Monday started with my weekly one on one meeting with the Deputy Town manager and one of the Assistant Town managers. We talked about several issues including the Academy Street construction which is now projected to finish around October. I was also told about an announcement that La Farm Bakery, which will open its second in downtown Cary, would be made Friday. This project had been in the works for quite some time so I was glad to finally hear that it was happening. Other topics included the state property next to the Wake Med soccer park, Jack Smith Park, the downtown park, and the Cary Chamber retreat that was held Thursday and Friday.
Tuesday I was presented a preliminary master plan of a development on Morrisville Carpenter Road near Davis Drive that will include a 130,000 square foot Wegmans. Wegmans is the number 1 rated grocery chain in the United States. In addition to the Wegmans the proposal includes a 162,600 square foot assisted living facility, 25,000 square feet of office, 3,600 square feet of retail, 15,600 square feet of child care, and 42,000 square feet of general residential and office. With this proposal there is a potential for the first two Wegmans in North Carolina to be in Cary.
Tuesday afternoon I contacted the Apex mayor about citizen concerns raised about an apartment proposal in Apex on the Cary border. Here are the points he made:
- The land is question is planned for high density.
- It is already situated next to apartments.
- It will have walking access to retail.
- It will have walking access to the park.
- The developer has reduced the number of units from 300 to 270 with 50% being one bedroom apartments.
- They will continue to work on traffic issues.
It is important to understand that Cary has no authority in Apex. However, Cary and Apex have a great working relationship. And the Apex mayor is always willing to work and discuss issues between our two municipalities.
Later Tuesday I met with a developer who recently proposed a storage facility behind the shopping center at Kildaire and Maynard that was denied. He expressed an interest in getting a waiver from the required one year waiting period after a proposal is denied. In addition, he is interested in getting two of the parcels of the original proposal rezoned to commercial without specifying what would be built. If that were approved then a council decision would not be required for a storage facility. If this is the case council will view this as a circumnavigation around the process. We’ll see how this moves forward.
Wednesday the council held a work session scheduled to cover three topics: The downtown library with the parking structure design, the Eastern Gateway Plan, and the 2017 council calendar. The council spent three and a half hours on the first two topics and decided to work on the 2017 council calendar after their August 4th quasi-judicial hearing.
Some of the takeaways from the work session on the design of the library and parking structure included:
- The parking structure wall facing the park will have a facade that looks trees during the day and include a firefly effect at night.
- Council asked that all other sides of the parking deck be addressed and options brought back at the August work session.
- The library will be mostly glass but will include some brick with windows that look similar to the Art Center to help tie the two structures together. Based on the sketches presented I estimate that 80% of the exterior will be glass.
- The council decided that the space under the library should have restrooms for the park, a lobby area, and an unfinished area for future use.
- In August the consultants will present the final building exterior character, the final public art integration, and the final site development plan.
- Bidding for this project will be in the summer of 2017.
- Construction is scheduled to be from August 2017 through October 2018.
This part of the work session took a little over an hour.
The work session on the Eastern Gateway lasted about two and a half hours. The Eastern Gateway is bounded by Chapel Hill Road to the north, Walnut Street to the south, I40 to the east, and Maynard Road to the west. Visions and designs were presented to council which was discussed at length resulting in a few changes. Some of the most interesting takeaways from this work session included:
- The State site which is bordered by Walnut Creek, Cary Town Boulevard, the future extension of Trinity Road, and Maynard will be an employment center with the majority of the square footage office, and the rest balanced between residential and retail. The idea is that the residential and retail will support the office.
- The soccer campus to the north of the state site will have the soccer park as the prominent anchor with future uses to enhance the park’s character.
- The Office campus which is bordered by Chatham Street, Cary Town Boulevard, I40, and the future Trinity Road will be high rise office. Some office buildings may be 20 stories. 80% to 90% of this space will be office with only a little supporting retail.
Other parts of this plan include area north of Chatham, east of the soccer campus, and the mall site. Some options will be brought back on how to best connect the mall site to the state site across Cary Town Boulevard. This will include bike and pedestrian access. The Eastern Gateway is part of the Imagine Cary process but has been accelerated to finish earlier.
Thursday I traveled with Mayor Pro-Tem Yerha to the Cary Planning Conference in Wrightsville Beach. I was surprised when I was asked to give remarks to the attendees before dinner. I thanked the crowd made up of a who’s who of those that have stepped up to help Cary in various ways. I then recognized our soon-to-be town manager and thanked him for attending.
Friday morning before the beginning of the planning conference sessions I had breakfast with the Wake County manager and we talked about the Hotel, Meal, and Beverage tax. He said that he and his staff will soon tour all of the current Cary facilities. This is a great start. I hope that from their tour they realize that Cary is truly an amateur sports mecca and is drawing thousands of people and creating millions of dollars in economic benefit. Bringing tourism and dollars to this area is the purpose of the tax.
Later I attended the morning sessions of the planning conference which included updates from the Wake County manager. Some of the take away points from that presentation included:
- Wake County is the second fastest growing county in the nation.
- It is adding a quarter of a million people every year.
- The population of Wake County will double by 2054.
He also talked about trends and transit.
The next presentation was from the Wake County School superintendent and a school board member. Some of the take away points from that presentation included:
- 2000 students are being added every year or about 1 classroom a day.
- The school system has a $1.4 billion operating cost.
- They are aware of the problems caused by the cap at Mills Park but it will probably stay for the near future.
They did state that they get up-to-date accurate information from Cary that helps them plan.
I next introduced Sean Stegall who will be our next town manager. He talked about why Cary is so special and why he wants to be in Cary. He will be sworn in on August 4th at 7:30.
The last topic before lunch was from the Executive Director of the Regional Transportation Alliance. He talked about the transit plan and the upcoming bond referendum. He made one point that people might not be aware of. The vote in the fall is the funding of the plan not a vote on the plan. The plan has already been approved.
After the morning sessions were complete the Mayor Pro-Tem and I returned to Cary.
Emails from citizens this week included:
- Complaints about proposed apartments in Apex on the Cary border.
- Complaints about proposed hotels off Harrison Avenue (council has not seen the proposal).
- A suggestion to change water restriction guidelines.
- Complaints about a proposed Sheetz station in Northwoods.
- Questions about the Cary Town Center mall.
- A correction that I inadvertently called firestation 2 firestation 9. (The new station was the 9th station but was named 2 and the old 2 was named 9. How confusing is that?)
- Questions and concerns about the new downtown library.
- And a question about a 1 year waiting period waiver from proposals that have been denied (It takes 6 out of 7 to approve a waiver).
Next week will include a regularly scheduled council meeting on Monday which is very unusual. Activities also include a ribbon cutting, and a meeting with a school board member.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, July 31st. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to email@example.com.