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'The largest project we've ever undertaken': Kane Realty shares vision for future of North Hills

Kane Realty founder John Kane said the latest projects of One North Hills, NHX offices, a new 12-story apartment building and a Restoration Hardware site costs $350 million.

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Matt Talhelm
, WRAL reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — Work, play and live: Kane Realty Corporation is banking on companies to bring employees into offices under the newest part of the North Hills redevelopment.

Kane Realty founder John Kane said the latest projects of the One North Hills development include NHX offices, a new 12-story apartment building and a Restoration Hardware site, together costing $350 million.

“This is the largest project we’ve ever undertaken,” Kane said.

Kane is the developer behind the mall’s transformation.

“Getting residential on this side of the street where the old mall was is really important to us, and getting more office on top of retail here is very important because we’ve been mostly a retail operation here,” Kane said.

On Wednesday, WRAL News took a tour to the top of the new 10-story One North Hills development. The glass tower overlooks the Beltline below on one side. On the other side, it overlooks a five-story office building under construction that will also have new shops and restaurants.

“What do those single-family homes want?” said Managing Director of Operations at Kane Realty Stacey Buescher. “They want the ability to walk to work. They want the ability to walk to their restaurants.”

Buescher said across the street Kane Realty has four office towers that are 100% leased by businesses and about 80% occupied by residents.

It is the largest project in the history of the transformation of North Hills from an indoor mall to what it is today. It's been 20 years since bulldozers started tearing down the mall, and the buildings are going up where the old mall stood until 2021.

“Raleigh’s been fortunate enough to be on all of these ‘greatest’ lists, and it’s really helping us fill these office buildings,” Buescher said.

Kane spoke with WRAL News where the former JC Penney department store once stood in the old North Hills Mall.

“You’ve got three buildings coming out of the ground above retail everywhere, so it’s a complex project,” Kane said.

Buescher said Raleigh is a nice blend of city and small town.

“It’s just community,” Buescher said. “All we try to do is try to build community for anyone who wants to come and enjoy it."

Kane mentioned the importance of his company providing housing.

“We’ve been mostly a retail kind of operation here,” Kane said. “Obviously, we have a hotel, but I think adding that is going to change the dynamics of all that.”

Kane is also getting ready to break ground on the massive new Downtown South development, with plans to bring an apartment tower, offices, shops and an entertainment venue along South Saunders Street at I-40.

"Eventually I think that will be comparable to North Hills. It will have a different flavor and different feel to it, because we’re trying to do something very different than what we’ve done here," he said.

Neither project has been without opposition, however.

Kane Realty wanted to rezone land in the North Hills area to allow for taller towers, as much as 40 stories high, along Six Forks Road. After community concerns about traffic and density, the developer agreed to build no towers taller than 37 stories – and to delay construction until at least Jan. 1, 2026, giving the city more time to improve the surrounding infrastructure.

After four new members were elected to Raleigh City Council in December, rezoning discussions have been on hold.

"With this case being a case that’s been around for well over a year, we’re trying to give them some time to get their legs under them and get comfortable with that," Kane said.

“People are feeling like they’re about to be priced out of Raleigh,” said Stephon Whitley, an organizer with One Wake, an advocacy group calling for more affordable housing and property tax reform in the area.

Kane Realty has agreed to offer 10 percent of Downtown South’s units at below-market rates once 1,000 are built.