Wegmans may add grocery stores in Chapel Hill, Cary, Raleigh
Wegmans Food Markets may add a second site in western Cary in a proposed mixed-use development, according to preliminary plans filed with the town.
The plan comes six months after the popular grocery store chain announced it wanted to bring its first North Carolina store to a 90-acre site across from Cary Towne Center in the town’s eastern gateway.
The potential development in west Cary would be on about 34 acres between Davis Drive and the Twin Lakes subdivision and would include a 130,000-square-foot Wegmans, child care and assisted living facilities, as well as office, residential and retail, the preliminary plans show. The parties involved in developing the property met with town staff last month for a pre-application meeting.
“Wegmans is considering multiple sites in the Raleigh/Durham market, but until there are firm deals for each site, we are unable to share the locations or other details,” Wegmans spokeswoman Jo Natale said in an email.
Glenda Toppe, a Cary planning consultant, submitted the plans on behalf of the developer – a company that has yet to be disclosed. If the developer decided to move forward with the project at that site, the Cary Town Council would need to review the development plan because the grocery store is more than 100,000 square feet, said Debra Grannan, a senior planner with the town.
“They are not ready to submit yet,” Grannan said. “They just want to see if they are moving in the right direction.”
Toppe couldn’t be reached for comment.
The proposed mixed-use development includes a 162,600-square-foot assisted living facility, a 15,600-square-foot child-care facility and up to 80,000 square feet of office, retail and apartments. The plan also features a concert stage and amphitheater next to the lake.
“The Wegmans part is exciting, because it is the No. 1 grocery chain, and we might have the possibility or potential of having two Wegmans,” Mayor Harold Weinbrecht said Thursday. “So that would be really exciting to have in Cary.”
But Grannan said staff had some concerns about the plan, including development on town-owned property like stream buffers. She said some modifications would need to be made before the developer submits a development plan for review.
Wegmans, headquartered in Rochester, N.Y., has a fervent fan base. Its 89 grocery stores – scattered throughout New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts – boast a “European open-air market feel.” Stores feature a pharmacy, ready-made meals, a pizza shop and a coffee shop, as well as groceries. The company plans to open at least 13 more stores in the coming years.
In January, the company announced it had signed a letter of intent with South Carolina-based developer Columbia Development Group to bring a Wegmans to a site just north of Cary Towne Center. Natale said Thursday that the grocery store chain is still working toward a lease agreement with the developer.
Columbia Development Group has contracted to buy the land from the state for $21.15 million to build a mixed-use development with residential, retail and office space. The Cary Town Council would have to approve rezoning the property before the project could move forward, but the developer has yet to submit a rezoning application to the town.
The proposed Wegmans store in western Cary would join a growing number of grocers in the area.
Publix, another popular chain that began its North Carolina presence in the Triangle, already has two sites in Cary – in the Bradford shopping center in west Cary and at Millpond Village in a former Lowes Foods building on Kildaire Farm Road. A third is set for a new shopping center, known as Amberly Village, that was approved in May for the northwest corner of the intersection of Carpenter Fire Station and Green Level Church roads.
“I think that a lot of citizens would say they feel that the market is saturated with grocery stores,” councilwoman Jennifer Robinson said. “Then you’ll have other citizens that will probably think it’s cool to have another kind of grocery store.”
There is a Harris Teeter, a Food Lion and a Walmart less than a mile away from the proposed Wegmans.
“I’ve seen several times where you put one grocery store on the opposite corner from an existing grocery store and it hurts the existing grocery store,” Robinson said. “I have some apprehension about that.”
Robinson emphasized that the council isn’t allowed to tell the developer that it can’t build a grocery store there but could object to details such as the size of the space or number of drive-thrus.
“Citizens often ask us why we are allowing so many grocery stores,” she said. “It is important for them to know that the council is not authorized to approve or deny specific uses, such as grocers, pharmacies or fast food restaurants. We only have the authority to determine whether the zoning request such as commercial, office, residential and characteristics of a zoning request are acceptable.”
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608, @KTrogdon