be a game-changer for a lot of people,” said Lee Weaver, co-chairman of the Southeast Citizens Advisory Committee. “The southeast part of Raleigh will be changed forever.”

A decade ago, the Olde Towne development on 600 acres in the far southeast corner of the city promised to revitalize an economically depressed area. But it fell victim to the recession and slipped into foreclosure, leaving behind land that had already been cleared for construction.

Back then the city’s focus was on shifting more of the growth to the southeast, and this project at the intersection of Rock Quarry and New Hope roads would have brought 2,400 townhouses ranging from $140,000 to $500,000, with an 18-hole golf course and 360,000 square feet of retail about six miles from downtown.

The reinvented project is being spurred by PNC Bank, which now owns most of the land. PNC wants to eliminate the current requirement in the project’s mixed-use master plan for a private golf course in the residential portion of Olde Towne, spokeswoman Diane Zappas explained in an email.

Golf course hampering project

The bank will have to convince the city to rezone the area so the residential development can proceed with a variety of housing without the expense of maintaining a private golf course, she said.

PNC will propose zoning that would allow a park with multi-purpose fields and a greenway and other public amenities for both Olde Towne residents and the surrounding community. It would also allow a range of types and styles of housing.

A commercial real estate and government regulation attorney in Raleigh has told neighborhood groups that a grocery store, restaurants and retail could be included, according to those who attended the meetings. PNC doesn’t own the land where stores and offices are likely to go.

Ulysses J. Lane, a co-chairman of the Southeast Citizens Advisory Council, says PNC representatives have been reaching out to the community over the past year. He said they have mentioned including affordable housing and plans for a new park, and asked what kind of stores residents would like.

“They have been coordinating very well,” Lane said of PNC. “They have been saying all the magic words.”

Southeast Raleigh has been trying to find its footing since a planned Walmart project in 2008 never materialized. Developers are building large residential projects there, but residents are wary of increasing congestion, traffic accidents and higher housing prices without improving the economy of the area with commercial development and jobs.

There is little in the way of business activity currently along that stretch of Rock Quarry. There’s a Dollar General Store in a small commercial strip along with warehouses and a smattering of “land for sale” signs around the wooded countryside that is Olde Raleigh.

Drawing some of the building activity is the Outer Loop extension of N.C.-540 from Apex to Knightdale, which eventually will entail an interchange with Rock Quarry Road.

Neighbors gave feedback

“That corner is going to be packed, eventually,” Weaver said of the New Hope and Rock Quarry intersection. “It’s good land.”

City Councilman Corey Branch, who represents that area, said Olde Towne would likely spur road improvements to be made sooner than they would otherwise.

“I see this as a positive,” Branch said.

Weaver said residents gave their feedback to the owners at a meeting earlier this month, and hope their input will be considered. The advisory council will take a vote on it on March 8.

“Potentially, this could be a real good thing,” Weaver said. “But we have learned over the years not to go with first instinct or even second, because what’s presented is not always the end result. Sometimes good intentions have a way of going to the left very quickly.”

Craig Jarvis: 919-829-4576, @CraigJ_NandO