Existing & Future Conditions
The activity center is located southwest of downtown Apex in the northeast and southeast quadrants of the future interchange of South Salem Street and the planned I-540 freeway. The area covers approximately 500 acres, most of which is undeveloped, with the exception of scattered single-family residences and small farms. South Salem Street bisects the area. Other important roads that provide access to the study area include Apex Barbecue Road to the north, Apex Peakway and Tingen Road to the east, and Kelly Road and Holland Road west of I-540. Railroad tracks of the CSX line run parallel to South Salem Street, with few at-grade road crossings permitted now or in the future.
The study area features rolling hills, with steeper slopes in drainageways of streams. Several perennial streams lie east of South Salem Street, which follows a ridgeline, and intermittent streams are found throughout the area. Per the Town’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), perennial streams have 100-foot buffers on either side in which development is not permitted, while intermittent streams have 50-foot buffers.
Planned Transportation Links
The portion of I-540 (TIP No. R-2635) from NC 55 in Cary south to US 1 is scheduled to open in 2010, and will extend to the NC 55 Bypass in southern Apex after 2010. The I-540 interchanges providing direct access to Apex will be located at South Salem Street and the NC 55 Bypass near Holly Springs, while closed-loop interchanges with no local street access will occur at US 64 and US 1. NCDOT’s design plans for I-540 indicate that the freeway will be below the existing grade, with a shift of the CSX line 180 feet to the south. Both the realigned rail line and a widened South Salem Street will be bridged to cross over I-540. Few grade-separated crossings of I-540 by other local streets have been identified in NCDOT’s plans, though the Town’s Transportation Plan recommends them.
Triangle Transit Authority (TTA) has designated the rail route from the trunk regional rail line to Apex as a corridor to be studied, showing that Apex could become the terminus of a spur. TTA is willing to coordinate with the Town to pursue a future connection to the regional rail transit system. A station in Apex would open no earlier than 2015.
In order for a regional rail transit station location to be considered, the area must meet TTA’s guidelines for transit-supportive development. The guidelines differ for station areas of various intensities, and the station in Apex, should it become a reality, would be the least intense of the station area types. The guidelines are to be applied over an area within a half-mile of the station, which is approximately a 10-minute walk, the distance pedestrians can travel comfortably. One set of guidelines is applied to the core area (within a quarter-mile of the station) and another to the implementation neighborhood area (between a quarter-mile and half-mile from it). These guidelines recommend minimum densities: 15 dwelling units per acre (DUA) within the core and 7 DUA in the neighborhood, and/or .5 commercial floor area ratio (FAR) within the core and .2 FAR in the neighborhood. The guidelines require mixed and concentrated uses, adequate access and parking, and an attractive, safe, and orderly station area environment.
Planned Open Space & Recreation
The Apex Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources Department has identified a need for an athletic complex at South Salem Street and Apex Barbecue Road. This planned park covers approximately 60 acres and includes facilities for baseball, softball, tennis, soccer, and skateboarding. According to the Apex Transportation Plan, the Holland Creek greenway would connect the park to other destinations inside and outside the study area as well as the American Tobacco Trail.
Future Market Conditions
A market study revealed that development supported in the study area will occur in 3 phases: before the opening of I-540 in 2010, between the arrival of I-540 and the opening of a rail transit station after 2015, and after the arrival of rail transit, should it occur. Prior to 2010, small-scale office and retail may occur in the South Salem Street corridor, along with some multi-family residential development. After the I-540 interchange opens, development will accelerate surrounding the interchange. Corporate tenants are likely to be attracted by the proximity to Research Triangle Park, RDU airport, and the rapidly expanding labor force in southern Wake County. Amenitized mixed-use employment centers will be supported after 2010, though freestanding single-use buildings will predominate before rail transit arrives.
The opening of I-540 will also bring a rise in the number and price of single-family homes near the interchange, as well as neighborhood retail such as supermarkets, restaurants, and small shops. There will also be some support for condominiums after 2010. By 2015, the market can absorb 600 to 800 apartments, with vertical integration (i.e. apartments above offices or shops) becoming more prevalent after 2015. The arrival of regional rail transit would also increase support for stacked-flat condominiums.