We usually write about new store openings or construction taking place around town. Fo this month’s column we thought we would take a look at what no one is talking about: The Empty Places.
Believe it or not, despite having a “low vacancy rate” in Cary, we do have some glaringly empty large parcels scattered around town, where lone chain restaurants, drugstores, and grocery stores used to do a booming business. Where are they? Let’s take a look.
Around The Mall
The mall obviously has a few of its own large empty spaces, but in the surrounding out parcels several spots have been tough to fill. La Madeleine– french bakery and cafe was only in its building about a year after taking over for a similar chain franchise operation. No buisness has ever seemed to stay here long..
Across the street, adjacent to the Barnes and Noble shopping plaza are two other empty buildings, formerly chain restaurants as well. Five Guys occupied one for several years and Macaroni Grill was in the other.
Not far from the mall on Cary Towne Blvd is the large former Performance Bicycle store that closed at the beginning of 2019.
Kildaire Farm Road
Everyone is familiar with the empty Carrabba’s about dead center on Kildaire Farm Road,. Its the building with the “green roof” which is slowing dying from neglect on the building that housed this chain. Carrabba’s as a chain is thriving elsewhere in the country, and even in the Triangle, but could not make it in Cary, where everyone is trying to open a restaurant these days. Up the road from this spot is the empty Newk’s which was previously one of Niall Handy’s Hibernian Pubs for many years and was something before that. A former Ruby Tuesdays sits empty near the Walmart in Crescent Green off of Kildaire.
In this area is also one of the many empty former Rite Aid drugstores, which closed at least 4 stores in Cary when they were bought out by Walgreens.
A former Ruby Tuesdays sits empty near the Walmart in Crescent Green off of Kildaire.
One of the out-parcels of Waverly Place was T Mac which remodelled and opened in the former Red, Hot and Blue. That is the only restaurant empty over at Waverly, as they are ready to open a brand new space with The Shack Shack later this year.
In the Centrum Plaza (the development where BJ’s Warehouse is located, along with Joann’s Fabrics and World Market) there are a few large restaurant buildings sitting vacant so long the weeds are growing tall in the medians and in the shrubbery adjacent to the building. We used to take our kids to Sweet Tomatoes when they were young. I also remember hating buffet dining with children as no one ever sat down long enough to have a healthy conversation. The food wasn’t great either. Sweet Tomatoes and its neighbor Wild Wing Cafe have been empty for ages.
Also in Crossroads is the huge hulk of the empty Toy R Us big box store which average about 23,000 square feet. According to the Triangle Business Journal two of the four vacant Triangle Toys R Us stores are being repurposed.no Official word on the Crossroads location.
Mostly its all-new west of NC 55 in Cary, but there are occasional closing that results in a large empty space. Nothing stays empty for long out there. Even Field and Stream became Hobby Lobby eventually. But while the Learning Express still does gangbusters over next to Walmart and Harris Teeter in Crescent Commons off Kildaire, they recently closed the new store in Parkside Town Commons. I expect its low foot traffic and high use of internet shopping spelled its demise.
Off of Cary Parkway in Preston Walk (near James Jackson Road) we recently learned that Eighty-8 Asian Bistro closed on June 23. This location started as a Mexican concept over 15 years ago, changed to a hibachi place, and was the home of Eighty-8 for the last two years. It’s a big space, and hard to fill. We are sad to see this one go, the food was great. For those looking to follow Chef Dai Nguyen, they started a food truck with the same name back in March.
Park West doesn’t have many closures and has mostly leased out the space in the former Gander Mountain store. That big box store was well over 50,000 square feet and is the new home of a Michael’s and a Home Goods with one empty storefront in between. There is also a small empty space that was a former Starbuck’s which closed this past winter. How can a Starbuck’s not make it in Morrisville/Cary?
While we know the mall will be redeveloped and The Fenton is coming. The Cary area still has plenty of vacant space to lease at Waverly Place and Park West Village. The freestanding out-parcel empties mentioned in this article are going to take a while to absorb, or may simply meet the wrecking ball one day soon.
If you know of additional spots we missed, please feel free to add them to the comments, and we will update this article.
Story and photos by Lindsey Chester