IKEA could revitalize area around Cary Towne Center, residents say

CARY, N.C. (WNCN) - Neighbors got chance to look at the plans and talk with representatives of IKEA Thursday evening as the company works to bring a much-anticipated store to the Triangle.

IKEA's proposal to build at the Cary Towne Center mall would bring the company's first store to the region. The next closest location is in Charlotte.

Long-time residents of Cary say it's an opportunity to revitalize this part of town, as the mall has seen major retailers close in recent years.

"Oh, it's gone down. It's gone down terribly. This used to be the place to come and there's nothing here," said Diane Zakariassen, who lives in Cary. "The people that are gonna come here, business is gonna boom."

IKEA's plans call for a 359,000 square-foot building as well as 1,000 parking spaces. The project involves the demolition of the old Macy's and Sears. The Town of Cary's impact analysis cited additional improvements including to the Interstate-40 off-ramp onto Cary Towne Boulevard as well as to the access points to the mall.

Ilona Fegan lives near the mall is looking forward to the store opening, but she also has concerns about traffic. In addition to IKEA's proposal, Columbia Development has proposed a project nearby that would be anchored by Wegmans and is being billed as Cary's version of Raleigh's North Hills.

"I live off Walnut Street, and coming off U.S. 1 I'm worried that we'll never be able to get out of our subdivision," she said.

IKEA spokesman Joseph Roth said the store will generate 300 full- and part-time jobs as well as 500 construction jobs.

The company submitted its plans to the town in the spring, which includes rezoning requests. Public hearings will take place later this year. If the company receives the necessary approvals, demolition would begin in the fall of 2018, with the goal of opening by the fall of 2020.

"So, we're very attracted to the opportunity that exists here at the mall and their vision for redevelopment, and we're thrilled with our proposal," said Roth. "Defintiely, IKEA is known for having a regional draw and for bringing lots of customers into any area where it locates. And, definitely that's what we're planning to do here in Cary."

The group CaryForward invited IKEA to Thursday's meeting. Co-founder Michelle Muir said she hopes the project will lead to other retailers filling the vacant spaces in and near the mall.

"Online retail has changed a lot of how people shop, but that doesn't mean there isn't a place for good retail spaces that can add vibrancy to a community," said Michelle Muir.

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