Southwest Wake County’s growth spike shows it’s no longer a bedroom community

What used to be a mere cluster of Triangle-outskirt towns is now one of North Carolina’s centers for economic growth. Even by Triangle region standards, which have been significant, Southwest Wake County’s growth has spiked over the last two decades.

The Census Bureau recently reported growth rateCaptures of approximately 26 percent in Apex, 35 percent in Holly Springs, and 44 percent in Fuquay-Varina, outpacing Raleigh in 2016. Residential growth in Holly Spring


s alone is expected to grow so rapidly that for every three residents today, there will be five by 2025.

As a site selection specialist and a local resident, I have seen the impact this has had on the workforce. Joanna Helms, Apex Economic Development Director shared, “Most people don’t realize that Apex has over 50 thriving companies that range from advanced manufacturing, wholesale distribution and precision machining to information technology, computer gaming and software development, as well as micro brewing.”


Following the population growth, retail market vacancies have been competitive, and are currently at 2.8 percent according to CoStar. It seems that almost every week, another grocer, restaurant, or other retailer announces an opening. As of November 2017, Southwest Wake had almost 30,000 square feet of retail space under construction, as well as five shopping centers proposed. Current mixed-use developments in Holly Springs and Fuquay-Varina create tremendous retail and mixed-use opportunities for business owners and consumers alike.

While retail development will always follow the rooftops and urban areas continue to thrive and grow, a new trend is emerging where many companies are migrating closer to their workforce. This has not only reduced geographic and traffic concerns during the recruiting process, but has also developed a quality of life for employees that, in turn, improves the quality of the company. Names such as Dell Inc., Rovisys, and Sequirus are located in the heart of Southwest Wake, producing thousands of jobs and catalyst for economic growth.


“Town leaders have strategically positioned the assets of the community to attract more life science companies. Highlights include: more than $100 million has been invested in roads, water and sewer projects and parks and recreation facilities in the last 10 years,’ said Holly Springs Economic Development Director, Irena Krstanovic.

Southwest Wake currently has over 75,000 square feet of industrial and flex space under construction. These properties are in addition to almost one million square feet of proposed development. Local municipalities are looking to grow their commercial tax base, as well as offer incentives for businesses to join their communities.

This, along with land availability, provides development opportunities for any


thing from spec space to owner-occupancy. Additionally, the construction of “Complete 540” project going through the southwest, there will soon be expedited access to RDU and other parts of the region. According to Economic Development Director, Jim Seymour, “Fuquay-Varina continues to see strong growth in the expansion of our medium to large manufacturing firms. Our geographical location is one of our community’s greatest assets for manufacturing and distribution.”




Raleigh rent increases below state average

Rents in Raleigh are up 2.7 percent over the past 12 months, but the rate of growth remains below the state average and the city is still among the most affordable metro areas in the country, according to recent reports from Apartment List.

The rental website crunched the numbers and found that across North Carolina, rents are up 3.3 percent for the last 12 months. Cary is the most expensive place out of the state’s 10 largest cities, with a $1,210 median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in November.

Rents in Raleigh are the second priciest in the state. The median cost of a two-bedroom was $1,120. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the city is pacing to be any more unaffordable than other metros across the country.

Rents are increasing nationwide, at the same time that the overall number of renters is nearing 44 million households, or about 37 percent of families. But Raleigh rates fairly well in terms of the number of renters who are severely burdened when they write a check to their landlord.

An Apartment List report released in November found that 42 percent of city renters qualified as “cost burdened,” which counts anyone who pays more than one-third of their income in rent. Many other comparable metro areas had higher rates, including:

  • Nashville, Tennessee: 45 percent;
  • Portland, Oregon: 50 percent;
  • Austin, Texas: 47 percent; and
  • Richmond, Virginia: 51 percent.

Researchers at Apartment List attributed Raleigh’s relative affordability to moderate rental rates and strong wage growth.