Study identifies site for RTP redevelopment start

Sep. 19, 2013 @ 05:56 PM

The effort to redevelop the Research Triangle Park to make it more appealing to a future generation of businesses is expected to start with 50 acres at the corner of Davis Drive and Cornwallis Road.

Bob Geolas, president and CEO of the Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina, the nonprofit that manages the 7,000-acre business park, said that’s what a market study revealed that was completed earlier this year.

The study was done by the foundation’s development partner Hines, an international real estate firm with a U.S. headquarters in Houston, Geolas said. Hines redirected a media inquiry to the foundation.

Geolas said the study showed that the market could initially handle 1.5 million square feet of development in that part of the park. Erin Monday, a spokeswoman for the foundation, said the development would include 650,000 square feet of office space, 200,000 square feet of new retail development, 250 hotel rooms, and 300 residential units.

Those numbers aren’t set in stone, Monday said in an email, but could rise or fall depending on market conditions or financing or other factors.

“This will change and evolve,” Geolas said.

The development would just be one initial piece of what is expected to be a larger, mixed-use development cluster dubbed “Triangle Commons.” That mixed-use cluster would be one of three new high-density development clusters. Those were identified in the park’s new master plan, unveiled in November of last year.

A second redevelopment cluster is targeted for a group of buildings known as Park Center. And the third would be a large-scale research concentration area called Kit Creek Center. Located in the Wake County portion of the park surrounding Kit Creek Lakes, the cluster would create a “critical mass” of research operations.

Park leaders have launched the redevelopment effort as there’s limited land left to develop in the Research Triangle Park, and also to attract entrepreneurs and businesses whose employees desire amenities such as places to eat and close to where they work. They also want to retain existing businesses.

Geolas said no land has been committed for the project yet, but he said foundation officials have been in talks with landowners. He also said work has been done to change covenants to lay the foundation for the project, and park officials have started work with local governments.

Already, a state law was passed to carve out special tax districts within the park’s boundaries to allow for residential development. Former Gov. Beverly Perdue signed a bill last year allowing for the creation of the districts. They were created to allow for raising taxes to cover services needed for residential and retail development.