Church on Morgan Builds Community, Literally

Rendering of Church on Morgan

Rendering of

At the corner of Morgan and Blount Streets, there is a lot of renovation work taking place. The formerly quiet corner is being turned into a church. It’s not just ‘another church’ as some may be quick to judge but rather a space that is dynamic and can be used as the community sees fit.

After taking a hardhat tour with the leader behind this new effort, Justin Morgan, there’s something unique going on here. The group is working with In Situ Studio to really make this place stand out.

Called Church on Morgan, no relation with Justin’s last name but rather the street, this space is being planned to directly serve the downtown Raleigh and surrounding areas. It’s an extension of the Edenton Street United Methodist Church, which you may be familiar with their historic location at the corner of Edenton and Dawson Streets. The new space is a response from Edenton Street United Methodist to serve and engage with downtown.

The new sanctuary of Church on Morgan, August 2015

The new sanctuary of Church on Morgan, August 2015

The location has significance as well. The congregation here believes that the power of food can really bring people together for good and as such the place is envisioned to be a hub for Second Saturday, a monthly event that takes place along the Raleigh Food Corridor.

While some folks may prefer the traditional approach to prayer, Church on Morgan’s approach is different. In addition to food, entrepreneurship, supporting local community, and gathering are also key elements. They told me that they are here to support people with ideas who need a space to try them out. For example, the outdoor patio is built so a food truck can roll up and serve. Wifi isn’t private, it’s a public resource for those that show up.

Rendering of Church on Morgan

Rendering of Church on Morgan

The idea is to tailor the space for a growing demographic, the urban demographic that Raleigh is acquiring over the years. You may see Church on Morgan hold tech events, pop-up food vendors, or even neighborhood meetings from those that live nearby.

I am not a member of the Edenton Street United Methodist but when I heard about this project, I became intrigued and love the idea of them helping create “collisions” in downtown. By collision, I mean where people are brought together and form relationships around common interests. That’s how you build community and teams that are set to do good around the neighborhoods we live in.

Church on Morgan plans to open in October and will be an active part of First Fridays. I encourage you to stop by.

Corner of Blount and Morgan Streets, August 2015

Corner of Blount and Morgan Streets, August 2015

The Location’s History

In addition to hearing about the story, I asked for a little history of that corner. The project includes three distinct buildings.

  1. The two-story building on Morgan Street where H&R Block used to be.
  2. The office building on the corner that used to be a gas station.
  3. The attached warehouse building along Blount Street.

Church on Morgan will flow between all three of these buildings and very little additions are being added. Other than some entrance/exit changes and a new outdoor patio on the corner, the buildings should look the same even with a new paint job.

This corner of Raleigh was very automotive heavy in the first half of the 20th century. Car dealerships, gas stations, and repair shops clustered the area.

All photos below come courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina.

N_53_15_6011 Atkins Motor Company 1947

N_53_15_6011 Atkins Motor Company 1947

N_53_15_6012 Atkins Motor Company 1947

N_53_15_6012 Atkins Motor Company 1947

N_53_15_6013 Atkins Motor Company 1947

N_53_15_6013 Atkins Motor Company 1947

N_53_15_6014 Atkins Motor Company 1947

N_53_15_6014 Atkins Motor Company 1947

N_53_15_6015 Atkins Motor Company 1947

N_53_15_6015 Atkins Motor Company 1947

N_53_15_6016 Atkins Motor Company 1947

N_53_15_6016 Atkins Motor Company 1947

N_53_16_5380 Prob Atkins Motor Co Engine Tune-Up Equipment Feb 28, 1947

N_53_16_5380 Prob Atkins Motor Co Engine Tune-Up Equipment Feb 28, 1947

For digital copies of these images, note the call number, and contact Kim Andersen at State Archives at 919.807.7311 or email to kim.andersen@ncdcr.gov

Comments

Thanks for posting this Leo. An interesting read. I have noticed the activity on this corner but didn’t know what was up. Sounds like a great addition for the community. The rendering looks great.

I checked out In Situ and noticed that they were the architects on The Ten on Person.

Thank you for another great story, and thanks especially for sharing the old photographs!

Will folks be allowed to serve beer & wine at the site?

This is totally unrelated to the current topic but I thought everyone would be interested in the latest news regarding 301 Hillsborough:
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/real-estate-news/article30931662.html

It also used to be the site of Tapestry Church and Neighbor to Neighbor!

Thanks JWH for the info. !

I can’t believe that Sandreuter wants to grub this piece of land. He turned a great vision like The Edison into one of the most underwhelming projects in Downtown Raleigh, except for Skyhouse Apts, which he didn’t build anyway. He can’t build the West Apartments (I and II) and he is looking for someone to buy the land. Now he wants to buy 301 Hillsborough? For what?

Grub Ventures is the only developer I can trust to build something decent on that lot. They have the experience and credibility, as far as I know. The rest should probably stay out of the bidding process, although deep inside I hope that my fears are for nothing and no matter who buys the land will build something substantially large.

@Ernest – I would think (hope) that whoever wins the bid will HAVE to build something pretty substantial here (i.e.: tall, mixed use, active ground floor). Considering how much $$$ they’re going to be spending just to acquire the land, they need to build something that will bring them back the most profit, and another suburban, 5 story apartment building would most definitely not make sense, economically. Would you agree? THIS is what gives me hope.

Jake, I agree with you 100%. The architectural details and the ground level experience are on the top of my list, no matter how short or tall the building is. However, it makes sense that the more the developer spends, the bigger the building will need to be, but there are ways to get around this. Very expensive leases and overpriced condos/apartments could help make up for the high acquisition expenses.

The thing that scares me a lot, along with the not so “trustworthy” developers is that the land may be acquired and sit there undeveloped for a long time. While I prefer to wait more for a decent project, I would be extremely upset if the new owner flips the property 5-6 years down the road, of gives up hope developing it in a couple of years from now. The only three names that I trust at this point are Highwoods, Kane and Dominion Partners. I also like Grub Ventures, but they have yet to enter the high-rise development and I don’t know what they have in mind.

Lundy said with their first bid that their mixed-use tower proposal was contingent on them getting the land for reasonable price.

If that^^ is true, then why the hell would they keep bidding, as they stated they wanted to? They want to keep bidding until they acquire it at a higher cost, only to deliver a watered-down version of their original plans? How about just respectfully bow out and look for cheaper land elsewhere in the city to build their original vision? But vision; that’s a funny word. Nobody involved in city gov’t or development, besides maybe Kane, seem to have any of it. I’ve looked at Lundy’s past developments… a looot of suburban, plaza style office buildings and ugly/generic housing. I can’t say I’d even have high hopes for their original vision. I don’t like this (from the article Ernest posted): “Under the bid process, the council must consider a sale to whoever submits the highest bid and developers aren’t required to disclose details of their plans.” So someone could buy the land without even any clue of what they plan to do with it, basically. And, as Ernest acknowledged, could lead to this land STILL going undeveloped years even after purchase. Until the sale is final and decent development plans/renderings are shared, I am worried.

Sir, it’s just reality. The more money you have to spend on land, the less money you have toward the remainder of the project. I think a chill, wait and see approach is appropriate at this time. Way too many doomsday hypotheticals being tossed around as this site has become accustomed to. But I’m sure many will not take this advice.

I could be totally wrong about this but I just can’t imagine spending 3.5 million bucks only to sit on it long term while not earning much income. That’s a lot of bucks to leave idle. Perhaps a year or two at most as the folks who bought the Enterprise lot are doing but that’s about it.

A name missing for the 301 lot bid is Ted Reynolds. Kinda makes you think he may be eyeing the N&O block.

@ William

I have been wondering about Ted Reynolds myself…
Was he mearly toying with the business community in his earlier statement about what he wanted to do in downtown generally? Or is his eye really fixed on one or two properties in downtown? Has he totally given up on lot 301? Maybe he will be a partner with one of the other developers? Inquiring minds want to know…does anyone have his email?

Regarding Ted Reynolds, there was a N&O article I mentioned here in the recent past, where Ted Reynolds seemed to have his eyes set on the 301 Hillsborough parcel. In the same article he mentioned the 20-story cap, but I am not sure if he meant it in a positive or a negative way. I need to find that article again and re-read it.

As for the “negative” comments, we are all speculating here, since potential developers are not always clear about their intentions. What we see is suburban developers trying to do something in an urban location. Until we see something concrete – and encouraging – we have little reason to cheer. That is reality, too.

@Ernest, right on the money, as usual!

Would like to see the Edison, N charter, and the hotel on Salisbury get started so we can continue the momentum. Sad to say, but it sounds like the development at 301 is going to take some time. I know Edison is about to break ground in a few months and N charter is next summer.. Any word on when the hotel on Salisbury will get started? I’m tired of looking at that dump on Salisbury St were the hotel is supposed to go.

@Ernest. We can only hope that it’s something “concrete”. 😉

That same year, the North Carolina General Assembly bought a lot from a local businessman and started making plans for Raleigh, which was by the way, modeled after Philadelphia, the US capital state at that time.

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