Planned development a game-changer for Cary

CARY, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Undeveloped land between Cary and downtown Raleigh is a hard thing to find. And developers have big dreams for one of the last large parcels of untouched property.

There's plans for an IKEA on one side of Cary Towne Boulevard and a Wegmans grocery store on the other.

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Geraldine Guarino is one of the elder stateswomen of Cary's Ivy Lane; she's been here for decades.

"Oh my goodness that was a two-way street on Walnut (Street), now it's four lanes. (Cary) was quiet," Guarino said.

Cary is growing less quaint and quiet by the day and those new plans for Cary Towne Boulevard could be a complete game-changer.

"This is a doughnut hole. Everything around this has been developed," Abbitt Goodwin said as he gave ABC11 a tour of the land between I-40 and Cary Towne Boulevard that his company, Columbia Development group purchased two years ago.

Columbia is moving forward with plans for this empty expanse of eastern Cary land, 92 acres in all, into 2 million square feet of new retail stores, hundreds of apartments, office space, two hotels and the state's first Wegmans supermarket - known to some as the 'holy grail' of grocers.

"While Cary has a lot of things, it doesn't have that, and we really wanted to create a place that is the center of gravity in Cary," Goodwin said.

RELATED: IKEA announces potential Cary store

But Goodwin is not the only developer hoping to seize on this new orbit. There's also buzz about the newly-unveiled plans to build the Triangle's first IKEA store; providing a revival for the Cary Towne Center - right across the street from Goodwin's development.

"We're not here as a result of the IKEA announcement. We're excited about it," Goodwin said. "We think it's great for the mall. We'd love to see the mall redeveloped."

Meantime nearby neighbors are hoping for the best - such as rising property values. They're also preparing for the negatives - such as already congested streets getting more congested.

RELATED: Cary Towne Center may get whole new life besides IKEA

"I got two routes out of here. I can take the back streets and get out that way or go through the traffic," resident Shuriek Williams said. "I'm prepared."

"We're hoping for good things that'll help this neighborhood with values increased. Maybe we'll have ourselves a little North Hills situation in Cary," said resident Jason Gotta, comparing the plans in Cary to the upscale residential/retail renaissance in Raleigh's North Hills.

And then there's Guarino. She's giving the plans her endorsement, too.

I'm for it," Guarino said. "It's progress."

It will likely be late 2019 before you can start planning any grocery trips to Wegmans or leasing an apartment here.

The first chance for neighbors to offer feedback to developers is this summer. A neighborhood meeting is slated for July 12 at Cary Town Hall.

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