Epic Games has submitted a rezoning request to the Town of Cary that would clear a path for its ambitious redevelopment of the now-closed Cary Towne Center mall.
Cary-based Epic, which bought the mall property for $95 million in January, plans to move its headquarters from Crossroads Boulevard to the Cary Towne Center property in the coming years, eventually making room for thousands of employees for the video game developer.
Epic has grown rapidly in the past five years, after seeing its game Fortnite reach incredible levels of popularity across the world. Building on that success, Epic recently raised an additional $1 billion from investors, an amount that sent its valuation soaring to $29 billion. That new valuation made the company’s CEO, Tim Sweeney, the richest person in the state, The News & Observer previously reported.
In its filing, Epic said it wants to put 3.5 million square feet of office space on the property as well as a 200-room hotel and retail space. Building heights on the property could range from one to 12 stories.
Epic said the rezoning should be accepted because Cary Towne Center no longer had a place in the Triangle’s retail market. For years, the mall had struggled, losing many of its tenants, including crucial big-box retailers like JCPenney.
Before Epic decided to buy the property earlier this year, plans had already been put in place to redevelop the mall to include more modern conveniences.
Turnbridge, a development firm that had bought the mall for $31 million only two years ago, was granted a mixed-use rezoning for the property. In October 2020, the company had even announced plans for a project dubbed “Carolina Yards” on the mall property that would have seen the demolition of the mall. Carolina Yards was expected to feature 1,800 residential units, three hotels, seven office buildings around six stories and 360,000 square feet of retail, The News & Observer reported.
But Epic’s offer was too good to turn down.
In its current status, though, the mall is a “blight,” Epic said in its application.
“The current development on the property is emblematic of the outdated indoor mall concept which, well before the pandemic, lost favor with both people and businesses,” the company wrote.
But with Epic Games potentially bringing thousands of workers there in the future, the 87-acre property could once again become attractive to the section of Cary, the company argues in its application.
Epic noted that the large office and retail space that could be built on the property could attract other businesses to the area, while also benefiting the nearby Fenton development, which will include include apartments, office space, retail shops and restaurants.
The rezoning application isn’t the only ruling Epic is now waiting for. The company should soon get a decision from a judge in the antitrust lawsuit it brought against the iPhone maker Apple.
Epic launched its antitrust crusade against Apple last year when its popular game Fortnite was kicked off the App Store after Epic introduced its own payment system within the game.
Epic wants the judge to allow developers to have more than one way to get their apps onto iPhones; currently the App Store is the only option. Epic also wants users to be able to use any payment system they desire. At the moment, only Apple’s own payment processing system is allowed.
If Epic wins, the lawsuit could have a profound impact on how smart phones and app stores operate.
This story was produced with financial support from a coalition of partners led by Innovate Raleigh as part of an independent journalism fellowship program. The N&O maintains full editorial control of the work. Learn more; go to bit.ly/newsinnovate