Research Triangle Park was established in 1959 as a means to keep university graduates seeking science and engineering jobs in the area. Now, after acquiring nearly 100 acres nears 1-40 for $17M, the private not-for-profit that manages RTP, Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina, is introducing a residential and retail development project. The deal is RTP’s first step toward transforming itself from a series of sprawling corporate campuses into a thriving social scene. The project could also give RTP an inviting entrance point for visitors that showcases the research taking place within its buildings.
The mixed-used project, called Park Center, depends on the completion of a rail station that will connect Park Center with the three vertex cities of the Triangle. Currently, the land is home to the former Radisson Governor’s Inn, Research Triangle High School, and a dozen outdated office buildings. The foundation will identify a new location for the high school within the development, but the Governor’s Inn is set to be demolished.
RTP has come under increasing pressure to evolve according to the tastes of young, highly skilled workers, and its lack of amenities for its workers now stands in sharp contrast to the thriving business districts of downtown Durham, Raleigh, and North Hills. “The bottom line is they need to bring residential and retail to be able to compete with the other parts of the Triangle market that have flourished,” says Rich Harris, managing director at Synergy Commercial Advisors.
Park Center could eventually contain between 2.5 million and 3 million square feet of new development, according to the News and Observer. RTP is currently home to about 39,000 full-time employees, 170 companies, and more than 22.5 million square feet.