The latest applicant to become a Planned Development District (PDD) is Colonial Properties Trust. Its the real estate company out of Alabama thats taken an option from N.C. State University to buy the 179-acre tract west of the RBC Center on the Wade Avenue extension. The pricetag: $14.5 million.
The land is zoned for agricultural use now. Before it goes through with the purchase, Colonial wants it rezoned a PDDin effect, removing all zoning restrictions on it other than those the company imposes on itself in a so-called master plan. Thats what PDDs are all about.
Colonials master plan is pretty vague. Thats not surprising, since, as Charles McGeehee, the firms executive vice president, told a City Council committee last week, it will take them 5-7 years to develop the tract and, as yet, they havent signed the first tenant.
So theyd like to retain as much flexibility as possible about what could go there.
The problem is, local leaders worked hard with the city to draw up a small-area plan back when the arena was going upto make sure that what came with it wouldnt overwhelm their neighborhoods. The small-area plan calls for village scale, as Councilor Neal Hunt, the committee chair, noted. But Colonials master plan would allow buildings up to 120 feet tall and two big-box stores of 85,000 square feet each. Colonial still had time to revise it, but as it stood then, Hunt added, theres no effort to have a real mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented development there.
Meanwhile, the tall buildings Colonial wants to put up on the highway are just what Raleigh says it wants downtown. Of course, the RBC Center isnt downtown, either.