Cary Towne Center

Harold’s Blog: Cary Towne Center, Veterans Day and More

Cary, NC – This week was a slow week due to the holiday.

Monday – Veterans Day

Monday was Veteran’s Day which included a program at the Veteran’s Memorial in Cary. Veterans and their families have given so much to protect our freedom and keep us safe. If you see a veteran, please thank them for their service.

Tuesday – Cary Towne Center

Tuesday I met with developers who are proposing to redevelop the mall site. My main two points for this meeting was the potential traffic and the aesthetics, especially the multi-family along Walnut. The developer’s representative sent this information about the traffic:

  • “At the request of Council, we took the daily trip generation for both the existing mall zoning and the proposed development from the TAR and broke out the volumes hour-by-hour using hourly distributions from the ITE Trip Generation Manual. As shown on the attached graphic, at full build-out the proposed development is expected to generate almost exactly the same amount of traffic as the existing mall would under full utilization. The proposed development is expected to generate more AM peak hour trips than the mall. This is not surprising as we are replacing retail space that was not open in the morning with office space and residential units that have people coming and going during the AM peak.
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The graph described above showing traffic generated by the redeveloped Cary Towne Center mall

  • Whereas a good portion of the mall traffic came to/from Town, it is anticipated that most of the traffic from the proposed development, the office and residential especially, will be going toward I-40 or US 1.
  • We performed an analysis of the two signalized entrances to the site (Cary Towne Boulevard at Convention Drive and Walnut Street at Cary Towne Center) to see how much more traffic could be added with the improvements being performed at these intersections. We found that both of these intersections will still operate at an acceptable level-of-service (i.e. LOS D or better) even if the development traffic were increased by 50%. This 50% increase is equivalent to the addition of over 3,000 more apartment units (or over 4,800 total) within the development.
  • The additional traffic associated with the proposed rezoning is expected to account for less than 3% of the total traffic at the intersections of Maynard Road at Cary Towne Boulevard and Maynard Road at Walnut Street. By contrast, the Fenton development will account for approximately 10-13% of the total traffic at these intersections. The applicant is offering to provide the right-of-way for the improvements at these intersections so that they can be made in the future.”

So in summary, the traffic manuals estimates the traffic generated would be virtually the same as the full functioning mall except for the morning rush hour. This is based on the proposal of 900-1800 apartments. The two mall signalized entrances, one on Walnut Street and one on Cary Towne Boulevard, are proposed to be in the same location and would experience a 3% increase in traffic. In fact, those entrances could see a total of 4800 multi-family units before they would fail. Traffic at the Walnut-Maynard and the Cary Towne-Maynard intersections are another story. They are already an issue and will require improvements regardless of this proposal. And if the town builds a community center on the mall site then the town and the mall owners would be responsible for the improvements at the Walnut-Maynard and the Cary Towne-Maynard intersections. It is important to point out that traffic measurements included the Fenton buildout. The Fenton project is responsible for several road improvements including some at the I40 interchange.

The aesthetics of the proposal would be based on a mutually agreed upon guidebook. Residential along Walnut Street the height could be as much as six stories for multi-family. This would have a 35-foot streetscape on Walnut including a 10-foot sidewalk, a landscaping buffer, upper and lower story trees. The guidebook shows high end units that vary in their relation to Walnut Street to prevent that wall feel. In addition, the building could and should be broken into two or more buildings instead of one. Staff has said they will be very aggressive enforcing the guidebook.

This proposal will go to the council for a vote in December.

My last meeting on Tuesday was with the group representing the Daughters of the American Revolution who are looking to expand on the play they did a couple of months ago (where I played George Washington). It is my hope that this play becomes an annual event including activities before/after the play. In addition, we might see a play for our 150th celebration.

Saturday – North Carolina Children’s Day

Saturday I joined council member Robinson in celebrating the Hindu Indian Association of North Carolina’s Children’s Day. I made a few remarks and read a proclamation. Children’s Day was to allow children in the community to showcase Indian dances, music, art and fashions. It also provides them the ability to demonstrate leadership skills by running the entire show on their own. Honors and awards were also presented at this event.

Town Manager’s Report

The town manager’s report for this week included the following:

Honoring our Veterans

Council members Ed Yerha, Ken George and Don Frantz joined Council Member Jack Smith and nearly 400 other veterans and guests for Cary’s annual Veterans Day Lunch at Herb Young Community Center on Friday, November 8. Council Member Jack Smith introduced Congressman David Price and Paul S. Crews, Director of the Durham VA Health Care System, for comments and the keynote address. More than 60 volunteers served lunch while entertainment was provided by the Cary Town Band and the Cary Christian School Concert Choir.

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Cary Mayor

Pictured above is WWII veteran and Cary resident Fred Reidenbach, USMS, one of approximately 300 people who gathered at the Veterans Freedom Park on November 11. Councilman Smith opened the day, introducing The Old North State Brass Band and welcoming speakers Lt. Col. Bernardine Donato and Chaplain Carmen Battle. Councilman Yerha read a proclamation. Attendees were encouraged to write the names of friends or family members who served in the armed forces on tags attached to plastic soldiers representing the branches they served in. The North Carolina USO provided bottled water. New this year was a WWII display which included vehicles, weaponry, and artifacts. Thanks to all who came out to honor our local heroes!

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All Hands

After experimenting with format and frequency and working closely with Organizational Development Manager Allison Hutchins and our team at CRA, we’ve established what appears to be an effective approach to our All Hands meetings. In addition to presenting and taking questions, I share time with a staff member who talks about recent work as it relates to our co-created culture. This week featured Luke Guthrie who did an amazing job talking about collaboratively creating the new registration experience for PRCR programs and facilities, which launches in December; Council will recall your preview from Luke and Wilson Farrell at our August Quarterly. For my part, I provided an update on the November Quarterly Meeting and talked about our work with CRA to increase the effectiveness of our internal communications.

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Rezoning Application Withdrawn

The applicant has withdrawn the Weldon Ridge rezoning case (17-REZ-13). The request was to rezone 62 acres on the west side of Yates Store Road south of New Hope Church Road to amend the Weldon Ridge Planned Development District (PDD) to allow for additional residential units and to move the location of the school site to front on Yates Store Road. With this withdrawal, the existing entitlements for the S 1 and SF 6 tracts of the Weldon Ridge PDD remain in place. These existing entitlements allow 46 residential units and a school and religious assembly use. If the applicant develops under the existing entitlements, a development plan may be submitted and approved administratively. Staff sent notification of the withdrawal to all citizens who have contacted staff and council members with questions and concerns throughout the duration of this rezoning case.

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Transit Advocacy

GoCary Transit Administrator, Kelly Blazey, traveled to Washington, DC to thank our congressional delegation for their continued support of transit initiatives. The North Carolina Public Transportation Association (NCPTA) met with staff from all 13 North Carolina congressional offices as well as the House Transportation & Infrastructure and Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs sub-committees, APTA, CTAA and FTA to discuss the importance of a reauthorization of the FAST Act, continued funding for capital investment grants, and increased support for formula funds. In 2018, transit agencies in NC provided over 6 million trips and had an economic impact of over $800 million.

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Walker Street Improvements

On November 4, Bruce Allen Construction Company installed traffic control devices to temporarily close the intersection of Chatham Street and Walker Street. The temporary intersection closure is necessary to complete underground storm drainage, sewer line repairs, water line improvements and new underground conduits for relocation of overhead utilities. Cary police and staff continue to monitor traffic flow and parking on adjacent streets to ensure traffic is maintained adjacent to the intersection closure. Driveways to citizens, churches and businesses impacted by the intersection closure are being maintained. Before the closure, nearly forty “Downtown Businesses OPEN During Construction”signs were installed at strategic locations. As of November 9, the storm drainage, sewer repairs and underground conduits were substantially complete. Water line improvements, grading and paving were scheduled for November 10-18 but, due to the rain, the intersection opening will be delayed until the middle of next week.

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Local Heroes

Northwoods Elementary School held their annual “Local Heroes Day” on November 8. Cary staff from Public Works and Police demonstrated their equipment and answered questions about their jobs. Personnel from the US Army and the NC Highway Patrol also attended, showing their equipment and informing the students of their functions in the community.

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Special Olympics Event

The Special Olympics Basketball Skills competition was held at the Middle Creek Community Center Thursday and Friday. Competition was intense, but not as intense as the fun for both athletes and volunteers.

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Cosmic Dodgeball

Thirty middle schoolers enjoyed pizza, music and glow-in-the-dark Cosmic Asteroids Dodgeball at Middle Creek Community Center last Friday night.

Construction Symposium Panel

Jerry Jensen, Director of Transportation & Facilities, served as a panelist at the 4th Annual Construction Symposium sponsored by the North Carolina Chapter of Construction Management Association of America (CMAA). Also serving on the panelist team were Joe Milazzo, Executive Director of Regional Transportation Alliance, Michael Moore, Director of Transportation for the City of Raleigh, and Matt Cecil, Transit Development Manager for the Town of Chapel Hill. Panelists addressed the future of Transportation in the Triangle, with most information centered around bus rapid transit coming to the Triangle.

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PHOENIX

Officer Lekisha Branch partners with residents and management staff of the Park at Crossroads to become involved in community affairs and tailor services to the unique characteristics and needs of the community. Property Manager Marsha Amy Dutkowski said, “Lekisha is the best PHOENIX Officer ever! She is so responsive and informative and always willing to help in any way she can.”

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Recognition

Congratulations to Cary Police Sgt. Chris Redig, recent graduate of the 85th session of the North Carolina State University Administrative Officers Management Program. During this 12-week course, Chris earned NCSU graduate level credits in Public Administration for Police Supervisors, Managing Police Organizational Behavior, Special Topics in Public Administration, Constitutional and Legal Principles for Police Supervisors, and Applied Police Research.

Advisory Board Meetings

Athletic Committee

Mon, 11/18, 6pm

Town Hall Conf Room 11130

Planning and Zoning Board

Mon, 11/18, 6:30pm

Town Hall Council Chambers

Cary150 Task Force

Tues, 11/19, 6:15pm

Town Hall Conf Room 10035

 Emails From Citizens

Emails from citizens included the following:

  • A complaint about a lack of affordable housing.
  • A complaint about the RDU Airport Authority’s plans for a quarry.
  • A complaint about Cary purchasing two ladder fire trucks.
  • A complaint about proposed apartments on Piney Plains Road.
  • A complaint about a development proposal on Green Level Church Road.
  • A question about Morrisville’s actions on the Crabtree Crossing extension.
  • A petition from Fryars Gate to put a traffic signal on Morrisville Parkway (Only NCDOT has authority to approve traffic signals)
  • A request to move recycling to once a week (This would double our cost. A better solution would be to ask for addition recycling bins).

Next week’s activities include staff meetings, a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association, a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Executive Committee, the Chinese Lantern Festival preview event, the Hometown Spirit Award, a regularly scheduled council meeting, and the Waverly Place tree lighting.

Get In Touch

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, November 24th.  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 augustanat@mindspring.com.


From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Photos courtesy of Harold Weinbrecht and Michael Papich.

17 replies
  1. Richard Wilson
    Richard Wilson says:

    Reading about the traffic study made me wonder about a few things:
    –What day(s) of the week and what day of the year is used for the comparison? Remember December mall traffic?
    –It sounds like the comparison is an estimation done by a projection using some kind of generalized data from the ITE manual and various equations. Is that right?
    –I imagine we have lots of our own data about the traffic around the mall when it was functioning at full capacity. Is there a comparison of our real traffic data to the results of this study?
    –Does the study include traffic on Cary Towne Blvd and Walnut street that will be be generated by the Downtown development currently underway?

    Reply
  2. Owen Evans
    Owen Evans says:

    You drop a bombshell of a throwaway line here: “…if the town builds a community center on the mall site…”

    This is the first I’ve heard of this, more details please? Is this the 250,000 square foot multi-sport facility that the Town proposed for the county RFP? If so, bravo; this would be a perfect spot for it! Maybe site it right next to Triangle Aquatic Center and make a complex out of it. Or is this something else?

    As you may recall, I’m a fan of the idea of building a new (non-athletically focused) community center to replace the Herb Young center on the Old Library Site downtown, and then selling the Herb Young Site to a developer. I hope that a comminuty center at CTC would not be exclusive of this possibility.

    Reply
    • Harold Weinbrecht
      Harold Weinbrecht says:

      Mr. Evans,

      Sorry that you are surprised about this. I have mentioned this in my blog before. The county has set aside a block of money from the hotel-meal occupancy tax for the purpose of a center for entertainment. Cary will be bidding for this. If Cary gets this then the mall redevelopment would have to be amended. The current proposal does not have the community center. Which means the location of the potential center has not been determined.

      Thanks,
      Harold Weinbrecht

      Reply
      • Owen Evans
        Owen Evans says:

        I guess I don’t read your blog religiously so I may have missed something. I was aware of the proposed 250,000sf facility, and I was aware that it was proposed to go in the Eastern Gateway part of town, but that’s a big area: that could mean Wake Med Soccer Park, or Fenton, or here at the CTC site. This is the first time that I’ve heard anyone mention that the preferred location is CTC (assuming that it can be worked out with the developer.)

        Reply
  3. Katie Greenwood
    Katie Greenwood says:

    Hi. Thank you for the information on the mall redevelopment. What I don’t see mentioned is upgrading/making safer the other intersections along Walnut St. between Maynard and Rt 1 & 64. I lived off Of Debra Dr. for ten years and the intersections at Ivy Lane, Greenwood Circle, and particularly Kingston Ridge Rd. are very dangerous. Even with lights, Lawrence and Sturdivant are scary too. As more of the residences along Walnut St. are sold as commercial it will compound the problem. The other concern is the poor signage for the highways. Because of the sign placement so many people (particularly going north) u-turn in odd places (no longer on the bridge thank goodness!) or have to suddenly shove across several lanes to get to the ramps after they see the small signs way over on the right indicating they need to turn left. So though I’m very excited about both the mall and Fenton I can’t help but be skeptical about the traffic estimates and what it means for those who use Walnut St. Anyone who travels on Walnut St. every day will understand what I’m talking about.

    Reply
    • Harold Weinbrecht
      Harold Weinbrecht says:

      Hi Katie,

      As someone who travels on Walnut Street every day I share your concerns about traffic. Please know that the town has little to no authority to require the developer to make traffic improvements (thanks to the legislature) offsite. However, we will be doing all we can to make sure intersections are improved and are safe. We will work with NCDOT, who maintains the intersections at US1/64, to make sure those are safe as well. We work well with NCDOT and I am confident they will continue to work with us on issues such as signage. Having said all of that, yes traffic will be more than it is today on Walnut and Cary Town Boulevard.

      Thanks,
      Harold Weinbrecht

      Reply
  4. Elizabeth Ryan
    Elizabeth Ryan says:

    It is a good review. I am confused, however, at reactions to visibility and attractiveness of housing on the Walnut Street side, but no mention of the extreme ugliness of having a multi-story parking garage at the main mall corner on Maynard and Towne Center drive.
    Crabtree Valley and North Hills both put their parking structures on the back side. Who wants to see a concrete wall at the entrance?

    Reply
    • Harold Weinbrecht
      Harold Weinbrecht says:

      Hi Elizabeth,

      Sorry I wasn’t clear. There is a guide book that controls the aesthetics of the entire project. My comments were focused on the two points of my meeting with developer representatives, one of which was the Walnut Street view. Please know that we care about the entire aesthetics of the proposal and will leave no stone unturned. You will not see a concrete wall.

      Thanks,
      Harold Weinbrecht

      Reply
      • Owen Evans
        Owen Evans says:

        I completely agree with Elizabeth’s comment.

        Having a massive parking deck facing Cary Towne Blvd is unacceptable.
        I don’t care how pretty the aesthetic screening is. It could be the prettiest screening in the world, if it’s only aesthetic, it’s just lipstick on a pig and it would still suck.

        It seems they are planning to have active uses in front of the deck facing the interior of the development; the same treatment *must* be afforded Cary Towne Boulevard. This development should put on a good face towards the public roadways that surround it, on all sides. The massive deck needs to be have active uses wrapping it on the majority of both the north site (Cary Towne Blvd) side AND the south side (Internal street). The north side is the side that will potentially be facing the BRT line, and it’s an insult to customers and residents arriving by bus that the first thing they see is an inevitably ugly parking deck.

        If there is one thing I really have a difficult time accepting is developments that point their pretty faces towards their internal corridors and streets, and then show an ugly rear end towards the streets on the outside of the development.

        Cary got this completely right with the plan for the development around the parking deck at the downtown park. It’s going to be wrapped on all sides by active uses. Excellent.

        Another example of a much more massive parking deck that still gets it right, is the Gateway Village parking deck in Charlotte at 700 West Trade Street. That is an ENORMOUS parking deck. It has something like 2,000 parking spaces, and yet you wouldn’t know it since it is framed on both sides (Trade and 5th) with attractive single-loaded residential buildings.

        Cary should demand the same of the developer at CTC.

        I’m not saying they need to have retail shops on the ground level facing Cary Towne Boluevard, though that would be nice; they DO need to put some apartments along that side screening the full height of the parking deck, and include some active uses like a lobby, fitness center, or apartments along the majority of the ground level.

        Reply
      • Owen Evans
        Owen Evans says:

        In conclusion – we can’t have this development be a standard development like Park West Village, where there is a walkable corridor deep within, but the outside is auto-oriented big boxes and outparcels like fast food joints and drive-through banks. Even the vaunted North Hills commits this sin. Fenton does too. The walkable area needs to be on the outside, easily accessible from the public roadway, especially from where the BRT will be.

        Making this clear right now costs the town nothing. This development is nothing but lines on a paper now. Once the dirt starts getting turned, it will be too late.

        Reply
        • Gary
          Gary says:

          re: Park West Village

          Very walkable, we park in the center and walk outward to the perimeter to any shop, restaurant. Parking is a disaster though, where they stuffed all the restaurants and not enough spaces, especially when all the office workers from Weston Pkwy wish to get lunch.

          Little-known greenway-like paved path behind Target. Very safe to walk. Usually spot an occasional delivery truck parked with driver taking a nap behind the various stores.

          Parkside Town Commons is exactly the opposite. Try walking from Chick-Fil-A to Hobby Lobby! What a hot mess!

          Reply
  5. Michelle Renick
    Michelle Renick says:

    I would prefer a third party review of the traffic effects and include the additional effects of the Fenton development in conjunction with the mall site. I think the statements by the developer seem a little “light” in their assumptions. I am interested in the project but I think a third party analysis will give us a more realistic view and allow us to prepare for this influx.

    Reply
    • Len Nieman
      Len Nieman says:

      I agree. Just from looking at the plans, you can’t help feeling Cary Towne Blvd is going to look like an L.A. freeway at rush hour once Fenton and Cary Towne Center are both completed. And I still think the Walnut St. exit near the gas station is going to be a problem with people going right and cutting across all the Walnut St. traffic lanes to turn left onto SE Maynard.

      Reply
      • Mark Neill
        Mark Neill says:

        That exit-and-drive-across is pretty easy to fix with a set of traffic barriers on the line between the turn and travel lanes, that goes back farther than that exit – if that exit even stays.

        There’s no reason people that want to turn left onto Maynard from Walnut can’t exit at the light or the AT&T store exits.

        Reply
      • Owen Evans
        Owen Evans says:

        Residential and hotels don’t generate nearly as much peak traffic as retail and office uses. It’s been a while, but the amount of traffic generated by this 1.3 million square foot mall in its heyday was pretty enormous, to me it is pretty reasonable that this won’t be much (or any) worse.

        Reply

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