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Review of RTP master plan underway

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The New York design firm hired to review the Research Triangle Park's master plan has begun interviewing people as part of its year-long assignment.

Officials with Cooper, Robertson & Partners began their work Sept. 1. They are currently in the early stages of a discovery phase that will involve talking to hundreds of property owners in the park, relocation experts, developers and officials with companies that have left the park.

The goal is to learn more about what makes RTP attractive and where things could be improved.

Rick Weddle, chief executive of the Research Triangle Foundation, which runs the park, reiterated today that the review is meant to reinvent the park for the next 50 years in a "transformational" way.

"Plan B has to be as dramatic as Plan A," he said. 

RTP's 7,000 acres are home to more than 170 companies, government agencies and other tenants that employ 42,000 workers and 10,000 contractors.

Large tenants such as IBM, GlaxoSmithKline and Cisco Systems will play an important role in deciding any future changes. "What get done will largely be based on what they want, or can be encouraged to do," Weddle said.

Any changes to the master plan will need to be approved by the park's tenants and the Research Triangle Foundation's board. Changes to the bylaws would likely require approval by the state legislature, while zoning changes would need to be approved by either Wake or Durham county officials.

A review of RTP's master plan has been in the works for years.

The results of the review will be eagerly anticipated by the legions of property owners, public officials and everyday citizens that rely on RTP as an economic engine.

The final report from the design firm is expected to be delivered in September.  Weddle said it's important not to speculate on what changes might happen before the firm's consultants have had a chance to do their work.

He noted that the foundation's board has given Cooper, Robertson & Partners their full support.

"We're confident that we have the right horses hitched up to get us to the right spot," Weddle said.

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About the blogger

Business reporter David Bracken came to the N&O in 2004. He covers commercial and residential real estate. Contact David at 919-829-4548 or e-mail him.