Plans progressing for new Knightdale development

mhankerson@newsobserver.comSeptember 24, 2013 

— While introducing the town’s new $10 million park on Sept. 19, former mayor Billy Wilder said he hopes the area will become a piece of Knightdale history, preserved for future generations to enjoy.

Wilder owned the 70 acres the new park sits on. He sold it to the city and suggested the idea for a park.

“We don’t really want to see homes on this (land),” he told the crowd at the park’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. “I hope all of you and your families enjoy the park forever.”

A few feet away, Knightdale Parks and Recreation displayed a development plan that showed the beginning phases of a new subdivision meant to begin right where Knightdale Station’s last soccer field ends.

Starting with a Y

The subdivision, developed by Preston Development Co., will have its own YMCA to the north of the town’s park to mark the beginning of the subdivision.

Karl Blackley, the president of Preston Development, said the subdivision will ultimately have 835 residential lots and 150,000 feet of commercial space.

“We’ll be a destination, not just another subdivision,” Blackley said.

Before any building goes up, Preston’s vice president of finance Thad Moore said an outdoor pool will be completed.

“We will be swimming in the pool by Memorial Day 2015,” he said. The Knightdale Town Council has to approve the plans, which Moore said should happen in November.

The YMCA building will require some fundraising before it can be constructed.

Tony Campione, the YMCA’s regional vice president for northern Wake County, said YMCA facilities can run anywhere from $3 to $8 million, depending on what the community needs.

Preston donated $1 million and 8.5 acres of land to the YMCA already. Campione said the Y is doing a feasibility study to assess what the facility will include and how much money they’ll need to complete it.

In the meantime, Campione said the YMCA may be able to work out using some of the park’s outdoor space to host youth programs.

Public-private partnership

The project has been a huge public-private undertaking, Blackley said. The town of Knightdale has worked with Preston Development to make sure the development can move through the appropriate stages to completion.

“The town has worked very closely with us to really make the park and our neighborhood somewhat seamless,” Blackley said. “It was a long process.”

In 2005, Blackley and his company began assembling the 270 acres of land. It was owned by several different owners and it took about a year for the company to acquire all it needed.

“At that time we were really assembling it to sell to other builders and developers,” he said. “(When) the real estate downturn came in about 2008 … we realized it was probably going to be a piece of property we retained and developed.”

Blackley’s company began working on the planning, zoning and development of a subdivision.

Part of the process was to find a way to make sure the lots would have access to sewer and water services. According to Blackley and Moore, the water allocation process was one of the longest efforts in planning the division. It took about nine months.

At the beginning of this month, town council voted to annex the land into Knightdale. It was within the town’s planning territory, but outside the town limits. The town can collect taxes – an estimated $800,000 a year once the development is complete.

The development has also carved out space for Thales Academy, a private school. Plans allot space for the academy to grow, but the first building will be a K-5 school.

Construction of the first 129 residential units is set to begin sometime between January and March. Blackley said residential units will probably be priced somewhere in the low to mid-$200s, but it could change depending on the builder.

Moore said the whole subdivision will be constructed over several years, so as not to outpace demand.

As it stands, the plan also honors former mayor Wilder’s wishes: to create something Knightdale families can enjoy for years to come.

Hankerson: 919-829-4826 @easternwakenews

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