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Mall expands, but other Crabtree-area projects stalled

Seafood restaurant McCormick & Schmick's will open July 10, and the rest of an $18 million expansion at Crabtree Valley Mall is expected to be done this fall.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — An $18 million expansion of Crabtree Valley Mall continues on schedule, with the first of three new restaurants in the mall set to open in two weeks, but three other major developments nearby aren't showing any signs of progress.

An extension to the southeast end of the mall is expected to be completed by this fall – before the crucial holiday shopping season – and will include a parking deck, three  upscale restaurants and pedestrian walkways to link the restaurants and parking with other areas of the mall.

McCormick & Schmick's, a national chain known for its fresh seafood, will be the first of the three restaurants to open when it begins serving diners on July 10. Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar and Brio Tuscan Grill are expected to open in the fall.

"It's going to be electric," said Robert Berbary, general manager of McCormick & Schmick's. "We're putting our footprint down first. We have the buzz around town about us."

Meanwhile, the buzz has faded from the nearby Soleil Center. Developers broke ground on the planned 43-story tower, but little has changed since then. The $175 million project will include a Westin hotel, a spa and high-rise condominiums.

According to the project's Web site, steel was expected to rise on the Glenwood Avenue site "by early 2008" and construction was supposed to be completed by next summer.

Soleil Center developers couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

The promise of new development at the former Kidds Hill site behind the mall also remains stuck in the planning stages.

Weingarten Realty Investors purchased the 12-acre parcel in late 2006 to develop a cluster of buildings with retail, office and residential units. The proposed Crabtree Town Center would include 250,000 square feet of stores and restaurants, 150,000 square feet of offices and 400 to 600 residential units.

Ken Hocker, Weingarten's director of development for the Mid-Atlantic region, said negotiations with a tenant were being finalized, but it's still too early to announce anything.

Nearby, Madison Retail LLC and York Residential plan to build Crabtree Village at the intersection of Blue Ridge Road and Homewood Banks Drive. The 24-acre project would include a 150-room hotel, 160,000 square feet of retail space and up to 749 residences, and developers said they hope to start construction in the coming year.

Crabtree Valley spokeswoman Sandra Geist said mall managers remain confident in the area's potential.

"With the growth we're doing this year, I would think that would help the other businesses come to the area," Geist said.


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