A developer wants to build a shopping center at the intersection of Leesville and Strickland roads in northwest Raleigh, an area where neighbors say traffic is already a problem.
Halpern Enterprises, an Atlanta company that develops and manages shopping centers, is buying the 7.7-acre site and is asking the city to rezone it, allowing retail and up to and 36 residential units.
It’s unclear what would anchor the shopping center, but some neighbors have heard developers want to attract a Publix grocery store.
“That was the general take that everybody had, but there is no verification,” said Jay Gudeman, chairman of the Northwest Citizens Advisory Council.
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Halpern’s website features photos of developments anchored by Publix and other grocery stores. The company declined to comment on whether the Florida-based chain plans to move into the site, said Michael Birch, an attorney working on the zoning application.
A Publix spokesperson declined to comment Friday.
The property is currently zoned for residential use only. A similar rezoning request for the same property was submitted in 2015, but the Northwest Citizens Advisory Council opposed it. Advisory councils are made up of residents who provide feedback to the city on proposed development.
Developers at the time pulled the proposal in hopes of making it more appealing to neighbors, especially residents of the Draymoor Manor subdivision. The property connects to Ashford Park Drive, Draymoor’s main street entrance.
The current zoning request was submitted in April and garnered approval from a majority of the advisory council. The city’s Planning Commission recommended approval April 26.
A public hearing before the City Council is scheduled for 7 p.m. June 7.
Jerry Cram, president of Draymoor’s homeowners association, praised Halpern in a letter sent to subdivision residents in April.
“We are very fortunate to be dealing with a developer and a company (Publix) who have a history of being good neighbors to those around them,” he wrote.
But traffic is a concern. Ashford Park Drive is commonly used as a way to bypass a stoplight at the corner of Leesville and Strickland roads.
“The teenagers, as soon as they get out of school, they race each other through the complex,” Cram said.
One day, Cram said he personally stopped 35 vehicles on Ashford Park at about 5 p.m., and 33 of the drivers told him they did not live in Draymoor.
Some say the new project would worsen traffic woes in the area, which is seeing new development. A pharmacy is being built on the corner, and Pine Hollow Middle School is scheduled to open nearby in July.
“All of the people in the general vicinity are concerned about the great deal of development going on right there,” Gudeman said.
Birch said a traffic study found that the roads would continue to handle traffic, even with new development, at acceptable levels.
Leesville Towne Centre, a retail development that includes a Harris Teeter, is across Strickland Road.
A proposed Publix store once proved controversial in North Raleigh. A developer’s plan to build a Publix at the corner of Falls of Neuse and Dunn roads was fought, and eventually killed, by widespread neighborhood resistance.
Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi