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A sign on the House Creek Greenway just south of Crabtree Valley Mall informs bikers and walkers they’re entering Marshall Memorial Park. For now though, the trail looks like it’s entering a construction zone.
Bulldozers for months have been clearing a nine-acre tract off Blue Ridge Road that’s visible from the Interstate 440 Beltline. Once the massive retaining walls are in place, the five-story, 360-unit Marshall Park Apartments will begin rising within a few yards of the greenway.
Raleigh’s greenway system generally steers clear of developed areas, but running a trail through the fast-growing Crabtree Valley area posed challenges. “That property owner has donated much of the property for the House Creek Trail,” greenway planner Vic Lebsock said, explaining the unusual set-up.
As a condition for city planning approvals, the property owner agreed to provide 10,600-square-foot easement for the greenway trail, which officially opened last year. Former owner Rick Marshall also donated a six-acre tract north of the apartment site, which encompasses much of the park named for his father.
All that should make for an ideal apartment setting when construction is complete, developer Mike Underwood said. “We think that’s a huge amenity,” he said of the greenway and park. “We’re going to have a huge bike storage area. We’re going to have bikes people can check out as well.”
Marshall Park Apartments will join several other planned complexes in the area. Less than a block up Blue Ridge Road, the Kidd’s Hill property has emerged from foreclosure. The new developer there, Peter Pappas of Charlotte, got city approval last month for a 292-unit apartment complex that’s expected to break ground this year.
Both Pappas and Underwood aim to create a walkable community for their new residents. “We love the location because of being near Crabtree Valley Mall,” Underwood said.
Both sites have stayed undeveloped over the years because of the steep topography. Underwood said the retaining walls alone at Marshall Park Apartments will take five months. The goal is to use the slope to make the building seem less tall.
“What we intentionally tried to do is step it down the hill to take some mass out of the building,” he said.
The complex will have one- and two-bedroom units that rent from $900 a month. Underwood’s firm is also building a parking deck, clubhouse, courtyards and a cluster of 24 townhouses on the south end of the property.
Neighbors say they’re looking forward to the end of construction, and they’re hoping new turn lanes on Blue Ridge will be enough to handle the extra traffic. The first residents will move in early in 2014, Underwood said.