The town of Garner is weighing proposals from three developers – one local and two from out of state – vying for the town’s Downtown Opportunity Site.
Garner Town Council went over the three proposals during a meeting Tuesday and gave initial feedback to town staff. The applicants include Baltimore-based developer Acquest Group; Raleigh-based CityPlat; and Lansing Melbourne Group of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The town unveiled its solicitation for development partner proposal, or SDP, for its Downtown Opportunity Site in October, seeking companies interested in developing a new mixed-use site up to four stories tall on 0.3 acres at the corner of West Main and Purvis streets. That proposal can be found here.
The site is situated on 0.3 acres at at the corner of W Main and Purvis streets between the newly constructed Garner Recreation Center and Full Boom Coffee Roasters.`
C/O TOWN OF GARNER
The town brought on the Development Finance Initiative, or DFI, as a consultant on the project. DFI is a program of UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Government that collaborates with communities across the state to attract private investment for projects. In the SDP, the town says it spent more than 12 months in pre-development on the site to ensure community support for the project and that it would be financially feasible for a future partner.
In total, the town reached out to 35 developers and 20 additional companies, including architects and brokers.
Acquest Group’s proposal calls for 7,350 square feet of retail space and 26 condos across four stories with tabletop parking as requested by the town. Plans also call for a closed pedestrian street on Purvis Street with removable bollards.
The company is a minority-owned developer focused on community economic development projects around the country and cited previous development experience in North Carolina with its Henderson Tobacco Warehouse project.
Rendering of Acquest Group’s proposal.
C/O UNC DFI
Acquest Group Vice President and Director of Operations Alexandra Green said the company was attracted to Garner as a town experiencing rapid growth across age demographics and hopes to prove a number of retail spaces for local businesses and entrepreneurs to drive additional investment downtown.
“It’s a bit of a sleepy street because you have so many office buildings there, so the goal is to drive as much foot traffic during the day and to keep pedestrians there in the evening hours,” Green said. “That’s really how you get those dollars to your downtown for a longer time.”
Above the retail, Acquest plans to feature one-, two- and three-bedroom condos.
Green said they currently estimate the cost of the project would be around $8 million or $9 million, depending on feedback from the town and future design modifications.
Raleigh-based CityPlat’s proposal, the largest of the three, has 12,000 to 17,000 square feet of ground-floor retail with 48 to 52 apartments across four stories, plus a tabletop parking deck.
The project would wrap around the 123-parking space deck, masking the deck from view from the street.
CityPlat is proposing a 4-story mixed-use project.
The development team would include New City Design, Pabst Design Group and Bobbitt – all companies based in Raleigh.
CityPlat’s plan calls for extending Garner’s downtown through development on Purvis Street. The company said it heard of the project last year when working on its Distillery at Rand Mill project in downtown Garner.
CityPlat’s plan would wrap the tabletop parking deck with apartments and retail facing, shielding the deck from view from the street.
CO TOWN OF GARNER
Lansing Melbourne Group
LMG’s proposal, a plan with three stories, calls for 6,000 square feet of retail space and 50 residential units with elevated parking space.
The development team includes JLL, Florida-based Kaufman Lynn and Built Form Architecture of Chicago. In its proposal, LMG sited its development work in Kannapolis and Concord.
LMG didn’t return calls and emails seeking comment for this story.
Rendering of Lansing Melbourne Group’s proposed mixed-use project for downtown Garner’s Opportunity Site.
These proposals are expected to evolve as town staff and council members provide feedback on the plans.
Following the presentation on the proposals, council asked clarifying questions and provided feedback. Council member Phil Matthews praised the applicants’ various plans to integrate Purvis Street. Council member Gra Singleton noted the variety of size in commercial square and residential units.
Council member Kathy Behringer raised concerns that a 4-story building may be too large for the area, adding that she hopes to see the future development blend with the existing properties downtown. Council members also raised questions about CityPlat’s proposal and emphasized the need to ensure enough parking would be provided.
Matthews pushed back a bit on the size concerns, saying that as the town continues to grow council should keep an open mind on developers’ visions for the site.
Town staff said it’s likely Garner will partner with the developer on the parking structure part of the project.