Details on Fenton Development

Cary, NC – When the Cary Town Council approved the rezoning for the Fenton mixed use district in the Eastern Gateway, councilmembers called it a historic moment. This week, business leaders from around Cary gathered at the Chamber of Commerce to learn the details of this massive project.

What’s Coming to Fenton

The Cary Chamber of Commerce hosted Abbitt Goodwin and other representatives from Columbia Development to talk about the details of the Fenton project and answer questions at a Wednesday, February 7, 2018 meeting. Goodwin, Columbia’s Raleigh-based developer, echoed the Town Council’s sentiments that this is a game changer in Cary.

“We’re already looking at $1 billion in construction costs,” Goodwin said. “This is probably the biggest project in the region in a decade.”

The idea behind Fenton is to have a mix of office, retail and residential with some restaurants and hotels as well. Goodwin said the idea was to build up the Eastern Gateway, which “felt mature.”

“Cary needed a living room,” Goodwin said.

A map of buildings in Fenton, with parking decks in orange and vertical integration in purple. You can find the full-sized map online.

In terms of total size, Fenton will be 90 acres but 2.5 million square feet will be built. 1 million square feet of that will be office, with 400,000 square feet of retail and more than 800 residential units.

“Loft-type offices above retail will come in first, with larger corporations coming in later,” Goodwin said, adding there will be five high-rise office buildings in Fenton.

Goodwin described coming hotels as “a step above” Hampton Inn but just below the Umstead.

In terms of retailers, Goodwin said they are in talks with large names such as Filson, Levi’s, Patagonia and Toms. Also, Goodwin talked about online retailers such as Warby Parker, Bonobos and Cuyana getting into brick-and-mortar stores, with an interest in coming to Fenton as well.

“These businesses have excellent data on where their customers are,” Goodwin said. “When they move into these physical stores, they see a bump in sales, both online and in the stores.”

The one confirmed name for retail in Fenton is grocery chain Wegmans. This will serve as Fenton’s major anchor and while other mixed used districts and retail centers in the area may have multiple large anchors, Goodwin said Wegmans will offer a counterbalance.

“Seven thousand customers a day go to Wegmans,” Goodwin said. “For other large anchors and department stores, a person may only visit four times a year. Here, a person might go to Wegmans three times a week.”

To get retailers to move into Fenton, Goodwin said tenants may be leaving malls such as Crabtree to come here.

“One reason is the operating costs in a mall,” Goodwin said, while also saying the open air shopping at a center such as Fenton feels better for retailers and enclosed malls feel “institutional.”

With regards to restaurants, Goodwin said Fenton’s will be chef-driven concepts.

“No chain restaurants. No Cheesecake Factory,” Goodwin said. “We turned them down.”

Among the names Fenton is talking with is Atlanta chef Ford Fry. Also, chefs Steve Palmer and Scott Crawford are working with Fenton to create a “food hall” dining concept with multiple vendors coming in to sell their foods and wares in one place.

Building Cary’s “Urban Oasis”

As part of Goodwin’s presentation to the Cary Chamber of Commerce, there was a map detailing the pace of the mixed use district’s construction. Phase 1 will finish around mid-2020 while the final Phase 5 could be between 2023 and 2024.

A map of Fenton’s development over time. Phase 1 is yellow, Phase Two is indigo on the right, Phase 3 is green, Phase 4 is blue and Phase 5 is purple on the left

Running through Fenton will be two thoroughfares; one of these will be the small curved road already sticking off of Cary Town Boulevard. This will stretch up and connect to East Chatham Street. There will be another road running the other direction, crossing from Maynard Road.

With these roads, Goodwin said the plan is to keep traffic light with multiple parking decks all over Fenton and minimal parallel parking. In front of Wegmans, there will be a parking deck with subterranean lower levels. As part of that goal to minimize off the roads, Goodwin said they are currently looking into plans for pedestrians to connect via adjacent greenways and how bus rapid transit will serve the area. Cary Councilmember Don Frantz, who was also at the meeting, said the town was also considering pedestrian bridges to connect Fenton and Cary Towne Center.

In terms of economic impact, the projection is more than 19,000 jobs created in Cary and an economic impact of $1.2 billion, as well as an extra $7.7 million in annual tax revenue for the town.

Story by Michael Papich. Photos by Michael Papich, the Town of Cary and Columbia Development.

12 replies
  1. Owen Evans
    Owen Evans says:

    I can’t see how a development of this scale will function without access from multiple sides. I would like to see the developer contribute to ALL of the following infrastructure that will be *vital* for this project to work:
    1. Trinity Road extension to Cary Town Blvd. It would be a travesty to let this developer get off without at least building the bridge over Walnut Creek.
    2. Connection to SE Maynard?
    3. Cary Towne Blvd – Western Blvd connection into Raleigh that was proposed 40+ years ago but remains unbuilt.

    • Johnny Jones
      Johnny Jones says:

      On #3, I’m not from here but have wondered why that wasn’t connected. Using the google satellite view it gives the appearance that the right of way is already secured.

      • Mark Neill
        Mark Neill says:

        It wouldn’t surprise me to hear that it’s taking 40 years to figure out what to do with that mess of an intersection that would be Hillsborough North/Hillsborough West/Western/Buck Jones/Jones Franklin/CTB(Western). While the extension may have all of its right-of-way secured, it looks to me like they’d almost have to claim most of the island between Hillsborough and Western, the Handee Hugo’s at Western and Jones Franklin, and maybe even the parcel in the triangle that is Jones Franklin/Buck Jones/Xebec, in order to get all of the roadways aligned.

        That’s almost supercircle kind of road design going in there, with all those multiple merges and exits..

    • Mark Neill
      Mark Neill says:

      Number 1 is in play. Not in the first phase, which is mostly just the Wegmans building, but the full road map has that road running out through the eastern side of the soccer park, and connecting to Hillsborough opposite Trinity.

      Number 2 is less problematic than the I40 interchange, and depending on the future plans for the Cary Towne Center property, may have additional routes that could come into play (like an access road from, say, AT&T on Maynard, around on the eastern side of the property, to TAC, with a flyover into Fenton).

  2. Len Nieman
    Len Nieman says:

    I can see Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) running by Fenton, but it would defeat the purpose of BRT to have it running through the complex. Are there any plans for GoCary and/or GoTransit to circulate through Fenton? Or will transit riders have to walk in from Cary Towne Blvd, Maynard Rd, or East Chatham?

    • Mark Neill
      Mark Neill says:

      I don’t see why they wouldn’t – GoCary/GoTransit currently circulate through Cary Towne Center, and this development would have even more reason to bring the buses all the way into the complex.

      • Robert Bush
        Robert Bush says:

        For BRT, though, buses should have a dedicated lane so that they can stay on schedule. It would be reassuring to see a transit plan for the development in the same level of detail as the roadway and pedestrian plans.

  3. Ken and Mary Collins
    Ken and Mary Collins says:

    One aspect of the rendering by the developer that isn’t quite accurate is the appearance of all green and trees as far as the eye can see all around this. I agree this seems to be well conceived, and has many good components.

    • Alex
      Alex says:

      Thats part of the rendering software. They’re only rendering what’s new while assuming the surrounding area is already familiar to whoever is viewing the design. There’s no point in rendering the surrounding areas and neighborhoods as it would add no value to the purpose of the design concept. It would be a waste of time and money.

  4. Gary
    Gary says:

    whew! — no chain restaurants, unlike the chain restaurants-only concept over at the successful Park West development!

    • Mark Neill
      Mark Neill says:

      That’s sorta a strict definition of “chain” over there at Park West…

      * Cantina 18
      * Bad Daddy’s
      * Firebird’s
      * Blackfinn Ameribub (though closed now)
      * Nothing Bundt Cakes (how does a dessert place in a complex with a movie theater close at 7PM, come on…)
      * Blaze
      * B. Good
      * Rise
      * Full Moon Oyster Bar
      * Another Broken Egg
      * Travinia

      Plus there isn’t another Stone’s Theater in the Triangle (and fewer than a half dozen anywhere).

      Several of those aren’t chains at all. Several other ones are sorta “chains”, in that there are a few dozen of them around the region/country, but hardly mass-market brands. Sure there’s another half-dozen or so actual chains (Zoe’s, Ruckus, East Coast Subs, Chili’s, etc), but you say Park West is a “chain-only concept” is just wrong.

      You’re stretching it to claim there are no unique dining experiences in Park West

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