Duke Realty has plans for Perimeter; Site near RDU would get hotel, medical building, shops

MORRISVILLE -- Workers near Raleigh-Durham International Airport may get more shopping and hospitality options if a plan by Duke Realty gets the green light from town officials.

Duke, in site plans submitted to the town on Wednesday, revealed plans to add a hotel, a medical building and 30,000 square feet of space for restaurants, cafes, a copy shop and other services to Perimeter Park, the ever expanding office and industrial center off Airport Boulevard.

A few restaurants and shops are scattered along Airport Boulevard. But the 2.9 million-square-foot business park itself has few retail and restaurant choices -- a concern to Duke, which has lured the headquarters of technology companies such as Tekelec and Lenovo to Perimeter in the past few years.

"Amenities have fallen behind this new white-collar head count," said Jeff Sheehan, a senior vice president at Duke, which owns Perimeter. "We're trying to serve that, catching up to the office growth."

If approved, the project would sit on 17 acres at the park's N.C. 54 entrance, near a soon-to-open Interstate 540 ramp. It would be the first Triangle retail development for Duke, an Indianapolis real estate investment trust.

But it won't be the first retail at the intersection. A 115-acre Wal-Mart-anchored shopping center is expected across the planned stretch of I-540.

It's the latest growth spurt at Perimeter. Since 2005, Duke has built two speculative office buildings and completed most of Lenovo's 500,000-square-foot U.S. headquarters.

An apartment developer is building 150 units on Perimeter land it bought from Duke.

And more development is coming. Sheehan said Wednesday that this fall Duke plans to begin one of two planned speculative office buildings totaling 210,000 square feet at 2250 Perimeter Park Drive.

The company also is weighing whether to begin another 200,000-square-foot office building near the proposed retail project. That will only happen if leasing on the others is strong enough.

Meanwhile, Duke recently bought 150 acres adjacent to Perimeter to accommodate up to 1.3 million square feet of more offices.

The business park is already one of the region's most successful. All but 3 percent of its offices and warehouses are leased.

The office vacancy rate in the Research Triangle Park area was 18.4 percent at the end of March, while the warehouse vacancy rate was 14.2 percent, according to Karnes Research.

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