Local News

Developer, Officials to Discuss North Hills Expansion

Posted July 31, 2007 7:02 p.m. EDT

— Developer John Kane plans to meet with city officials this week to discuss his plans for expanding his North Hills development.

Plans for North Hills East calls for an $800 million mix of shops, offices, residences and a retirement community on 45 acres along the Interstate 440 Beltline. It would be located across Six Forks Road from Kane's thriving North Hills retail, office and condominium project.

"This is central to Raleigh," Kane said Tuesday. "It takes something to make the smart growth happen."

But the something Kane wants is about $140 million in local tax breaks and infrastructure upgrades, including $75 million in tax-increment financing for a parking deck for North Hills East.

In tax-increment financing, a city or county borrows money to pay for a project and repays the loan with the revenue generated from higher tax valuations on the project and nearby properties.

Kane predicted North Hills East would create $550 million in new city and county tax revenue, and the Wake County Board of Commissioners last week approved the project as a public-private partnership.

Without public support, he said the project would end up looking more like a typical strip mall than innovative, dense growth.

"It's a way, quite frankly I think, to encourage smart growth. It's a way for developers to be motivated to do a better job with opportunities for redevelop in a smarter way," he said. "Why keep making these same mistakes? If we can generate more tax revenue, at no risk to the county, everybody wins on that."

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said North Hills East doesn't meet typical requirements for public funding, which usually is reserved to redevelop a blighted neighborhood. He noted Kane plans to build an upscale office building and retirement community regardless of the city's decision.

"Any action the city takes is a precedent. Should there be a massive subsidy for one project, all of the other developers will ask for subsidies for their project. It makes no sense at all to the average citizen," Meeker said.