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New development taking a hit in Cary

Posted October 16, 2008

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— New development in Cary – where the number of new homes soared from 2005 to 2007 – is taking a direct hit from the economic decline.

Last year, plans for more than 4,000 residential units were submitted. This year's monthly average of 131 home permits is much lower than the last two years. In 2007, the town issued 193 and in 2006, 164.

"Right now, we're seeing a slowdown," Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht said. "That's OK. It allows us to do a lot of things, including catching up on our infrastructure."

But some developers say all the blame shouldn't be put on the economy.

"Certainly, the economy isn't helping anything, but what I consider to be exorbitant fees are just killing a lot of small builders and big builders," said Michael Dean Chadwick, who's been developing homes in Cary and the Triangle for the past 13 years.

In July, the Town Council raised impact fees – what developers pay to help cover growth costs – by 75 percent.

Compared with other areas in the Triangle, Chadwick says it is up to four times as much in Cary.

"(Cary's fees) can be $15,000 to $20,000 in the building permit process before you ever stick a shovel in the ground," he said. "And that's a tremendous burden on a lot of builders, right now."

Weinbrecht, however, said impact fees are playing a small part in the slowdown of development.

"In the whole scheme of things, it's just a small percentage of the cost of development," Weinbrecht said. "I think the biggest indicators are the economy and the ability to borrow money."

Fewer new homes would eventually reduce tax base revenues, but budget officials say it might not be felt until the next fiscal year.

Commercial development is also slowing in Cary. Plans were submitted for 3.1 million square feet of non-residential space last year. This year, fewer than 1 million square feet were proposed.

Weinbrecht says he does not expect the economic viability to negatively affect the town's operational budget.

"I don't think we'll have to make major adjustments," he said. "The only adjustments would come if the economy remains unstable through January or February."

Cary plans to sell approximately $35 million worth of bonds in Spring 2009 for its capital projects, such as a planned downtown street scape. Town officials say they don't anticipate problems selling them.

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  • WakeHammer Oct 21, 2008

    Blaming the Town Council for the slowdown in housing starts is ridiculous. Cary impact fees, since they have been increased, are now in line with surrounding communities. Housing starts are down in Apex and Holly Springs, should we blame also place blame there on the Cary Town Council? Home prices and starts are down here, but nowhere nearly as badly as the rest of the country.

  • mmania Oct 17, 2008

    Cary doesn't have the roads to accomadate the people who live there now and they're worried that growth has slowed?

  • Beachnut Oct 17, 2008

    Newsflash for dwk: Many housing developments under construction in Cary are turning into ghost towns. These are houses already built, i.e. the fees have already been paid, and the town council has no further say. They've been built on speculation, and the buyers didn't come. The builders discounted the houses and they still haven't come. What's the old expression? It's the economy, $tupid!

  • PeaceOut2017 Oct 16, 2008

    before long Cary will be one big homeless shelter!

  • dwk Oct 16, 2008

    I think that growth in Cary is being hindered more by the Town Council than the economy. The "no growth" proponents have elected the people necessary to stop growth and they are doing exactly what they promised. It is going to be interesting to see how they will be able to pay for this catch up infrastructure without the revenues brought about by growth. The only way to do that is to raise taxes on the people there now. Hopefully that will lead to a more reasonable council.

  • lizard Oct 16, 2008

    LOL,,,wait til the energy costs soar again. Then he'll figure it out.

    If you don't grow you're automatically going backwards. BTW,,,infrastructure doesn't include throwing away money on art projects and stuff our buddies made in their garage to sell to the unsuspecting Town.