Popular Seaboard Station restaurant Sunflower's Cafe to close ahead of planned redevelopment

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Deborah Ferebee, the co-owner of Sunflower's Cafe, has always been ahead of the curve. In the 1980s, she opened the first restaurant on Glenwood South. About two decades later she helped usher in Seaboard Station.

"I love Raleigh. I came here to go to NC State and I never left," Ferebee said.

Her love of Raleigh is clear, as is the reality that the city she moved to nearly four decades ago is changing.

"Probably for the last five years, there's been rumors. I mean - it's prime real estate," Ferebee said about the future of her current location at Seabord Station.

It's why she was not shocked to learn that she would not be able to renew her lease.

"I'd like to see Raleigh grow. I'm something of a native. But hate to see Sunflower's (Cafe) go," said Allen Weiss, who noted that he began visiting when it was still located on Glenwood Avenue.

"One reason my customers are so sad is because this is a community place," Ferebee said. "They come here, they run into their friends, perhaps they didn't know they were going to see them. So that's nice."

Last December, Hoffman & Associates, a Washington, D.C.-based developer, purchased Seaboard Station for $34 million, with plans on a $250 million, 800,000 square-foot mixed-use renovation.

Those plans include 650 apartments, a 150-room hotel, and 135,000 square feet of retail space.

In a written response to ABC11's questions, John Florian, the Executive Vice President of Development for Hoffman & Associates, said the firm did work with the Ferebees "to find a similar-size space in the heart of the existing retail center, but they made the decision not to stay at Seaboard Station.

The last day for Sunflower's Cafe will be Saturday, Dec. 21, with Ferebee planning on managing a restaurant on the coast for part of the year.

"I'd just like to thank all my customers. I mean, they're my friends," said Ferebee, who also noted her close-relationship with several long-term employees, referring to them as 'part of my family.'

Florian said they do not expect any other retailers to leave the project.

"And we are dedicated to supporting locally-owned and operated businesses and continue to be fully committed to supporting all of the existing Seaboard Station retailers," Florian added.
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