Development Beat: Sandy Forks Office Development

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James Borden/Raleigh Public Record

Road-widening work on Sandy Forks Road

Brought to you by Rufty-Peedin Design Build

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Kimberly Development Group recently filed a rezoning case, Z-9-16, that would allow them to build a new office building on a piece of land at 5932 Sandy Forks Road currently zoned to allow only for residential development.

This request is not out wholly out of line with the City’s Future Land Use Map. I’d say that’s a good sign for its chances of moving forward, but of the cases rejected by Council last year, all of them were conforming. Four nonconforming ones, on the other hand, were approved.

This .69 (“If you’re us, and we’re you, what number are we thinking of right now?”) acre parcel of land on Sandy Forks is in a bit of a weird position as far as the FLUM goes. Initially, it was designated as an ideal spot for residential development, in line with its current zoning classification.

The recent Six Forks Corridor Study, however, designates it as Office and Mixed Use. It is expected that the City’s Future Land Use Map will be updated to reflect the recommendations contained in the corridor study. Therefore, the property is conforming in that sense.

The site of the proposed office development

Bing Maps

The site of the proposed office development

According to the notes from the developer, Kimberly Development Group, this rezoning request will be beneficial to the general public. The reasoning given is that it will “facilitate the redevelopment of this property, which is no longer appropriate for a residence.”

By redeveloping it for office use, KDG argues, the tax value will increase and provide a “transitional yard adjacent to single-family dwellings, and by providing office uses in proximity to residential uses so as to reduce vehicle miles traveled.”

I wonder what the odds are that someone who lives in that neighborhood ends up working in that office building. 1/100,000? Worse?

The developer goes on to point out that in light of the City’s widening and improvement project for Sandy Forks Road, it makes more sense for an office to be built on this land than a single-family residential property. In addition, the office will be compatible with the ones across the street and to the south.

In the beginning of March, Morningstar Law Group, on behalf of Kimberly Development, invited the surrounding neighbors to an informational meeting about the rezoning request, which was held at Kimberly’s offices on Six Forks.

Of the eight residents/property owners invited, zero attended. According to rezoning application, “There was no discussion because none of the notified parties attended the meeting.” So the developers and their attorneys just sat there in silence? I’m sure there was a little bit of discussion.

The lack of attendance at the meeting may signify a distinct lack of interest in the case from the property’s surrounding neighbors, or they may just be satisfied with the conditions Kimberly Development has placed on the property.

Although they’ve made their intentions to develop an office building clear, they specifically prohibit a number of uses in the conditions, including cemeteries, funeral homes, mortuaries, crematoriums, and pet crematoriums. Look, plenty of strange and highly-specific/highly-unlikely uses are banned through rezoning conditions, it’s par for the course. I just want to meet the morbid guy or gal who was working on this project and one day thought, you know how we’ll make this more palpable to the neighbors? We’ll assure them we won’t incinerate their deceased pets on-site.

In more practical terms, the conditions also dictate a maximum height of two stories and 40 feet for the building, and dictates that the exterior be made of “brick, stone, stucco (EIFS), fiber-cement siding or a combination thereof.”

So this won’t be one those fancy all-glass exterior office buildings like downtown Raleigh’s beautiful Charter Square.

There’s not really much else to say about old Z-9-15; it doesn’t appear the neighbors will object, it should probably sail through Planning Commission and City Council and could break ground by the end of the year. Really the biggest obstacle might be the Sandy Forks Road Widening project. Here’s a picture of a nearby office development amidst the road construction. I had meant to take a picture of the actual proposed site, but I got turned around looking for a place to park and mixed up the address.

Road-widening work on Sandy Forks Road

James Borden / Raleigh Public Record

Road-widening work on Sandy Forks Road