By: Joel Bryant
Since opening in 2001, Heritage Wake Forest has seen some of the biggest development in the area. In addition to the building of hundreds of single family homes and townhomes, the neighborhood has had a lot of commercial development. Between schools like Heritage, restaurants like Charlie’s, dentist and doctor’s offices, and numerous banks and grocery stores, Heritage has become a de facto town in a way. Heritage is a self-proclaimed “Master-Planned Community”, and it looks like the plan isn’t complete yet.
Despite recently completing and filling up the Gateway Commons shopping area, Heritage and the Town of Wake Forest will move forward with the plans to add another large shopping center to the community, called the “Shoppes At Heritage Village”. Approved by the town back in November, this large commercial development will significantly change the landscape of the area. Unlike Gateway Commons, the Shoppes are sure to have a big impact on the students of Heritage High School.
Soon construction will begin on the corner of Rogers Road and Forestville Road- the last corner to remain undeveloped, as well as the last chunk of nature that kept HHS separate from the commercial world. The shopping center will have two entry points from Forestville; one from Rogers Road, and one from Foundation Drive. For the uninformed, Foundation Drive is the main road that runs through the HHS campus. Foundation provides access to the front circle and the student parking lot, making it the clearly most traveled road on campus. According to the Wake Forest Planning Committee, the access point will be placed directly across from the front circle, creating a 4-way intersection.
Of course, the idea of this change coming to Foundation Drive concerns many. Some suggest it is not right to put a large commercial hub directly next to a public school, while others hesitate over the fact that the Shoppes will bring a lot more traffic to the area. There even exists a small group of Husky loyalists who oppose the idea simply because of all of the school flags that run down the right side of Foundation Drive.
On the flip side, a lot of people in Heritage are excited about the new development and wonder each day what the new shopping center might bring to their community. The Shoppes At Heritage Village will feature an array of new options from a new grocery store, dozens of shops, and even the inclusion of Heritage’s first national chain restaurants.
After months of speculation, the development will in fact be headlined by Publix, a grocery store chain in the South. Publix will be surrounded by 31,000 square feet of shops that are to be scattered all about the complex. People should expect numerous stores and eateries in these locations. The plans also reveal allocated space for three extra zones of development, called “Outlots”. These little parcels of land are almost always used to put in national chain restaurants, i.e. the average Chili’s or Texas Roadhouse. Should one of these chains settle down in Heritage, it would be the neighborhood’s first chain restaurant not named McDonald’s.
Without considering the potential negative effects of the Foundation Drive connection, the new shopping center itself is very well designed. With hundreds of parking spaces, multiple bike racks, and a very healthy number of sidewalks, internal traffic should be no issue. The developers have also made plans to retain the two ponds in the parcel of land and use them as a fixture piece for the site. Additionally, the Shoppes will also include a buffer around the buildings, so students and staff shouldn’t be able to see the Publix from HHS.
In order to get approval from Wake Forest, the new development had to accommodate the plans to turn the trail in the back of the school into a greenway. The plans also call for a change to Forestville Road. The construction will add a permanent lane on the HHS side of the road, allowing for better morning traffic flow. The workers will also add new medians to Forestville, which should improve the road’s safety and visual appeal.
Of course, there are still many questions to be answered. After the construction is complete, will Heritage students be able to walk to the shops during lunch? Will the construction have a negative effect on morning and afternoon traffic? Will Starbucks finally take a chance to enter the Heritage market?
After months of silence on the matter, Publix and Columbia Properties have officially announced that Publix is coming to Heritage on the developer’s website. According to the release, Publix is scheduled to open up in Q1 2016 (Jan-Mar). Additionally, the announcement confirms that the new shopping center will be connected to the Heritage High School campus through Foundation Drive. Most importantly, the website reveals that a nail salon will be a part of the new shopping center.
Columbia Properties included the following concept art in their release: