CARY, N.C. (WNCN) – In its Thursday meeting, the Cary Town Council unanimously approved a new 5-story development in downtown Cary called Meridian East Chatham.
The Meridian development project will bring 220 apartments, approximately 8,200 square feet of ground-floor retail space, and a 348-space parking structure deck to downtown between East Chatham Street and East Cedar Street and directly across from Hunter Street.
Construction could begin as early as this summer, Cary’s economic development director Ted Boyd said.
“The Meridian development project reflects an $87.5 million private investment in the core of our downtown, bringing 300-plus new downtown residents and over 60 jobs which will continue to fuel our downtown revitalization,” Boyd said.
The property is made up of 8 parcels owned by the development team, totaling 4.9-acres.
Within the plan for development are several public improvement considerations, including the donation of .76 acres to the Town of Cary as a right-of-way to make an extension of Hunter Street to connect northward with Cedar Street. This connection, as several councilmembers noted, has been something long in the works.
The shaded area in red to the west of the street extension represents where the development would be, covering approximately 3 acres. The remaining 1+ acre portion of the land will be available for future development, Boyd said.
Council approves, agrees to $2.1 million investment
In approving the project Thursday, the council also appropriated $1.37 million of its general fund balance to the project which will see a total investment of $2,106,000 from the town. Here’s how it breaks down.
- $1.55 million will be paid by the town in bid development fees
- $788,428 will be used from the existing bid development fund
- $761,572 was appropriated from the general fund in Thursday’s meeting
- $556,000 will be paid by the town as contribution to the street improvements
- This was also appropriated from the general fund in Thursday’s meeting
During his presentation, Boyd explained that the town adopted a “business improvement district” in 2012. Since that time, Cary has been paying bits of development fees associated with bringing new businesses to this area as what Boyd called “a tool to help advance the timing of private development.”
This subarea, Boyd said, will experience “significant transformation” since the plan calls for the “most intense pattern of development and building height while providing multi-family, residential, employment and commercial opportunities.” This area will also be along the planned bus rapid transit line.
Town Manager Sean Stegall reinforced that the investments made by the Town to incentivize this project are projected to return fairly quickly. “All the incentive we’re providing, we’ll get back in 3 years,” he said.
“The impact fee mitigation is nothing new to us,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Don Frantz. “This is something we’ve been doing for a decade now, it just might seem like a lot because this is the first major project that we’ve had come across. This is the exact reason that we actually created a business improvement district–as a way to incentivize private investment such as this.”
Frantz also commended the applicant for donating more than $1 million worth of property to the town to enable the Hunter Street improvements.
Councilmember Jennifer Robinson took a “larger picture” approach in her comments, pointing out that the council should look at their standards set for developers in the downtown area.
“I don’t want to stymie downtown development at all, but it might be time for us to just go back and look at our standards for our downtown … to make sure that our standards are now still appropriate for this urban environment we are creating,” Robinson said.
Frantz agreed and suggested they look at those standard following this project and to also look at the standards set outside of downtown.