Cary Towne Center

New Development Plan for Cary Towne Center

Cary, NC – Back in 2017, there were big plans to redevelop Cary Towne Center with IKEA as the new anchor draw with its first Triangle store. Then IKEA changed its mind about new store formats and pulled out of their decision, leaving plans for the mall in limbo. Now there’s a new preliminary development plan for the mall, with multi-use buildings and several with a proposed maximum height of 12 stories.

In the past few years, several anchor stores at Cary Towne Center have closed, including Sears, Macy’s and JCPenney, not to mention IKEA changing its plans to open a store here even after going through the rezoning process. Real estate and development firm Turnbridge Equities bought the mall earlier this year.

In the preliminary development plan on the Town of Cary website, the new plan divides the mall site into 16 blocks. Within each block, there are different uses specified (residential, office, commercial or hotel/motel), and these uses are also divided between the ground floor and upper floors. This is consistent with the previous plans for Cary Towne Center’s redevelopment, as well as plans for the adjacent Fenton, where buildings will have multiple uses within them.

Cary Towne Center

Each block also has minimum and maximum building heights spelled out. Three of the buildings have a minimum height of four stories and a maximum of 12 stories. The PDP also says a one-story building must have a minimum height of 22 feet.

Cary Towne Center

The plan also includes a parking deck at the corner of SW Maynard Road and Cary Towne Boulevard, with a maximum height of eight stories, with two entrances from both Cary Towne Boulevard and Convention Drive. The PDP puts the parking deck behind where the Dave and Buster’s is currently located in the mall.

“Since acquiring Cary Towne Center in January, and amid the declining retail environment and ongoing store closures at the mall, we have begun taking steps to revitalize the property, take advantage of its central location within the Research Triangle and better serve the town of Cary. The property offers a tremendous opportunity to be reinvented with a vibrant mix of potential uses,” said Jason Davis, managing director at Turnbridge Equities in a statement. “To realize this potential, we have submitted for a comprehensive rezoning of the property that will allow us to add new uses to the Cary Towne Center and contribute to Cary’s thriving community. We look forward to continuing to work together with the Town of Cary and its leadership throughout the rezoning and on the long-term redevelopment vision.”

While the PDP leaves out the Dillard’s, this does not mean that all of the Cary Towne Center site would be demolished, as it also includes buildings such as the Starbucks, Jumpstreet and AT&T store, among other businesses. Instead, this PDP lays out what can and cannot be built on the mall site with this proposal. Additionally, both Dillard’s and Belk own their own sites and were left standing in the previous redevelopment plan.

“Cary Towne Center anchor department store, Belk, will remain a part of the property now and in the future. Belk shares in our long-term vision to reimagine the property, and looks forward to the reinvention of Cary Towne Center and to continuing to serve its customers and the community,” Davis said.

This development plan is still preliminary so it is subject to change.

Story by Michael Papich. Photos by Michael Papich and the Town of Cary.

12 replies
  1. Brendan
    Brendan says:

    I just spoke with one of the owners of Cheaper by the Day, the store now in the closed Macy’s store. They recently signed a 2 year lease for the space. He did say the mall does have some options to get out of the lease before 2 years, but if this mall isn’t razed and construction started on the new plans within 2 years, I’ll be pissed. Seems like the owners would continue to lose money as long as the mall sits in this state.

      • Mark Neill
        Mark Neill says:

        Belk isn’t shown on this map; it’s today about where the left half of the block with the “11” in it is.

        Which is weird. I’d completely expect Belk to stay and Dillards to go, if only one were going to stay going forward…

  2. Brendan
    Brendan says:

    I like the street layout instead of massive parking lot arrangement like Park West Village. I hope they stick to it. The design, materials used, etc is key. Buildings have to have architectural interest. I prefer something historic feeling — brick and stone, instead of something more modern. Tree-lined, walkable sidewalks. All primary buildings 1-14 should be at least 4-5 stories to make the primary core feel more urban with retail/restaurants on bottom and apts/hotel space on top, with lots of commercial space.

    The damn Belk store and it’s horrible lot really looks out of place in the design.

    The “community gathering areas” seem small, but it’s hard to determine scale. So many retail developments make a pathetic token effort on green space. A 30′ x 20′ area of astroturf in a parking lot isn’t adequate. Put a grouping of restaurants adjacent to a large grassy area with water spray area and climbing area for kids to run and play. Shoppers can get dinner, eat outside and bring a drink to listen to performers, Friday and Sat nights, etc. Think about having enough space for people to gather for special events like Christmas tree lighting, symphony performance or ice skating rink.

    It’s gonna be a race to see who wins the development race between Fenton and the new CTC. Who can grab the new retail boutiques, stores and restaurants. It’s going to be tough with so many solid retail stores closing or going out of business. Cary’s demographics are incredible. The store mix needs to match the demos and cannot be the same tired chains you find in strip malls all over the Triangle.

    Look at this incredible shot of Rockville Town Square at night:
    The round corners of the buildings really draw you in. It’s a great place.

    • George Jones
      George Jones says:

      excellent post. the site has great potential with Fenton, proximity to Cary & Raleigh downtown’s along with quick access to the interstate. Hopefully a partnership/cooperation with Fenton can be developed to make sure the sites compliment one another.

  3. George McDowell
    George McDowell says:

    Nice plan! What with the huge increase in property-tax revenue for the Town the development will bring, I expect the tax bills of Town homeowners will be reduced commensurately.

    Has there been any unofficial estimate published on exactly how much our tax bills will be reduced when development is completed?

    My own thought is that the site would be a nice venue for a Town of Cary Public Arboretum. True that that would not bring an equal amount of revenue to the Town, but it would go along way toward alleviating the choking traffic that will result from the development as well as reducing our air pollution and stormwater-runoff problems.

    • Mark Neill
      Mark Neill says:

      See, it’s statements like this, from people who profess to be educated on how local governments do and should work, that make people not understand how local governments do and should work.

      For starters, NCDOR figures for the 2017-18 year, county property tax rates, for a number of counties nearby or otherwise like us:

      County Latest Eval County rate
      ALAMANCE 2017 .5800
      CABARRUS 2016 .7000
      CHATHAM 2017 .6281
      DURHAM 2016 .7679
      FRANKLIN 2018 .8950
      HARNETT 2017 .7500
      JOHNSTON 2011 .7800
      MECKLENBURG 2011 .8157
      ORANGE 2017 .8377
      WAKE 2016 .6150

      Wake county has a lower tax rate than any nearby county outside of Alamance – and that’s only by 3 cents/$100 assessed value. What this means is that Wake county itself doesn’t provide a whole lot of services to the county as a whole, they’re left to the towns. That’s why a county like Franklin has such a higher tax rate – there aren’t enough sizeable towns to hand off those operations to separately, so the county has to fund them.

      Moving onto local and similar towns and cities; Municipality, County rate (for the county the town is mostly in), Muni rate, and total tax assessment:

      Town/City County Muni Total
      BURLINGTON .5800 .5973 1.1773
      MEBANE .8377 .4700 1.3077
      ASHEVILLE .5390 .4289 .9679
      CONCORD .7000 .4800 1.1800
      PITTSBORO .6281 .4333 1.0614
      SILER CITY .6281 .5100 1.1381
      CHAPEL HILL .8377 .5080 1.3457
      DURHAM .7679 .5786 1.3465
      FRANKLINTON .8950 .7200 1.6150
      LOUISBURG .8950 .4950 1.3900
      BENSON .7800 .5400 1.3200
      CLAYTON .7800 .5500 1.3300
      CHARLOTTE .8157 .4787 1.2944
      CARRBORO .8377 .5894 1.4271
      CHAPEL HILL .8377 .5080 1.3457
      HILLSBOROUGH .8377 .6200 1.4577
      APEX .6150 .3800 .9950
      CARY .6150 .3500 .9650 <<<
      FUQUAY-VARINA .6150 .5325 1.1475
      GARNER .6150 .4325 1.0475
      HOLLY SPRINGS .6150 .4300 1.0450
      KNIGHTDALE .6150 .3900 1.0050
      MORRISVILLE .6150 .4253 1.0403
      RALEIGH .6150 .4800 1.0950
      ROLESVILLE .6150 .4800 1.0950
      WAKE FOREST .6150 .5200 1.1350

      Cary has the lowest Municipal tax assessment, almost by far, than any other local or large town/city in NC. Only Apex and Knightdale also have sub-40-cent assessment rates, and I don't think there's much of a discussion to be had that Cary does far more for the town, as a whole, than either of those two. Combining the two, Cary STILL carries the lowest combined county+muni tax assessment of basically any decently-sized town or city in the state, and again, I don't think there's really any reasonable argument that can be made that Cary does far more with the money it does have for its residents. It's not like the Town is filled with crumbling streets and blocks of dilapidated town-owned properties collecting animals and crime.

      Making statements like "I expect the tax bills of Town homeowners will be reduced commensurately" is just…well, it comes off as fairly ignorant of the fact that Town homeowners are already paying the lowest tax rates in essentially the entire state, considering the quality of the town we live in and the services provided.

      • Curtis Leary
        Curtis Leary says:

        The DMV should contract an office space in the new design as the existing one on Maynard is too small and is not people friendly. Ample parking would be available and out of the weather for people waiting in line. Another plus is people may do some shopping or have lunch while there. To me this is a win-win opportunity.

      • George McDowell
        George McDowell says:

        @Mark – Disregarding the personal stuff, I agree with every fact you state in your letter. I appreciate that we pay the lowest rates in NC.

        My point, perhaps not well made, was that the Town needs a fixed amount of tax dollars for its operations. When development of the project is complete, and huge amounts of tax are paid on the buildings, the Town will then have a surplus of tax dollars.

        My suggestion is that the Town then reduce the tax rate, sharing its windfall with its citizens.

        • Gabe Talton
          Gabe Talton says:

          George McDowell is an announced 2019 candidate for Cary Town Council at-large challenging Lori Bush for those who don’t know.

        • Mark Neill
          Mark Neill says:

          “…the Town needs a fixed amount of tax dollars for its operations…”

          I will agree that your point, then wasn’t really clear. That’s a completely different statement. However, no it doesn’t.

          The number of residents changes every day. Water mains break. Storms wash out half of a greenway trail. Kids light a tunnel under a main roadway on fire. Accidents take out traffic control systems at intersections. Roads become too small and need expanded. Court cases need taken to trial or settled. Singular opportunities arise and present themselves.

          The idea that you can operate the government of a town (*) of 165K+ people on a fixed income whose rate is only reset every several years is, at the very least, ridiculous. There are too many variables in the day to day operations of the town, the people in and passing through the town, and the weather over the town, subject to complete random behavior for that to even be a possibility.

          (*) I think we can all agree that, at over 165,000 people, the idea that Cary is just a “town” is nothing but a name at this point. Per the 2017 census estimates, Cary is the 157th largest municipality in the entire country, and will very likely end up well into the top 150 come the 2020 census based on population growth over the last decade.

          • Paul Sanders
            Paul Sanders says:

            I completely support Mark’s analysis.

            @George – Why are you characterizing the needed tax revenue as a “windfall”? A windfall, to my knowledge, is normally characterized as an “unexpected good fortune”.

            If this development went through, it would do so with the assistance / planning of city workers and officials. These employees cost money.

            This development would use public water, sewer, and electricity resources. Which cost money.

            They would require health and safety inspectors to make sure people aren’t hurt or sick. Which costs money.

            This development will need to be serviced by local first responders (firemen, police and EMS). Which cost money.

            Wouldn’t any extra revenue generated be better spent on the public infrastructure that helps facilitate private development? Or to put it another way: You don’t see this development happening in Franklin county. It costs money to do so.

            Or if you want to play the fiscal conservative angle, wouldn’t it be better for us to spend excess revenue to pay down bond debt? Isn’t that a responsible measure that would be good for our children and grandchildren, rather than a short-sighted tax break that would only benefit the current generation?

            I look forward to your response.

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