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Years Later, Opinions Still Mixed On Raleigh Development

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RALEIGH, N.C. — In 2000, a prime piece of real estate in Raleigh prompted a showdown between a developer and residents. Now, a new developer is opening a scaled-back project that includes residential and retail space, but is it really as bad as opponents once feared?

Oberlin Court Apartments at Oberlin Road and Wade Avenue are now open. Three hundred-seventy apartments with shops, restaurants, and offices are coming soon in Phase 2. The $60 million development sits on what used to be part of a historically black neighborhood.

"It happened so quickly. Once you look and then it's there," said neighbor Leonidas Haywood. "It was just a nice, small isolated community here where everybody was like family."

Raleigh is growing and the neighborhood is not the same anymore. When Neal Coker first proposed a $200 million development five years ago, neighbors strongly resisted, fearing traffic and congestion. They moved Coker out, but a new developer moved in with a scaled-down version. Even after five years, people still cannot agree on the impact of this project.

"Traffic has intensified," Haywood said.

"So far, little bit of a non-issue. When Oberlin Court opens, it's going to be beneficial to everyone involved," said realtor John O'Neal.

O'Neal not only works in the neighborhood, he lives in it. He said the development will only increase property values. Even Haywood has to admit he saw it coming.

"It hurts to see it happen, but I understand this is the 21st century," Haywood said.

When asked about the project that caused him so much trouble, Coker said he will let the results speak for themselves.

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