Morrisville envisions future transit station, development

aramos@newsobserver.comJune 14, 2013 

Plans for a future transit station in Morrisville include a public square, along with shops, apartments and offices.

STANTEC CONSULTING SERVICES

— A 125-acre development near the planned transit station off McCrimmon Parkway could include a mix of townhomes, apartments, retail shops and a public square.

Morrisville’s planning department has spent the past year working with consultants to create the McCrimmon Transit Small Area Plan, which includes a concept design, market analysis and land-use plan around a future transit station.

The Town Council has been reviewing the plan since May and could adopt it June 25.

The future rail station is part of a regional transportation plan that calls for a half-cent sales-tax hike. Voters in Durham and Orange counties have already approved the increase, while Wake County Commissioners haven’t decided yet whether to put the issue to a public vote.

In the meantime, Morrisville is moving forward, hoping to maximize the potential of the property adjoining the station and to create a pedestrian-friendly option for residents.

“I think this is a very important project to help create a whole transportation and lifestyle option for the community,” said Morrisville Planning Director Ben Hitchings. “And it’s something that we can move forward with now.”

The proposed McCrimmon Station area plan includes three large parcels. The main area includes elements of a town square, downtown and traditional shopping center.

The rail station would be near N.C. 54, and nearby apartment buildings would lead to a public square. The square is planned as a circular greenspace surrounded by a mix of shops and apartments.

Plans include an elevator and stairs from the transit station so pedestrians could cross over N.C. 54. On the other side of the transit station, space is designated for offices.

Townhomes and a shopping center would be built along Church Street. The plan also calls for office space.

The southern parcel on McCrimmon Parkway and Church Street would mostly be residential, with townhomes, apartments and a few offices.

By 2035, Morrisville will need about 1,467 housing units, including a mix of townhomes, apartments and condominiums, according to the market analysis by the Noell Consulting Group.

The McCrimmon Station project could house up to 106,000 square feet of retail, with about 40 percent of that designated for restaurants; 17,000 square feet for a grocery retailer like a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods Market; and 250,000 square feet of office space, with about 43,000 square feet set aside for small firms and start-up companies.

The project could generate about $2.7 million a year in local and county tax revenue, according to a financial analysis by Triangle J Council of Governments.

The Town Council would have to make changes to the town’s land-use plan to make way for the mixed-use growth. Under the area’s existing low-density zoning, a similar project would generate $1.1 million – less than half of its potential, according to the analysis.

The Town Council has seemed receptive to the master plan.

“This is fabulous,” said Councilwoman Liz Johnson. “I am more than ready to vote on this.”

“It’s going to be beautiful,” said Councilwoman Margaret Broadwell. “I think it’s exciting. I hope I’m around long enough to see it.”

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Ramos: 919-460-2609

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