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Major Lifestyle for the Triangle
Monday, May 5, 2008
Article from the May 2008 issue of Shopping Center Business
— NEW 800,000-SQUARE-FOOT CENTER WEST OF RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA, PLANS TO SERVE GROWING AREA. When Sarasota, Florida-based Casto Lifestyle Properties first approached Andrx about purchasing the 100-acre site in Morrisville, North Carolina, that would become the future home of Park West Village, there were few obvious hints as to the site’s long-term potential. A former industrial space that had once housed a 500,000-square-foot Bristol-Myers Squibb on-site distribution facility, the property seemed to be a little bit rough around the edges. But Casto, along with local development partner 1st Carolina Properties, was extremely enthusiastic about the site’s prospects. Situated at the southwest corner of Cary Parkway and NC-54/Chapel Hill Road just west of Raleigh, the property is located at the heart of the booming Research Triangle area, just minutes from Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. Convenient to Interstates 40, 540 and 85, as well as US highways 64, 1 and 70, the site not only boasts superior vehicular accessibility and traffic connections, but is also a mere 5 miles from Research Triangle Park (RTP), the geographic and metaphorical center of the Triangle. Casto’s initial enthusiasm and development vision appears to be paying off, as plans are now well underway to develop an exciting and ambitious new lifestyle project. When finished, Park West Village will offer a diverse blend of mixed-use development options, including a town center district, a community center with sought-after major retail anchors, upscale casual restaurants and a movie theater, intermingled with residential, office and hospitality spaces. The project will not only include a power center-style portion, with Target headlining a roster of national anchor tenants, but also a “Main Street” mixed-use component complete with extensive retail and dining options. Menu choices will hardly be stale, as the project will include more than 15 different restaurants when completed. A residential/entertainment district will feature 350 residential units, including 100 above-retail loft-style apartments. A range of other stand-alone residential products includes carriage house-style residences and condominium-style townhome lifestyle options. All told, the Park West Village master plan includes 750,000 square feet of retail space and 50,000 square feet of office. In addition to the residential units, the project will also feature a 140-room limited services hotel. Casto Lifestyle Properties President and CEO Brett Hutchens says that he is optimistic that Casto’s development vision for the site is well on the way to being realized. “All the elements are there,” he explains, “and we are extraordinarily excited about the potential for Park West Village.” The project’s diversity and range of lifestyle options are a big part of that optimism, elaborates Hutchens, adding that “it is about as mixed as a mixed-use project can get.” Weaving those elements into a cohesive whole and transforming an industrial site into a regional destination is nothing new to Casto, whose track record of lifestyle project successes notable includes the highly successful Orlando-area mixed-use redevelopment of Winter Park Village. Winter Park Village’s compelling blend of retail, dining and entertainment options are presented in a Main Street Village format that provides an array of appealing spaces for retail and office tenants. The transformation of Winter Park Village, an outcome that was largely driven by Casto’s ability to turn an obsolete property into a vibrant contemporary lifestyle space, is a formula for success the firm hopes to replicate with Park West Village. Successfully rezoning the property up from industrial to mixed-use was a process that required the approval and support of the surrounding community. After acquiring the property, Casto worked closely with the mayor, town council and chamber of commerce to develop a long-term plan that would meet the needs and address the concerns of area residents. The firm convened neighborhood meetings and held question-and-answer sessions to discuss with citizens and community organizations Casto’s belief that the rezoning and use change would ultimately provide tremendous benefits to the region, increasing tax revenues and adding significant social and community value. “We even entered into some discussions with the community as to the details of how the project would come together,” explains Diane Coulson, Casto’s vice president of leasing and asset management, “including getting their input and feedback on content and tenant makeup. It was important to the communities served by Park West Village that not only should the project be a tremendous resource in terms of a place to live, work and play, but also that it provide an aesthetically pleasing, welcoming environment that feels less like a stand-alone retail entity and more like an extension of the community. As a result, Park West Village boasts a large number of trees and plantings and pedestrian walkways and the brick and stone building materials provide a sense of solidity and permanence; promoting an authentic old-type town feel.” For all of its aesthetic charms and ambitious tenant roster, Casto knows that Park West Village’s prime location and proximity to RTP will ultimately play a large role in the project’s success. A 7,000-acre high-tech research and development center, RTP is currently home to 157 companies employing over 39,000 full-time high-tech workers and an estimated 10,000 contract employees. In addition, the Weston Parkway office complex, located in close proximity, features large offices for national companies like Verizon, Kellogg, John Deere and Cotton Inc. The benefits of a location immediately adjacent to such a large corporate campus are tremendous, says Coulson. “We are less than a half-mile from an enormous office complex with over 1 million square feet of office space, and we are tapping into a surrounding area with a daytime population of nearly 100,000 individuals,” she explains. Needless to say, those numbers are sure to appeal to potential Park West Village tenants, who will no doubt also be intrigued by promising trade area demographics, which include an average household income of over $90,000 and a population within 7 miles of the project of over 200,000. And Casto’s partnership with 1st Carolina Properties, a Raleigh-based firm whose development portfolio includes many North Carolina retail centers, provides the firm with a proven local partner with demonstrated local and regional development experience. As a promising lifestyle product in an underserved market, Casto certainly hopes that Park West Village lives up to its potential. Groundbreaking is scheduled for spring of this year, and the project’s target opening date is late summer or early fall of 2000.

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