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REGIONALREPORT Triangle

Developer wants to win the region’s space race
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Some Pittsboro residents believe the proposed Chatham Park development will cramp their lifestyle, turning wide spaces into tight places. They might be right. Nevertheless, Tim Smith has a message for those who fear it: “Growth’s coming whether they like it or not.” The co-owner of Cary-based Preston Development Co. says the population of Chatham, Orange, Durham, Wake and Johnston counties will increase between 1 million and 1.5 million over the next two decades — it’s now 1.6 million, according to the Office of State Budget and Management. The region will soon run out of places to put people. Smith and business partner Julian “Bubba” Rawl noticed this trend in the mid-’00s and bought their first piece of the proposed development nearly seven years ago. Since then, they have amassed 7,700 acres between Pittsboro and B. Everett Jordan Lake in Chatham County.

James Goodnight — the wealthiest man in the state and CEO of Cary-based SAS Institute Inc. (page 46) — will provide financial backing, which should reach $3 billion over the three decades it will take to complete Chatham Park. At capacity, it will include 20 million square feet of nonresidential space, 22,000 housing units and five retail centers and retain 2,000 acres of open space. It’s Preston’s largest project — the company also created 3,000-acre Preston and 2,000-acre Wakefield Plantation, both in Cary — and Smith says it would be the largest in the five counties.

First it needs Pittsboro’s backing. The town’s board of commissioners will soon vote, perhaps by the end of the month, on a rezoning that would exempt 7,120 acres from minimum lot size, building height and other restrictions, though the developer would still need planning-board approval for individual projects. When finished, Smith says, Chatham Park will increase the town’s tax base by $15 billion and grow its population from 4,500 to nearly 60,000. “Pittsboro is going to be on the front page because that’s where the growth is going to be. It needs to be done in one big plan.” Preston can begin the first building — a 25,000-square-foot medical office for UNC Health Care — within six months.


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Briefs

LipoScience named William Cromwell chief medical officer in September after Robert Honigberg resigned because of family reasons. Cromwell held the position from 1999 to 2005. Richard Brajer stepped down as CEO several weeks earlier after the Raleigh-based medical-diagnostics company, which went public in January, lowered its earnings forecast for the second time this year.

MEBANE — Morinaga will open a factory here in Orange County, investing $48 million and hiring 90 workers within three years. The Japanese confectioner makes milk caramels, chocolate and other treats..
 
DURHAM — Quintiles acquired Morrisville-based Novella Clinical, also a contract-research organization, for an undisclosed amount. Novella, which focuses on oncology, will operate as a unit of Quintiles and retain its name and leadership.
 
RALEIGH — Dwight Utz resigned as president and chairman of Vantage-South Bank, citing other opportunities. He was president and CEO of Engelhard-based ECB Bancorp before VantageSouth acquired it (“A Sense of Community,” June) earlier this year.

RALEIGH — The N.C. Biotechnology Center eliminated several programs, including undergraduate fellowships and summer workshops for educators, after state lawmakers slashed its budget 27% to $12.6 million. The nonprofit also laid off seven of its 76 workers.

RALEIGH — Kerr Drug agreed to sell its 76 retail stores and specialty pharmacy business to Walgreen Co. for an undisclosed amount. The deal, which should close by year-end, includes a distribution center but not Kerr’s long-term care pharmacy business.