RALEIGH, NC-Developers of new urbanism projects, seeking to cash in on top rents for high-density, mixed-use ventures in prime Triangle area locations are often stymied by stringent government regulations and vociferous resident groups, attendees at an International Council of Shopping Centers conference here were told. Raleigh is 200 miles northeast of Downtown Charlotte.

Besides those obstacles, new urbanists must also win the approval of retailers and mortgage lenders who are more likely to prefer conventional suburban planning, the conference was told. A panel of speakers included Charlotte developer Neal Coker and Todd Mansfield, president of the Crosland Group in Charlotte.

In a published report, Coker says new urbanism can be tough to promote even in urbanized areas. He was recently lambasted in a meeting by more than 100 angry residents who object to his proposed project at Oberlin Road and Wade Avenue in Charlotte.

Coker notes that for every five people who buy a condo in his new building on Glenwood Avenue, an additional 100 would rather buy a house in the suburbs. He thinks it’s understandable that he try his hand at new urbanism, but government should not try to impose new urbanism concepts at a location where it won’t work. He plans to build homes, offices, shops and a movie theater in mult-tenanted buildings near some of Raleigh’s oldest neighborhoods.

In another example of the obstacles facing developers, the owner of a shopping center in suburban North Raleigh was recently instructed to adhere to city regulations and erect a fence on three sides of the center to shield the project from nearby houses. The fence is only a minor example of how government regulations in the Triangle may be slowing the goals of new urbanism, Raleigh’s planning director George Chapman says in a published report. Chapman contends that most planning regulations should not prevent successful new urbanism development.

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