New Cary Towne Center owners want to add offices, hotel and townhomes to struggling mall

Just like nearly every other shopping mall in the greater Triangle area, Cary Towne Center is embarking on a large redevelopment of its property.

After losing big-box tenants — legacy retailers JCPenney, Sears and Macy’s — and losing out on another potentially transformative one — furnishing giant IKEA — the mall was bought by Turnbridge Equities and its joint-venture partner Denali Properties earlier this year for $31.5 million.

TopGolf spurned the mall, as well.

Now its new owners have revealed some of their plans for the mall, submitting a rezoning request and a preliminary development plan to the Town of Cary to add office space, residential units and a hotel to the property.

The request asks for a maximum of 1.2 million square feet of office space, 360,000 square feet of commercial space and 1,800 residential units. The preliminary plan, which is subject to change, also asks for the potential of a 300-room hotel and an 8-story parking deck off Cary Towne Boulevard.

The plan breaks down most of the property, except for the Dillard’s, into 16-block chunks, with different uses proposed on each one. Each block also has varying height requests, ranging from three stories to 12 stories in some cases. Nearly 90,000 square feet of open space is included in the plan as well.

The plan notes that the redevelopment of the mall would be done in three phases.

In a statement, Jason Davis, managing director of Turnbridge, said that a rezoning was necessary to rejuvenate the mall.

“Since acquiring Cary Towne Center in January, and amid the declining retail environment and ongoing store closures at the mall, we have begun taking steps to revitalize the property,” Davis said. “... The property offers a tremendous opportunity to be reinvented with a vibrant mix of potential uses. To realize this potential, we have submitted for a comprehensive rezoning of the property that will allow us to add new uses to the Cary Towne Center and contribute to Cary’s thriving community.”

Davis added that the department store Belk is committed to staying at the mall for the long term.

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Courtesy of Town of Cary

Malls across the Triangle have been targeted for redevelopment in recent months to compete with the changing ways consumers shop and the decline of several big-box retailers.

Several malls that have faced struggles in recent years are now under new ownership, such as Northgate Mall in Durham, which was on the brink of foreclosure, and University Place in Chapel Hill. Those new owners all have plans for redevelopment.

Earlier this week, an investment firm bought the former Morrisville Outlet Mall near Raleigh-Durham International Airport with plans to turn that property into a large office campus.

And even at the area’s more successful malls, like the Streets at Southpoint in Durham and Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh, property owners are contemplating adding new uses to their properties, like apartments and office space.

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Zachery Eanes is the Innovate Raleigh reporter for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. He covers technology, startups and main street businesses, biotechnology, and education issues related to those areas.