Midtown Raleigh News

Developer proposes new project for Kidd’s Hill property behind Crabtree mall

Nearly two years after it was foreclosed on by Wells Fargo, a portion of the Kidd’s Hill property behind Crabtree Valley Mall has another suitor.

Pappas Properties of Charlotte has put the 24-acre site under contract, and is seeking to rezone it to allow for a smaller project that would contain 50 more hotel rooms but fewer apartments and less retail and office space.

The deal would rekindle activity in an area that drew intense developer interest before the downturn.

The previous owner of the site, York Properties of Atlanta, had committed to including a minimum amount of square footage in its project, said Peter Pappas, president of Pappas Properties.

“Based on our assessment of the market we don’t think those minimums are doable under the current market conditions,” he said.

The revised zoning would allow for up to 525 apartments, 60,000 square feet of retail, 250,000 square feet of office space and a 200-room hotel.

The deal is contingent on the rezoning being approved by the city. The rezoning case had its first hearing before the city’s Planning Commission earlier this month.

The Kidd’s Hill project would be Pappas Properties first in the Triangle. Most of the company’s projects have been in the Charlotte area.

“We’re very focused on ... good infill sites like the Crabtree site,” Pappas said.

Pappas, who grew up in Charlotte and attended N.C. State University, said he had looked at the Kidd’s Hill property before York bought it for $10.2 million in 2007 at the peak of the market.

“It’s a very unique site,” he said, noting the steep topography that slopes toward the mall.

Pappas said the revised plans for the property would seek to limit the amount of grading required and preserve as much of the hillside as possible.

The most significant change from the York plan is reducing the amount of retail by 100,000 square feet.

“We see that area well supplied as it relates to retail,” Pappas said, noting that most of what remains in the plan would be designed to cater to the residents, office workers and hotel guests.

The property Pappas has under contract is at the opposite end of Crabtree Valley Avenue from a site that developer Weingarten Realty Investors of Houston hopes to develop. That project has been delayed indefinitely, but the development of both sites has the potential to create a pedestrian-friendly stretch of amenities in an area not necessarily known for being walkable.

And although a number of projects in the Crabtree area were delayed or cancelled when the recession hit and lending dried up – most notably the Soleil Center – there has been an uptick in activity of late.

Across Glenwood Avenue from the mall, a South Carolina developer plans to tear down the Richmond Hills apartments and replace it with Crabtree North, a 500-unit apartment complex and parking deck.

Meanwhile, southeast of Kidd’s Hill, a 135-room Hampton Inn & Suites is under construction and is expected to open next year.

Of course, any discussion of new development in the Crabtree area eventually raises the issue of traffic. Pappas said his company’s plan would reserve rights-of-way that are slated to be part of future road improvements to Crabtree, and would also tie in to the nearby greenway.