Shopping Center Business

MAY 2018

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RETAIL EVOLUTION 84 • SHOPPING CENTER BUSINESS • May 2018 FENTON CARY, NORTH CAROLINA E xperiential retail is in short supply around Cary, North Carolina. That's about to change in a big way with the approval of Fenton, one of the largest developments in Cary's history. Columbia Development will deliver the first phase in 2020 with the fifth and final phase completing by ap- proximately 2024. The 92-acre greenfield project on the east side of the Triangle will include 440,000 square feet of Class A retail, chef-driven restaurants, a boutique theater and entertainment space. Ap- proximately 900 multifamily units, 120,000 square feet for two hotels and about 1 million square feet of office space round out the development, along with parking structures, pedestrian paths and green spaces. Wealthy empty-nesters or families with high-school-aged children represent large demographics within the trade area, says Ron Pfohl, director of leasing and partner with Columbia Development. The highly anticipated development will provide an essential missing piece for the Eastern Gateway section of Cary. Abbitt Goodwin, who leads development, site selection and leasing for Columbia Development, was quoted in the Cary Citizen saying the area was in need of its "living room." As a hub for dining, shopping, entertainment, working and socializing, Fenton is expected to be exactly that — a magnetic, modern, hangout the town was sorely missing. The project is not like any other similarly retail-based or mixed-use project in the immediate vicinity. Preleasing on the project has already begun, and construction begins in spring. A Wegmans grocery store will be one of the project's anchors, but formal announcements about tenants are still to come. A 36,000-square-foot theater will be part of Fenton, as well as a food hall concept that Columbia says will be led by well-known regional chefs. "Fenton will serve as the catalyst to lift the entire Eastern Cary Gateway and encourage reinvestment in a more mature part of the Cary community," Goodwin says. "Fenton will become a vibrant mixed-use destination serving as an economic catalyst for East Cary." The Wilbert Group and Wakefield Beasley & Associates make up the public relations team and architect — the same group that brought Atlanta-based mixed-use project Avalon out of the ground. But Fenton isn't expected to be a cookie-cutter replica of other developments. Columbia's leaders and their partners researched industry-leading mixed-use projects throughout the country to learn what would work in Cary. A few of the main ingredients they determined to be essential at Fenton included green space, modern offices, and restaurants that have patios and street-level synergy with pedestrian traffic. McAdams and Glenda S. Toppe & Associates are providing the land planning services. "Our core values for designing the project include walkabil- ity, sustainability, cultural encounters, advanced technology, healthy living and family values," says Lamar Wakefield, chief executive officer of Wakefield Beasley & Associates. "The proj- ect will be a vertically integrated mixed-use development that is merchandized in a way to promote cross-shopping and increase dwell time." The leasing team is exploring the possibility of online-to- bricks-and-mortar brands. They also expect the theater, at only 36,000 square feet, and at least one of the hotel concepts to fit under the description of "boutique." The other hotel is likely to provide more of a business-oriented, conference-style lodging option. "It's not going to overpower the site," Pfohl says of the the- ater. "But it's one where you'll be able to sit in reclining seats, have a glass of wine and a meal while you're watching the mov- ie. We're going to merchandise with hot, current tenants and chef-driven restaurants. We're bringing something different that stands out among some of the more dated retail formats around The Triangle area." "Fenton is not intended to be a shopping center," adds Pfohl. "We are continuing to see the lines blur between work and play, which is why street-level retail and chef-driven restaurants en- hance the office experience. Whether people are hosting break- fast meetings, grocery shopping at lunch, enjoying happy hour with coworkers, celebrating with family or meeting friends for outdoor yoga, they are looking to spend time in dynamic, acti- vated places that ultimately result in a higher quality of life. This is the type of place we will deliver to Cary." — Lynn Peisner Fenton will include 440,000 square feet of retail, chef-driven restaurants, a boutique theater and entertainment space, as well as multifamily and hotel space. Credit: Wakefield Beasley & Associates

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