Jon Kane: A Strategic View of Development

Story and photo by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – The Heart of Cary meeting on Thursday morning was literally standing room only for a presentation by Jon Kane, the developer of North Hills.

A Who’s Who and Some Fine Baked Goods

Close to 50 downtown business owners, residents and public officials packed the Cary Chamber for the 8 o’clock meeting. It was a who’s who of downtown leadership including Ed Gawf, Ralph and Daphne Ashworth, Scott Ashworth, Sheila and Carroll Ogle, Don and Lisa Frantz, Howard Johnson and Sandy Jordan of the Chamber, Captain Don Hamilton of the Police, property owners Bill Taylor and Curtis Westbrook and many other civic and business leaders.

Tasty baked goods including Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread were supplied by Great Harvest and sponsored by CaryCitizen.

Down to Business

After some HoCA business, Doc Thorne turned the floor over to Jon Kane.

In a nutshell, Mr. Kane started with a small property that held a single drug store and turned it into one of the signature developments in the Triangle – North Hills.

In less than a dozen years, Kane Realty Corporation has expanded the project to over 100 acres of mixed use retail, residential, entertainment and office.

Fill In The Blank

Mr. Kane talked about North Hills, but the audience didn’t have much trouble picturing the parallels to downtown Cary.

The developer began with a simple statement relating to his own project. He asked the audience to complete this sentence:

“If you’re going to Raleigh, you have to go to _________”

What fills in the blank? Kane Realty set out to make North Hills the answer to that question.

Ingredients of a Successful Development

As he clicked through his slides, Jon Kane ticked off a list of ingredients that make a successful redevelopment on a community scale:

  • Areas to just “hang out”
  • Office above retail (makes life efficient)
  • Emphasis on unique, quality design and architecture
  • Lots of things to do , and easy to do them
  • Importance of events – days, nights and weekends
  • Be strategic about how parking fits into the development
At North Hills, you can go to the supermarket, lease an office, hit the gym, get a latte, see a movie, hear a band. You can shop ’til you drop, catch a meal, stay at a hotel, get a spa treatment and, maybe soon, ride your own personal pod transportation from one end of the development to the other.

Optimism for Downtown Cary Redevelopment

Mr. Kane identified a key strength in Cary’s revitalized effort downtown as broadly based community buy-in, from individual business owners to elected officials and landowners.

Fill In The Blank

Jon Kane closed by challenging members of the Heart of Cary Association to fill in their own blank:

“If you’re visiting Cary, you must go to ______________.”

Heart of Cary meetings are free and open to the public. For more information, visit Heart of Cary Association.

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5 replies
  1. JEY
    JEY says:

    If you are visiting Cary, you must go to——-
    1. Hemlock Bluffs
    2. Bond Park
    3. Booth Ampitheatre/Regency Lake
    3. Page Walker Hotel
    4. Black Creek Greenway into Umstead Park

    NOT…to a mall with a Target as anchor.
    If the visitor wants more junk made in China, send them to North Hills. Mr. Kane’s can have his strategic view of development, but Cary does not need it. We have something much better, please let’s keep it that way.

  2. Scott Korbin
    Scott Korbin says:

    Jey, I’m a big fan of Cary myself, but respectfully, John was making a point about creating a “destination,” with the criteria of a successful development noted in the article above.

    None of the locations you sited meet any of those criteria.
    You really should visit North Hills. We won’t ever be like it in Cary Downtown, true. But we can be inspired by John and his remarkable achievements. Many already have been inspired, and will act on those inspirations.

  3. Don
    Don says:

    North Hills is nothing but a newer version of what an older downtown Cary (or older town) used to be. Can be done.

  4. Jim
    Jim says:

    One interesting item of note about downtown Cary is that in the space of a mile on Chatham St. there are 14+ Auto repair/sales shops. I don’t know why there are so many or how they can all be supported, but it doesn’t exactly help things if you want to bring people downtown. You certainly can’t tell them to shut down, they have a right to be there, but you can do things like see if any of them are open minded to move and help them with the process if they are, perhaps provide a couple of grants to reface a couple to be consistent with the downtown vision, and if you have the money, buy a couple of them out and accept requests for proposals for new businesses.

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