Business Briefs

Wake OKs RTP zoning changes designed to provide more urban feel

Posted October 2, 2012

— Wake County Commissioners approved some zoning changes that will allow Research Triangle Park obtain a more urban feel.

RTP board members are looking to modernize the 50-year-old, 7,000-acre park by encouraging retail, restaurants, hotels and residential development.

The new zoning changes will also allow for more small spaces that board members hope will foster entrepreneurship and incubator projects. A new design would also foster more collaboration between RTP businesses.

Bob Geolas, president and CEO of the Research Triangle Park Foundation, said that most of the changes were suggested by representatives from the companies located within RTP.

[The Foundation is in the process of finalizing a new strategic plan for RTP. Originally set for release in October, the plan is now expected to be finalized in November, a spokesperson for the Foundation told WRAL News on Monday.]

Geolas said these companies are trying to recruit a younger generation of workers, who want easier access to amenities and transit and a collaborative work environment.

But RTP isn’t going to become downtown Raleigh anytime soon. Prospective designs would increase density but leave plenty of green space. Unlike today, Geolas said green space would be more accessible to workers and visitors.

There would be a focus on affordable housing to allow more lower-income workers to live closer to their jobs.

“More and more employees are being pushed further and further out,” Geolas said.

As more RTP workers are forced to move farther away from their jobs, the traffic into the Park increases.

Commissioner Erv Portman questioned Geolas about how important transit will be to RTP’s future. Earlier this year, Portman proposed Commissioners discuss the half-cent sales tax referendum urged by Triangle Transit officials for a bus and commuter rail plan. The Republican-led Commission voted along party lines not to discuss adding such a referendum to the November ballot.

Geolas said congestion continues to be a growing issue and that the area needs to see additional transit options. If the commitment is made to bring transit to the park, Geolas said the park would invest in making sure those people could move throughout the park efficiently.

Buses would be a likely start, but Geolas didn’t give any funding details.

The first “urban” area will built around a proposed light rail station, he said. 

Approved Changes

  • Removing the minimum lot area, which now stands at eight acres. Reduce the minimum lot width from 400 feet to 300 feet.
  • Add building height limitations. The maximum would be 14 stories.
  • Have a standardized set of setback requirements that would allow buildings to be closer to the street.
  • Increase the allowable signage and add language that would add flexibility and functionality to the parking and loading standards.

This story is closed for comments.

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  • Ex-Republican Oct 2, 2012

    Start with the roads in RTP. They're all broken, buckled and patched up like a quilt!

  • iron fist Oct 2, 2012

    Conservative you do know how expensive it would be to turn the old Burroughs Welcome bldg into condos and apartments. Old bldg with much needed repairs and cleanup. I wouldn't want to live in a research facility.

  • SubwayScoundrel Oct 2, 2012

    This a good thing. Need to start filling in the gaps. Large campuses were great in the 1970's but that has left. Would not be surprised to see big campuses start to sell off some of their outskirts.

  • thewayitis Oct 2, 2012

    lb27608 -- thanks for the info!

  • JDAmbrosio Oct 2, 2012

    I think RTP should not permit residential development. What attracts some of these companies is the fact that it's a research campus, not one-stop-shopping! If this were a good idea, don't you think Goodnight would have done it already?!?!?!

  • ConservativeVoter Oct 2, 2012

    Turn the empty Glaxo offices in RTP into condos and apartments.

  • floydthebarber Oct 2, 2012

    I approve of these changes as long as they are modest and do not change the "feel" of RTP being a wooded campus... the serenity and peace the extra space offers companies in RTP should never be compromised.

    We can responsibly add bike paths, light rail stations, and such no problem. For housing and retail? I only want to see that on the outskirts, truly right off campus like on NC-55 is ideal. Remember employees have on-campus dining halls and amenities that keep us happy without useless strip malls tearing down trees!

  • claygriffith01 Oct 2, 2012

    Has anyone been to downtown Raleigh lately? It's a traffic nightmare. Please don't make that place your model for any new development.

  • lb27608 Oct 2, 2012

    "And you never noticed the bike/walking trail or the central bus station? Maybe you noticed the bus stops or signs?"

    The central bus station isn't in RTP anymore. It's over on Slater Rd., in the Imperial Center, well outside the boundary of RTP.

    "And I thought a good chunk of RTP was in Durham County. Do the Durham County Commissioners get a say, too?"

    Most of RTP is in Durham County, but Wake County had to approve this zoning change for any so-called "urban service districts" that are to be developed in the part of RTP that lies in Wake. Durham County will have to do the same for the districts developed there.

  • Durhamborn1980 Oct 2, 2012

    I think its a good idea..I dont see why they just dont combine the 2 cities; or at least make it more transportation friendly besides just having the transit / buses.As the years go by; it just seems durham and raleigh keep overlapping each other more and more...You have to look at it...The raleigh/ Durham area is getting alot of new recognition for the past couple ofyears of being one of those metro areas that will probably boom in the next 10-20 years more than it is now..the area is growing in a fast pace especially Raleigh...