By ANA RISANO
2024 is likely to be a significant one for Southern Pines as change continues to come to Morganton Road with land to the north and south cleared and buildings taking shape.
The area has long been identified for large-scale development, said Bob Koontz of KoontzJones Designs. He’s been involved with the project for over a decade.
“That area was slated for large development in the 90s. There were so many reasons for that,” he said, noting the location and lack of environmental constraints.
The Morganton Park parcels are set in the middle of Aberdeen, Southern Pines and Pinehurst — not on the outskirts of one town. Koontz said all the development works well from a “traffic disbursement perspective” because there are multiple ways to get there.
He said the land had also been timbered in the 80s, so it was once a cleared site and essentially ready for development. He said there were no endangered species, only tiny pockets of wetlands, and it’s outside of any high quality watershed.
“So, that’s why that area was always designated as a growth area for the town of Southern Pines,” Koontz said. “ … It’s just coming to realization 30 to 40 years after that was decided.”
The town adopted a highway corridor overlay in 1989, which set standards for development near the roadway. Just over a decade later, the town also adopted the Morganton Road overlay, designed to “promote mixed-use development that reflects the town’s character and is compatible with surrounding residential neighborhoods” and “avoid strip commercial development and disconnect land use patterns.”
The Van Camp family had owned about 200 acres of the Morganton Road area since the 1980s, said Dave Crisafulli, development consultant for the family. He has worked with the Van Camps since about 2012.
They decided to start selling parcels in the 1990s, going the traditional route of hiring brokers and putting out signs. But it was slow-going because of the quantity of land and lack of infrastructure.
A lot of consideration was given to how different developments would work together and what roadways would look like within the property.
When Crisafulli joined, he estimated it would take about 10 years to do a complete build out with incremental development. While Crisafulli said there have been some hiccups along the way, it has kept nearly to the schedule.
“(The Van Camps are) the ideal kind of group that you want to work with,” Crisafulli said. “They’re very patient. They don’t have demands. They don’t have to live off the land. They have a lot of integrity, and they want something good.”
The Van Camps have sold most of the land for development over the last few decades. Crisafulli said about 30 acres are left and not under contract.
“It’s been years in the making,” Koontz said. “I think some of the things that have happened, the Morganton Road part, the Target, the BJ’s — those things are coming along quickly. And that’s happening very fast, and it’s a very large development. But everything else has sort of happened incrementally.”
Morganton Park South
Work on Morganton Park South got underway in late 2022 with the groundbreaking for the highly anticipated Target-anchored complex.
The town of Southern Pines approved the park’s nearly 100-acre conceptual development plan in 2021. It calls for development across nine phases — three of which have been approved, including the shopping complex, apartments and large box store.
The shopping center was designed to reflect downtown Southern Pines, with wood and brick facades and inviting outside areas with wide sidewalks, courtyards and water features. The developers worked to preserve an historic cemetery on the property as well.
“We’re really excited about the architectural character of the project,” said Bill Mees, director of development at Midland Atlantic Properties.
He anticipates the 147,000 square-foot Target opening in the fall. But a “big portion” of the other stores, including DICK’S Sporting Goods, Golf Galaxy, Five Below, Half Moon Outfitters and HomeGoods are likely to open in late February or March.
It was announced last year that the desire was to have DICK’S and Golf Galaxy open before the 124th U.S. Open comes to Pinehurst in June.
Additional tenants have also been confirmed for a smaller block of stores on the same parcel, estimated to open by the end of the year. It includes The Habit Burger, The Chicken Salad Chick, Goodberry’s Frozen Custard, Noire Nail Bar and Bibibop. The Habit Burger would feature a drive-through.
A 269-unit apartment complex with typical amenities like a clubhouse and pool, was also approved next to the shopping center in July 2022. The apartments, located on just over 13 acres next to the Morganton soccer fields, would tie into the shopping center design.
Mees highlighted the various pedestrian areas across the development, from the plazas near the clock tower and in between the smaller block of businesses to the multi-modal paths and linear park across the new four-lane Carolina Green Parkway.
“I think it’s going to be a good fit with the character of the town and complement downtown as well,” Mees said.
While the Van Camps owned a majority of this area, about 44 acres where Target is being developed were owned by local surgeon Neil Conti. Crisafulli said many negotiations took place to figure out the development and new roadway.
The Carolina Green Parkway cuts through Morganton Park South, connecting West Morganton Road to U.S. 15-501. Mees said final touches are happening now, with a plan to be finished in the next two months.
Morganton Park South will also be accessible from Brucewood Road via an extension of Southern Road to an internal traffic circle. It would go next to a BJ’s Wholesale Club, fuel station and Starbucks. This phase of development was approved in November.
The 14-acre site would host the over 101,000-square foot store and 2,500-square-foot drive-through. About 490 parking spaces would sit between the BJ’s and Starbucks, with a pedestrian path connecting the buildings.
Other growth has been happening in Morganton Park South, namely within the Lowes Foods-anchored complex. Recent construction has brought a sandwich shop, Brooklyn Pickle; a relocated Walgreens from Bennett Street; and a new dental practice, Morganton Park Dental Care. A sign outside the dental office indicates it is opening soon, but does not have a posted date.
Morganton Park North
Across the street to the north, there is more development underway. The 116-acre conceptual development plan for Morganton Park North was approved by the Town Council in 2018.
In 2022, the Town Council approved a mixed use development at the northwest corner of the Brucewood Road and West Morganton Road intersection. The plans call for a 300-unit apartment complex and up to 20,000 square feet of commercial space.
That project encompasses just over 20 acres within the overall development, which already includes the Legends apartment complex, Southern Pines Elementary School, the Pavilion building, the Pinehurst Medical and Pinehurst Surgical Clinic facilities and future home for Sandhills Pediatrics’ flagship clinic.
“Now, from a pedestrian connectivity standpoint on the north side, all the streets have sidewalks,” Koontz said. “ … If you live at the Legends, you can take your kid to school, walk to your job, walk to lunch, walk back and walk home at night. It’s set up that way. Now, it’s not downtown, but the scale of things there is very different than downtown.”
The planning board reviewed phase 10 of Morganton Park North at the end of December, which calls for the construction of two more medical facilities by Pinehurst Surgical Clinic.
It would include a 40,000-square-foot surgery center and a 120,000-square-foot medical office on an 8.7-acre property owned by Pinehurst Surgical Clinic Realty, LLC.
Koontz told the board it is a joint project between Pinehurst Surgical and FirstHealth of the Carolinas. He said that FirstHealth will be a part of the surgery center.
The proposed plan features up to 846 parking spots in surface lots around the surgery center and in a parking deck below the medical office building. Access to the site would be from Pavilion Way and South Carlisle Street.
The Town Council was scheduled to review the plan at its business meeting on Jan. 9.
Contact Ana Risano at (910) 585-6396 or firstname.lastname@example.org.