Alston Regional Activity Center

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The Alston Regional Activity Center is located around the interchange of N.C. Highway 55 and Interstate 540, at the southwestern edge of Research Triangle Park. The Alston area will someday draw people throughout the region for shopping, offices, housing, parks and other public places. In March 2006, Town Council adopted a special Mixed Use Overlay District and an associated Activity Center Concept Plan in order to proactively plan for and pre-zone this area for state-of-the-practice mixed use development.

Adopted Plan

Part I (Introduction, Allowable Uses and Development Limits, Design Standards)

Part II (Design Standards continued)

Part III (Appendices - Illustrative Diagrams, Project Background and Definitions)

The adopted Alston Concept Plan includes specifications about land use types allowed, including development limits for commercial, office and residential space. In addition, the plan includes detailed design guidelines that address things such as public streetscapes, building placement, public spaces, roadway network, trails and open space and public art. The plan’s design guidelines apply both to development plans submitted under the Overlay District, as well as development plans submitted under existing base zoning.

Two years after the adoption of the Alston Activity Center Concept Plan, it came up for its first re-evaluation. The Alston community and Town staff embarked on an eight-month process to review the Alston Plan, resulting in a list of amendments that were approved by Town Council on Dec. 11, 2008. Some of the major amendments included identification of responsibility for residential unit type mixes, limiting single-loaded main street segments, adding an artist-designed seal into the Streetscape Entry Features and clarifying public art opportunities in the Alston area.

In December 2012, the Alston Activity Center Concept Plan was amended by Town Council to replace the vertical mixed use design standard with a more general mixed use design standard. This mixed use design standard is associated with main streets found in the Town Center, Neighborhood Center and Special District Design Zones.


The 2002 Northwest Area Plan called for a mixed-use regional activity center at this location. In late 2004, Town Council approved a process to proactively create a detailed Concept Plan and Overlay District for Alston.

An Activity Center Concept Plan (or ACCP, also known as a Mixed Use Sketch Plan) effectively “activates” specific types and amounts of uses in a mixed use overlay district. Land owners within the Alston overlay district can develop their properties either under the pre-existing base zoning or under the Alston Activity Center Concept Plan. In either case, future development will adhere to the design guidelines outlined in the Alston ACCP.

The Alston Regional Activity Center is the last of Cary’s four regional activity centers. At 960 acres, it is larger than our other regional centers: Cary Towne Center, Crossroads, and Harrison Square Shopping Center/SAS Institute campus.


For information, dial 311 in Cary or (919) 469-4000 outside Town limits, or email