PLANS AND PROGRESS FOR BETTER LIVING
A look at what’s coming to each community in western Wake this year.
In any direction you turn, you’re likely to see something new sprouting up in western Wake—
schools, libraries, shopping centers, housing developments, and road extensions, to name a few.
And with new buildings and developments come new programs and technologies.
We talked with leaders from our communities to find out the best of what’s on the radar for 2019.
By Cindy Huntley
With tech-savvy Research Triangle Park right down the road, it’s hard to believe that Morrisville has never had a library to call its own. That will change this fall, when the doors of the brand-new Morrisville Community Library swing open. Located adjacent to Town Hall Drive, the library will house approximately 50,000 books, including children’s titles.
Another big addition to Morrisville will occur when Relias Learning, an online educational platform for the healthcare industry, permanently relocates its headquarters to Perimeter Park. The Cary-based company currently has more than 400 employees in its offices near Crossroads Shopping Center, and has plans to add another 450 jobs once it has settled into its new space.
What will happen with the traffic these extra jobs create? Morrisville has a plan for that, too. Morrisville Chamber of Commerce president Sarah Gaskill says the town’s transportation plan should begin implementing changes later this year, including an extension to McCrimmon Parkway, which will stretch the road from Airport Boulevard through to Aviation Parkway. The road should be completed in November, with vegetation coming the following spring. The widening of Morrisville Carpenter Road is also underway, and should be completed in 2020.
The most exciting change coming to Morrisville this year, though, is all fun and games. Wake Competition Center is a multi-sport center and academy that will include a twin-rink ice facility, gymnastics gym, turf soccer fields, and an eight-court volleyball facility. With completion scheduled for fall, WCC is expected to draw world-class competitions in a variety of sports with its state-of-the-art facilities. In addition, the Carolina Hurricanes will use the ice rinks for practice, and the NC Football Club will host youth soccer workshops at the facility. This marks the second multi-sport facility in our area from local developer Jeff Ammons: The Factory, located in Wake Forest, opened in 2004.
And speaking of sports, the Morrisville Aquatics Center will get a new look this year. The center closed in November, and should reopen in late 2019 with the addition of a year-round natatorium, which will have a retractable roof to allow for open-air use in the summer. A new locker room facility will connect the natatorium to the existing building, and the original pools will be demolished and reconstructed into a six-lane lap pool and a play pool with beach-style entry. The renovation also includes updates to the tennis courts, including the addition of two new courts.
Western Wake’s southernmost community has lots of exciting things happening as well. “There is a tremendous amount of positive energy in Fuquay-Varina,” mayor pro temp Blake Massengill says. “Many projects that have been years in the making will come full-circle in 2019.”
For starters, Fuquay-Varina’s town hall will move to its new home, the previous headquarters of the Bob Barker Company, in late summer. The police department will then take over the old town hall location in the fall. The town will also see some shuffling happening with its schools: Construction on the new Willow Springs High School off Old Honeycutt Road will be completed, and Fuquay-Varina High School students will relocate there in August while their school undergoes a two-year renovation and expansion. South Lakes Elementary School, also located off Old Honeycutt Road, is slated to open in 2019 as well.
The Fuquay-Varina branch of Wake Public Libraries is also getting a new home this year, and will see its collection size double with the move. The new location, located off Judd Parkway, will be larger than most of Wake County’s community libraries, as it is designed to transform into a regional library in the coming years.
And look for an artistic upgrade when the new Fuquay-Varina Arts Center opens in just a few months. The facility will include classrooms, paint and dance studios, an art gallery, and more—in addition to its 300-seat theatre. The center will become a creative force in the community, offering a wide range of classes, camps, and workshops appealing to all segments of the Fuquay-Varina population. Chamber president Linda Frenette also says to be on the lookout for public art popping up, as the town continues to elevate its cultural amenities.
And for those of you who want to experience Fuquay’s fresh air, look for Fleming Loop Park’s reopening. Improvements will include soccer fields, a playground and shelter, trails, lighting, restrooms, and 314 additional parking spaces. Construction will also begin on Willow Lakes Town Park, near the new South Lakes Elementary School.
We promised you new things in every direction, and Holly Springs is where you’ll have to look up to see what’s happening. Flytrex, a drone delivery system, will begin food deliveries from Holly Springs Towne Center to Ting Park in 2019. The Israeli company already has successful operations in Iceland, and recently began deliveries at a golf course in North Dakota. The Holly Springs program, in cooperation with the N.C. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration, will be part of a three-year national program to safely test the use of
Also in an upward direction—seven stories, to be exact—Holly Springs will be getting its very own hospital. UNC Rex Healthcare will begin construction on a 236,130 square foot building at the intersection of South Main Street and the N.C. Highway 55 bypass early this year, and patients could be served as early as 2021.
And later this year, a new four-story Duke Health facility should open at the intersection of the N.C. Highway 55 bypass and New Hill Road.
In downtown Holly Springs, look for development to be booming this year. “The downtown development projects currently underway are bringing a new level of excitement, community experiences, and energy to our downtown village area,” says town manager Randy Harrington. Among the projects are Town Hall Commons, with an anticipated opening in the next few months, and Block on Main, which will begin construction this year. Together, these two buildings have the potential to bring 35 businesses and 500 new jobs to the town.
Last but not least (because we all hate traffic!), Holly Springs will see some easing of congestion along the N.C. Highway 55 bypass with the new Sportsmanship Way connection to Ting Park. In addition to improving access to the park, the highway will provide an additional east-west connection with the bypass. The Holly Springs transportation department will also be hard at work implementing the transportation bond projects that were approved by voters last year, including bike lanes, sidewalks, and road widenings.
Cary is where the western Wake boom started, decades ago, and yet there’s still always something new to look for. Evan Stone, vice president of economic development at the Town of Cary, says the biggest thing breaking ground this year is without a doubt the new Fenton development. Located along Cary Town Boulevard at I-40, Fenton will bring over 2.5 million square feet of mixed-use space, including retail, restaurants, office space, two boutique hotels, and more than 800 multi-family housing units. The 92-acre walkable district also includes six community gathering areas, designed to connect the residential and business aspects in this urban-inspired experience.
But for more immediate gratification, look towards downtown, where Phase II of Downtown Park has already broken ground. OJB Landscape Architecture out of Boston is heading up the design, and they gave town residents a look at what to expect at the town hall meeting in November. Design director Simon Beer says it will be “a highly programmed and flexible space.” The design incorporates typical park features in imaginative and unconventional ways, with something for everyone. There will be play areas, food and beverage offerings, a dog park, artwork, a stormwater pond that integrates as a water feature, and an urban plaza with movable seating and shade. The plaza will be a dynamic space for events and activities, including pop-up markets, concerts, and library events like story times. “We think that passive and relaxing parks have their place, but downtown Cary will be an active gathering place, and it’s going to have something for everyone,” Beer says. “But the best part is, it’s in the heart of downtown Cary.”
And while we, as residents, may already know our beloved town is a stellar place, this was confirmed by Expedia last year when they named Cary “the best hidden gem in America.” The award was given to Cary because of its friendliness to cyclists, and little did they know it’s only getting better here: Town officials say more than 145 miles of proposed greenways are in the works, many of which will open early in 2020.
Where better to start in The Peak of Good Living than outside? The town’s greenway system will see two new extensions beginning construction in 2019: Middle Creek and Beaver Creek. Sidewalks will be added to East Williams Street this year, as well. And although it will be quite a while before the gates open, the town says construction will begin on the new Pleasant Park, a much-needed venue for sports and recreational activities. The park will encompass 92 acres off Old US 1 and will boast four multipurpose fields in addition to tennis courts, a splash park, playgrounds, and a shelter area.
Apex Chamber of Commerce president Shannon Flaherty says the sports fields will pave the way for the community to host tournaments, which will in turn bring revenue to the town and its businesses.
Another big project that will break ground this year is the expansion of the Apex Community Center, which will include the addition of a dedicated senior center. With new spaces like exercise rooms, an auditorium, kitchen, and an arts and crafts room complete with kiln, the center hopes to better define areas for each of the age groups it serves: seniors, adults, youth, and preschoolers. Construction will begin in June and should wrap up next year.
And of course, we’ve all been following the progress of the new Apex High School as we drive past on U.S. Highway 64. The building will be completed in time for Apex High students to move back in for the 2019–2020 school year, allowing Green Level High School to open its doors to a new group of students for its first “official” year.
Switching gears to programs in the Peak City, are you a budding entrepreneur hoping to start a new business? Launch Apex, a new program that pairs mentors (local business owners) with those just starting their own businesses, wants to help you succeed. The program is a partnership between the town, Wake Technical Community College, the Apex Chamber of Commerce, and Apex’s two Rotary clubs. Flaherty says Launch Apex is geared towards people who have their own business but don’t know much about finance—but ultimately, the mentors are finding that they gain as much from the experience as those they are mentoring. A new cohort is set to start up in February.
And lastly, let’s give kudos to the town of Apex for its new curbside textile recycling program, which aims to redirect otherwise unusable textiles away from the landfill (where 85% of unwanted textiles currently end up). The town has partnered with Simple Recycling, a company that will collect the bags from your curb and take them to their facility for processing; all you have to do is fill the bag and set it outside with your other recyclables.