Pic of the Week

South Street, December 2016

The sites of various car repair shops and the former Ice Market and Grill building have been cleared along West . 42 units of residential are planned for this land, which were covered in more detail in this post.

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Thinking again about the square loop intersection at Peace and Capital….
Right now, southbound traffic on Capital to Glenwood South usually means that Peace carries the bulk of that load. I can imagine Johnson carrying more of that load in the future, especially if the two sides of Johnson are realigned in the block between Harrington and West. This is probably going to cause Johnson to need traffic signals, or at least 4-way stops, at both Johnson and West and Johnson and Glenwood in order to manage the increased load.

Not sure how that’s related to the post, but I’ll bite; wouldn’t that require Johnson St to be realigned? I thought the Smokey Hollow project was going to prevent that from happening.

Word is they’re doing some major excavation clean-up here and won’t start building until this Summer. Possibly (hopefully) retail on the ground floor.

@CarnifeX
You are right, I commented on the wrong post. My bad.
The Smokey Hollow project will not prevent the reconnection of Johnson.
http://dtraleigh.com/2016/07/site-plans-smokey-hollow-show-johnson-street-connection/
SR-53-2016 is the case with the city where you can see the reconnection.
http://gsa.raleighnc.gov/search?q=smokey%20hollow&client=COR_WEB&proxystylesheet=COR_WEB&site=portalprd

This portion of South Street makes for a perfect neighborhood retail strip. It will be nice to see its revitalization. I hope that this proposed ‘residential’ development includes space for retail, at least at the corner.

Hopefully in the process they can get rid of that stupid eyesore of a so called bike rack in front of Boulted Bread. The city plopped that thing on the street. After all the efforts to install art like bike racks that are pleasant to the eye they toss this cheap corral up. It would have been considered futuristic in 1960 maybe. We can do much better. Maybe they can tale a ride and get rid of that other eyesore in front of Deco too. I am not anti bike, have one and ride it all around town!

well, to bike riders, the bike rack works and is appreciated. to others, maybe its not fancy looking enough.

Of course it works, I use it too, could be better, much better. Why leave it in a parking spot on the street, just move it into the middle of the street, even better. Does not need to be “fancy”, just my opinion. Would be even nicer if it was integrated into the wall between the tables and the next lot. Anyway, not that big a deal, whatever.

@Al, maybe the eyesore in front Boulted will be replaced with bike share station?
🙂

I really wonder what all the booming interest in this part of town means for the Heritage Park community.

Awesome, that is a good use of that space!! Brilliant.

Hopefully means a bulldozer will be coming soon….

The N&O is reporting that the sale of their downtown properties has fallen through. http://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article124738099.html

I was getting a little suspicious given that the sale was made over a year ago and nothing had really progressed. I wouldn’t mind if they kept the Father and Son location.

I doubt that site will last long, McClatchy has to be “motivated” to sell it.

A little update on soccer ! Mr. Buxton & son that owns Charlotte Motor Speedway is asking 50 million from the county , 50 million from the city , & he will spend 50 million to build a new stadium . The county commissioners & city council are meeting behind closed doors ! Mr. Buxton wants to tear down Memorial Stadium & rebuild ! Also in St. Louis , the soccer bidder has asked the State for 80 million toward the stadium & the new governor elect said that no way will the State do this ! The Governor said that the 80 million would have to come from a private investor !

PLEASE NO SOCCER STADIUM!! We need MANY MANY other things before we need something like soccer!

@bob148 I’m curious what you mean by “many other things” besides soccer? Do you mean the city should be focusing on other projects besides a sports stadium? Or do you mean you’d rather have something other than soccer (ie. baseball)? Or is it a traffic or a land-use issue? Honestly, this is not a passive-aggressive question…I really am curious.

The reason I ask is because–reportedly–Malik has said he could fund construction without public funds. Now, I’m not naive enough to think the city/county won’t be asked to help in some way, but I certainly don’t think it would be asked for the same level of assistance that’s being asked of Charlotte/Meck or St. Louis.

And, for the record, I’m not a huge soccer guy, I actually prefer baseball. (My dream scenario is a Mudcats relo to DT Raleigh…I originally sketched a baseball stadium for this blog, but re-imagined a soccer stadium after the many comments suggesting it). What I am, however, is a sports nut and a downtown Raleigh nut! I love the idea of a stadium downtown–especially a privately funded one–no matter what the sport. If it’s fun and brings people downtown, I’m usually for it! (Except maybe the trolley pubs, haha).

WRAL reported this morning that Steve Malik has just purchased NWSL’s Western New York Flash and will relocate the reigning champion team to the triangle for 2017 season. Formal announcement to be made this coming Monday.

Applications for MLS expansion are due by end of month. I’d imagine we’ll learn more about potential stadium plans soon enough.

I think that this will be an interesting time for a stadium complex discussion from our elected officials as well as the business community. I put it that way because of the op-Ed piece in today’s triangle business Journal regarding the desire for the Raleigh convention center to expand where the current Red Hat amphitheater is currently located.

Hey @will. Yes, I agree and am a huge downtown Raleigh fan as well. What I meant.. was I would prefer to see our focus on infrastructure and bringing more business and retail downtown vs just throwing in a soccer stadium.

I would love Raleigh to because the technology hub of the east… and in order to do so.. we have a ways to go.. and if we could bring in more technology related businesses to downtown.. that would be a step in the right direction.

I personally would just love to see any government funds or investor funds go towards something other than soccer (my personal opinion of course)

TBJ just posted rendering of 301 Hillsborough ST.
http://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/news/2017/01/06/lundy-hyde-street-holdings-raleigh-tower.html

Looks Awesome

I mean, adjusting for population, Raleigh is already one of the nation’s premier tech hubs, especially when it comes to biotech. Unfortunately, not much of that is downtown. I agree, I’d love to see the city recruit a biotech cluster downtown. RTP actually has a lot of that kind of real estate already, and more in the pipeline, but downtown Durham is developing an “innovation district” that will feature a lot of biotech (especially from Duke-related companies).

On the subject of the “east coast tech hub” I absolutely agree with the sentiment, but should probably keep it in perspective. I’m not entirely sure how one would measure that, but one common way is Venture Capital investment. A good metric might be to outpace Boston and New York (the two largest tech hubs on the East Coast) on a per-capita basis. Because of population differences (and thus economic size differences) it’s unlikely we’ll compete directly with those metros on a gross basis.

@Drew,
Thanks for posting!
My initial thoughts are:
1. I’m glad the Flying Saucer is staying. The gray box on the bottom left is the FS site, and I think this building incorporates it beautifully.
2. The name won’t (can’t) last. Durham’s new skyscraper is called “City Center” and we can’t have two…
3. The rooftop terrace between the towers will be something unique in Raleigh.
I hope this gets approved and financed asap, so the people at the Dawson can finally admit they live downtown and 20 stories is hardly “10 times bigger” than everything else.

Have you seen the new rendering of 301 Hillsborough building.

@Drew & @Jacob. I don’t know about y’all but I’m counting more than 20 floors. If I count down from the top left of the photo, I am getting 22 including parking floors. It might be 23 if one counts the retail level as 2. It’s inconclusive. If both buildings were similar in height, it would make sense that the residential tower had more floors with their slab to slab distance being less than that in an office building.
The amenity deck is nice but expect that to be the next target of the residents of the low rise condo across the street. I’ll bet my life that they attempt to curtail or eliminate anything fun from happening up there at night. It will end up being just a daytime pool deck for hotel guests and apartment/condo residents.

Wow. That is certainly something. I hope it gets approved and built ASAP. Also glad the Saucer is staying. The contrast in scale will be pretty cool to see in person.

I don’t think it will dwarf the Holiday Inn like that, and it looks like the other sides will have a different appearance by those panels showing.

I wish they could renovate the outside of the holiday inn like they did with the one near Crabtree.

According to the site plans (SR-93-2016) the building will only be about 245 feet tall. Essentially the same height as the holiday inn next door which tops out at 239 ft. I wouldn’t get that excited over the rendering. The are messing with the scale to maximize height that will never happen.

Please Santa, let Kane buy the N&O site and show downtown how to build a real deal modern tower structure and get it done very fast.

Al..was thinking the same thing. Redeveloping that block and having a 40-story Kane Tower would probably interest him. Hope so anyway!

I just love how Raleigh continues to grow despite its “lack” of modern tall buildings. It’s a beautiful city, with amazing energy. It really is like a city located within a park.

Maybe we can get a shiny gold Trump tower with his surname spelled out in 20 ft high backlit letters like they have in Chicago?
If y’all want a giant tower, you gotta go find a giant corporate tenant. These things are built for our amusement. #firstthingsfirst

I meant “aren’t”

To get a huge corporate tenant you have to have a huge corporate tower to put butts in those seats in that tower. That is done by smart companies and people like Kane that go out and hustle, network and present the value proposition. It can be done, it takes hard work and hustle. Not going to suck itself.

Very few who have been building downtown can’t pull it off, not savvy enough, Kane can make it happen and it does not have to be 40 stories, 39 will do just fine.

You don’t build huge towers like they are in the movie “Field of Dreams”. Kane isn’t building commercial RE in North Hills completely speculatively. He’s working both ends of the deal in tandem.
Kane is now jumping into the DT pond in a significant way and I expect that he’s following a similar model. It’s just that he doesn’t own a huge swath of land DT like he has been able to assemble over time in NH. As a business man, he’s going to be more interested in making money off of what he has in NH first and that puts him into competition with the city center and other nodes within the Triangle. He’s in it for himself; it’s called capitalism….like it or not, it’s how our system runs. If her continues to prove successful in his business, he’ll look for the next place to succeed. Will it be downtown in the long run or will he find his next NH somewhere outside of DT? Who knows but you can bet your life he won’t be coming to DT out of the goodness of his heart or his love for DT the way that we love DT. For that, we need to find billionaire who has the same affection that we do. Unfortunately, our most promising local billionaire is all wrapped up in Cary. Go figure…

Although, goodnight owns an assemblage in the South west corner of downtown so I’ve heard. Anyone know which parcels/what the name of the entity is, or if I’ve been misinformed?

I would love to see the 301 project get going soon. But with projects in mind like the Edison and Charter Sq North, I’ll believe it when I see it. Sorry to be negative. At least Kane has moved quickly with his project.

I’m not sure what y’all are seeing, but that 301 Hillsborough rendering looks like one uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugly building to me. I mean WOW, can they make it look any MORE like a Frankenstein’s Monster mish-mash of buildings??? I’m not enjoying this trend of developers buying up an entire block and then designing a giant parking deck with what is supposed to look like “multiple buildings” built around said parking deck. This spot deserves better, but I’m hoping this is just the first of many renderings.

@Jake. I hear ya. I am trying not to overreact to what I am seeing now because I know that it will change as the design goes through revisions. What immediately jumps out to me in this current rendering is its emphasis that this project is not being envisioned as one building, rather two towers built upon the same retail and parking pedestal. That said, I think that the two need to relate better to each other. I don’t expect that they will end up being exact “siblings” and, frankly, I don’t think I’d want them to be but they should at least be “cousins”.

@John532, exactly – the multiple towers thing is cool, but the designs should compliment each other. In this first rendering, it looks like they just vomited 5+ different building ideas onto a parking deck.

Yeah… the ultra modern, industrial minimalism design that we’re seeing, especially those designs connected to NC state’s design school/the AIA, are imo pigeon holed and dated (not timeless). We’ll look back on these one day and say, wow that architecture is so 20 teens. If all a developer can afford is a 20 story box, how about dress it up with some classic architectural elements, trim, and details instead slapping a glass angled extrusion on one side, or extruding a steel paneled box that looks like a shipping container glued on the side of the building.

Architecture, like most art I believe, should be inspired by nature and natural forms more often than industrialism, which is designed for efficiency and economies of scale rather than creative expression.

@Evan, @Jake, @John532. I have to agree with you guys. The disparate style of those two towers in no way adds to the overall design.

In my opinion that box slapped onto the side looks like a sad attempt to copy the sky lobby built into the Dillon.

http://www.kanerealtycorp.com/project/the-dillon/

@Evan, while I agree that good design is imperative, I don’t see how classic modernism is a bad thing and how a building can be associated with a particular time is bad either. It’s only bad when the design is bad. Good design associated with a time period is wonderful. Bad design associated with a time period gets worse by the decade.
IMO, dressing up modern tower with classical elements would be a huge mistake. We already tried that in the post modern years and most of that stuff looks like garbage. Classical elements belong on classically scaled buildings, not high rises.
Now, if they want to borrow from classic minimalist architecture of another era and do it well, I say bring it on. http://madisonint.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/TSO-One-Bush-Street-Keith-Baker.jpg Or, if they want to update/interpret a bygone era style as well, that’s fine too. https://www.chetson.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/wake_justice_center.jpg Just do it well!

Forgive my lack of knowledge on architecture, I was not picturing post modern design when referencing classical elements. I was thinking more Chrysler building with arches, symmetry, and IMO beautiful balance. Perhaps all I meant to say: I don’t like the 301 hillsborough design thus far, nor the trend of rectangles on boxes with slanted exterior walls that seem to protrude from each other in a sharp, chaotic way.

There’s something inviting and gorgeous (and expensive, I know) about a curve..

@Evan, I think in every urbanist’s fantasy, their city would have a Chrysler Building! This includes mine. That is my favorite tower in the World. It’s often touted as the most important Art Deco skyscraper in the World. It’s really, really special.
That said, the reality is that economics dictates what is built in cities. For us to get the sort of architecture that we want, there has to be an economic driver and/or a corporation that really wants to pony up the money to do it. The sad economic reality is that big square boxes that maximize a site footprint also maximize the rent that tenants pay or square feet to sell.
Corporations with strong brand identities and deep pockets can make this happen but savvy business people in the game of speculative real estate are usually looking at their bottom line first. Every dollar put into design will be weighed against that dollar spent’s ability to bring in more rent money.
Another way to get better design is for the city to have leverage over the process. While we may lament the city allowing “ugly” buildings to go up, what is its choice? Developers aren’t breaking down the doors in competition with each other to put up towers on the last parcels of land in our city. How cities can control design is through guidelines, streetscape plans, etc. but they cannot dictate the sort of grand architecture that makes a building special. They can also withhold approval for a project’s design but they have to balance that with being careful as to not discourage developers from investing in our city because the city needs the private sector to execute on its vision. It’s a codependent relationship.
IMO, where the city has the most control is in historic preservation and civic development. For example, the Convention Center was built by the city. In other words, the city was the client. In that case, there was control by the city as it worked with architects to bring their vision to life. Just look at the Convention Center side by side with the Marriott. Which is the better building? I think that I know your answer! Guess why?

^^These^^ are some fantastic points, and have made me calm down a bit on my “good design” high horse. Thanks, John.

Just curious.
With ALL the great development going on in and around Downtown Raleigh, does Shaw have any plans to expand the campus, build new dorms or add new faculty buildings?

That area around Wilmington Street and South Street (just South of Charter South), perfect location to remove all those ugly old buildings that look abandoned and have a developer (someone like Kane or anybody (but the Edison idiot or Clearscapes)), build a structure LIKE Stanhope (different design) for the Shaw students. New housing/apartments, with retail at every turn street level.

Shaw is a great area for expansion of retail and on campus housing for students (more amenities for Shaw student body and visitors to the area).

Shaw has no money to do anything. I have a friend who was a professor there. They were never paying professors on time which is baffling.

Shaw is a poor HBC in South Raleigh. There’s not the kind of money to do that. It’s not NC State…

Kane built stanhope.

@ Dwight
I think that Wake Med soccer park in Cary will be the new home of the pro-soccer team (if they win it) as well as the new women’s team Carolina Courage. After reading up on the Cary Wake Med site it shows seating already for 10,000 which can be expanded as well as sitting on 150 acres. A win-win for Cary?

Soccer Stadium. Unless the stadium is in downtown Raleigh, I will NEVER attend a game. I am not a soccer fan at all, but would support our team (now and then) if not in the middle of a cow field.

Play in Cary, count me out (that cow field atmosphere is awful)

Trying not to start this debate again, but Robert, the MLS bid is for an urban stadium near downtown Raleigh. Cary will be the training grounds. If the MLS bid is not awarded to Raleigh, then yes, the team will likely play at WakeMed Stadium. Owner is presenting his plan to Raleigh Chamber as I type.

@mike You got a scoop? Details pleeeeease!!

@Robert
Do you have any knowledge of this or just guessing? I’m still really hoping they do something in/around downtown. Thanks.

Maybe the point is to play at WakeMed until a new stadium is delivered. Think of that plan as sort of like how the Hurricanes played in Greensboro until the arena was built in Raleigh.

MLS requires an urban stadium for expansion. Hopefully, Malik can pull this off with limited/no request for public funding initially, otherwise we’ll be bogged down by the “anti-everything crowd:” and miss our window. Raleigh needs to beat out charlotte, usa for this and maybe Nashville. The best way to deliver this is to be able to demonstrate we can build a MLS-‘owned’ stadium downtown.

Interesting article about Westin Hotels looking into the downtown market.

http://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/news/2017/01/11/westin-hotel-plans-to-open-in-raleigh-by-2019.html

As has been recently reported Steve Malik just purchased the NWSL Buffalo/Rochester Flash (to be renamed NC “Courage”). This team was NWSL champs last season, have 5 players invited to train with the U.S. national team, and just recently traded their 3rd round draft pick for Brazilian Olympian Debinha which will help bring international interest and exposure. The NWSL 2017 college draft is tomorrow by way.

As I understand it our new woman’s team will play the 2017 season at WakeMed starting this April! In the eyes of MLS commissioners support for this new woman’s team will serve as a proxy, I would think, on the level of support a new MLS franchise might garner here. I hope the Triangle comes out in droves to support the Courage.

Last season attendance in NY was a pitiful 3,868 fans which is the primary reason the team is now here. We’ll have to do much better than that, hopefully as well as the Portland Thorns with 16,945 in average attendance.

http://www.starwoodhotels.com/element/directory/new-hotels/all/us/nc/detail.html

Are there any renderings of the Element Hotel coming to Downtown Raleigh?

I Googled ” Latest info. on cities bidding for a major league soccer team ” ! I saw a article dated Dec. 21st that gave some good info. on Sacramento , St. Louis , Tampa Bay , & the article said that all 10 cities would be covered soon ! Also articles on Charlotte & Nashville’s bid !

@Jake, thanks for the kind words. Don’t get me wrong, the city should do everything that it can to influence the design in a positive direction but it’s not going to be able to hold more cards than it has.
The city would do better to recruit image/brand conscious companies and corporations to its core and then let them drive better designs through build-to-suit towers.

BTW, that TBA Element hotel is sited at 603 S Wilmington street, the McDonald’s block that was discussed recently.

@Evan
I would love to know how tall they propose the hotel to be? I saw it isn’t supposed to open until 2020.

Element by Westin is a very good looking hotel.
Great atmosphere. This is excellent news for downtown Raleigh. 2020: if all goes as planned, possible ground breaking mid/late 2018.
As I said earlier about Shaw area. This can be the catalyst to cleaning the whole area up.

@Thonas,

I’m guessing you are too young to understand the sarcasm with the ‘charlotte, usa’ moniker. In the 90’s the napoleonic complex suffering city used this as part of their ‘branding’ campaign. I lived there and people actually got upset if a media outlet referred to charlotte as ‘charlotte, nc’ . They still have issues with that to this day which just reinforces the ‘napoleonic complex’ stereotype.

12 story, 192 unit hotel proposed at Enterprise site at McDowell and Cabarrus

122 feet.. I guess it’s better than nothing but I wish it could be at a little taller.

12 stories at Enterprise lot is a HUGE loss, IMO. I’m not looking for Manhattan, but I would like a few high-rises. And that was one of maybe 2 or 3 spots that was suited for one.

@Will, that site is zoned for a max of 12 stories per the new UDO. This is playing out exactly as I expected. Nobody is going before the city to ask for a variance to go higher than the published limit.

12 stories/122 feet on the Enterprise lot is CRIMINAL. Absolutely horrible. However, I can hold onto hope that the even bigger lot directly next to it – the one Poole’s uses for parking – will one day be home to the MONSTER that we all want to see on the Enterprise lot.

I’m curious. What is so attractive about this particular lot that taller buildings are preferred over the typical heights? I can’t see it.

Leo, I think it’s because if the gap in the skyline between PNC and BB&T ever gets filled in that surface lot is kinda the last hope for something 30-40 stories.

Anthony, I live sorta kinda in the Shaw direction and an tell you it is cleaning up pretty fast. Individual houses are being renovated at a rapid clip even south of MLK. If anything I don’t want to see the single housing stock diminished out there with any privately built, student apartment schlock.
The Enterprise lot is so far downhill from either ridgeline (Fayetteville or Hillsborough) you lose a good deal of impact from any height. If it even matters. Which it doesn’t. Height doesn’t matter people. Building mix in an area(office, residential mix on a block etc), uses within buildings (ground floor retail primarily) and building orientation (placement of parking entrances, where does the building entrance face etc) matter most. Take this abomination in Atlanta as an example of what not to do. https://www.google.com/maps/@33.7713158,-84.3861334,3a,75y,185.08h,91.16t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1svJWDNlVqxfekxJDnd9h-RA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1
It is horrible is every regard. Seriously…streetview the block around it (600 Peachtree, Bank of America building). It is 55 stories tall. 55 stories of utter failure. I know, i know…that was 1991. Nowadays its understood that the other aspects are automatically going to be better now. Well, I am not convinced people here seriously care about anything beyond what our postcards look like.

Are commenters getting two projects confused here? The S.Wilmington St. hotel project was being talked about as 12 stories and then comments jumped to the Enterprise lot hotel project. I am not sure who’s commenting on what now. I think that Leo’s comment was about the S. Wilmington St site. If so, I agree. I don’t want anything too overwhelming as the core transitions to the Shaw and the neighborhood and I also don’t want the performing arts center overwhelmed.
From the west side of Fayetteville to Dawson and into the Warehouse District, I do think the city can afford more height.

We were talking about the Baptist lot, then the Enterprise project showed up on the Raleigh site today.

@Leo…For us high-rise fans, there are precious few lots in DT that are a) close to high-rise core of Fayetteville St., b) open for construction (requiring little demolition or relocation), and c) unlikely to be opposed by DT NIMBY’s. IMO, those lots are Enterprise, N&O, and proposed Edison tower site between PNC and SkyHouse. And yes, I realize N&O site would require demo, but that has been the plan all along. Alas, the 2008 recession killed our chances at what would have been the most beautiful building in DT (http://homeinspectionraleighnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Edison-1.jpg), and now we’re stuck with another low-rise stick-built in its place for who knows how long. Downtown Raleigh just doesn’t have many locations suitable for high-rise, so I just hate to see one more location fall by the wayside.

@Mark…I don’t think that having a picturesque “postcard” skyline and having street-level retail activation are mutually exclusive. Yes, that tower in Atlanta was poorly planned and offers nothing to pedestrians, but high-rises don’t have to follow that lead. Why can’t we have high-rise development and density? There will always be opportunity to add density, but spots for height are very limited.

@Will hit the nail on its head^^^ – These are also some early concepts of the Reynolds Tower that would have been on the 301 Hillsborough site, but was cancelled in 2009 – these images of “what could have been” also make me sad: http://www.raleighmsa.com/images/projects/DowntownRaleigh/ReynoldsTower1/ReynoldsTower1-RaleighNC-5.jpg or http://www.raleighmsa.com/images/projects/DowntownRaleigh/ReynoldsTower1/ReynoldsTower1-RaleighNC-7.jpg

Will, It just sounds like a mania to me. Height is just ancillary to me…I simply don’t “feel” it. Your assessment of the limited sites left for such towers is pretty much correct. I have added I think there are some candidate single use parking decks ripe for removal and replacement with much taller buildings as well. Also the recession didn’t kill the Edison as much as Sandreuter’s amateur status did. Who proposes all these huge buildings with absolutely no prelease bites? His drawing of a picture that never went anywhere doesn’t constitute a recession inflicted failure in my mind. To me the thing missing most in downtown has been and still is long contiguous rows of retail space. Like 2-4 blocks of uninterrupted storefronts. Downtown will feel fractured and difficult to operate in. Hargett is sort of there but City Hall block and Wells Fargo really screw up connecting the Fayetteville corner to the Ware House district. Same with Martin…the County and N&O (N&O being remedied soon hopefully) being the giant warts. Fayetteville St is also hampered by Wells Fargo, but could end up being a miracle ‘half mile’ one day. So everyday I walk downtown a time or two and wonder if say Gypsy Jewel, Devolve and Art of Style would do even better if they were all in a nice row of old Italianate storefronts instead of in far flung opposite corners of downtown. I know there is a case to be made for spreading retail around….but anyway, my point is healthy retail districts far outweigh in my mind “why can’t we get taller buildings” when I am circumnavigating the area. Also things like “why am I fighting for my life every time I ride a bike downtown”. Also “why can’t I get a $6 sandwich that tastes good and won’t clog my arteries”. I am obviously pretty fervent about my perspective, and figure since nobody else seems to articulate things that hit home for me, I figure I’ll keep offering up my what’s and why’s for everyone else to consider. I just got back from Amsterdam, and lets just say I was in heaven from an urban fabric standpoint

No one spends the day in downtown Asheville, and upon leaving says “they really need taller buildings”

As much as I hope the N/O, Enterprise North, and Edison lots add some bulk to the skyline (and I do), I think we all agree that downtown needs substantially more retail space. The lack of retail space is driving a lot of the rent increase. I’d love for Mark’s vision of a mile-ish long street of (nearly) contiguous retail establishments to come to fruition.

With that in mind, I think the two McDowell St hotels (this and the one at the car place) could be dramatic improvements for the pedestrian experience, and hopefully each has an active first floor.

I read (sometimes skim, let’s be honest) every comment posted to the blog. I can certainly relate with the desire for taller buildings, to a degree, as they do contribute to some kind of visual image of a city. That’s a nice-to-have in my book as there are great cities in this world that have a flat skyline.

I agree with almost all comments about what’s happening on the ground. Contiguous block, retail space, public space, these really contribute to the life of an urban area and DTR is fragmented with these things. That is why, in my opinion, I support a few lower-rise buildings compared to taller ones. The Edison may be poorly looked upon by this community but walk around that building and there are windows to look at all around with shops opening up right now.

As for space for tall buildings, I think we need less space in order for developers to think tall. North Hills is a good example, it pretty much has set boundaries and once their master plan is realized, I mean that’s it. The construction stops unless they deem it worth it to start going tall in the lower-rise area.

Downtown has plenty of space, proved by the products we’re seeing. These low to mid-rise developments are all we can make work right now. With decades of neglect in DT, we’re still filling in the holes left by the lack of new buildings since probably the 1950s or 1960s. I say let them fill it in and force developers to be creative with less space. THEN I think the conversation around tall buildings can really take place.

I really think we’ve got awhile before we see skyline changing buildings and that might be a good thing as we get the transit infrastructure in place.

A few thoughts- why can’t we wish for both? Taller buildings AND more retail – come to think of it, imagine if some new buildings went taller and included two floors of retail! I agree, Drew, that Asheville offers a GREAT city experience without super tall buildings, however, I would argue that as the Capital city, taller buildings are more appropriate and even more important to have here. At the end of the day, though, I’d be fine with less height if the short buildings that are proposed at least had some architectural flair to them. Instead, what we get are short, fat, ugly boxes – boxes that also lack any sort of street presence (oh thanks for that one retail space in between a parking deck entrance and an apartment leasing office, I’m sure whatever goes in there will do REALLY well….)

Wrote/posted my last comment before seeing Leo’s comment, but that last line is a great point, Leo!!!

Leo, I think I’d agree with your assessment if the city hadn’t placed artificial height limits throughout most of downtown. I doubt 301 Hillsborough would have been exactly 245 feet if it weren’t for the zoning. If downtown proper had no height limits, and we were still just getting these kinds of structures, then I think your point would be valid. As it is, I think it’s questionable at best.

I’m guessing on this ! I bet Charlotte does not have any height limits in their downtown ! Why would our Raleigh Leaders do this ? What in the world would this hurt anything ?

Again, my desire is not ONLY height. Height for height’s sake with dead corridors is no bueno! I love Mark’s idea of continuous retail districts driving pedestrian activity, or bike-friendly streets, or a soccer stadium (even though I’m not a big soccer fan), or whatever else promotes density in the urban core. I hope all of those things happen.

I’m just saying opportunities for height are so limited. Zoning, existing structures (historic or otherwise), NIMBY’s, etc. are all pretty good at blocking big projects. Like I said before, I’m not looking for Manhattan, but…Austin? Nashville? I’d love that!

Demand will drive the desire to go higher. It’s not there yet. It maybe for the best some of these lots sit empty for now. Until they break ground (demo & building) and commit $ then the lot is always available. Approved site plans don’t mean that is what will go there. Just look at the turnkey tire site, it was approved in 2013 and never submitted for building permits. I look at too many of these every day and most worry about cost so that shoots anything higher than six stories. The higher you go means $$ to meet building code for a high rise. There choice not the City’s. It’s also up to them if they want to rezone and go higher. Any NIMBY’s will get ignored if $$ comes calling as in 40 stories + and $100mil ++. There is a lot in the pipeline now and as they finish and lease out the rental rates and occupancy rates will decide the backing by banks for for future bigger projects. Econ 101.

I’m not entirely convinced that height limits are a factor in what is being built. A deeper look into them may be needed.

I do think that our height limits are more emotionally driven rather than towards some economic, design, financial vision. Where did this arbitrary 12 floor, 20 floor, 40 floor step ladder come from? Why are these heights significant? How does it take into consideration changes in the market, cost of materials, demand, etc.

I’d like to see more rationale on height limits in Raleigh.

@Leo, my biggest concern about the step ladder approach you state is that we’ll end up with rows of buildings all near the same height. My biggest beef with the initial design of 301 Hillsborough is that the two towers are the same height. I’d rather see one taller than the other, even if only by 5 floors. It would be a much more pleasing design if it didn’t look whacked at just under 250 feet.
I get that the city wanted to “guarantee” that developers could build a certain size project to encourage development but the city could go one further and implement a streamlined process for exceptions within a certain range beyond the “step ladder”.
If all buildings stay within the UDO ranges, that means that we will never have a building taller than the PNC building because It already tops out above the 500 ft “limit”.

I think generally they’re not. But I absolutely think the 301 site would be higher if the limit were higher, and any site that’s exactly at the limit is likely to be a bit higher without restrictions. That being said, I don’t think it’s a huge difference at this point.

Honestly, though the whole idea of height limits in a CBD strikes me as absurd. I personally think there should be no height limits at all between Blount, MLK, Glenwood/Traintracks, and Peace, let the market decide. Have limits in transition areas, but don’t put artificial restrictions in what should be your jobs center.

FYI, the enterprise lot is zoned up to 20 floors. Building proposed is 12. Doesn’t look like the city is restricting anything here.

I would agree that 301 probably would be, and would look better if the eastern tower were taller and the western one shorter without the zoning in place. It’s my understanding that the height limits are not absolute no way no how, but rather, you can go above those with what, council approval? I’m not 100% sure what the process is, but I think it can be done.
North Hills is a great example of how downtown might play out…there was never a mention of 30 story buildings until they were at nearly the last site for NHE. I agree that rows of identical looking mid-rise buildings is not a good outcome for downtown. Dillion helps a great deal in looking different. My favorite skyscraper in NC is the Hearst Tower in Charlotte and something of that caliber in place of the Sheraton Parking Deck would be a perfect scenario to me…its along the ridgeline, next to the CC and among the heart of hotel land. Other lots that come to mind for possible future height are the Buffalo Tire and Firestone lots. The area between the future Hilton Garden and Whiskey Kitchen. The rest of the block north and northeast of Enterprise. The Mechanics and Farmers corner. Replacement of the parking deck at Salisbury/South/Lenoir/McDowell. Replacement of decks west of Sheraton. Moving the Pope House to east edge of block and using the frontage along Wilmington St, the Methodist Church youth center at Jones/Dawson, the Local Government Commission site between Jones and Lane, the Civitas corner (Ark Royal Hotel rendering shown for there currently) and the two City lots north of Memorial Auditorium (though I like the idea of a new greenspace there). So there you go…a five minute brainstorm of some potential sites for high rises (with admitted different levels of probability and difficulty)

@Mike, good point. I don’t think a large number of projects have or will be affected in the immediate future. I don’t think that makes the height limits any more logical, though.

@Mark, yes the developers can apply for a variance. This adds time and expense to the project and likely the city will use it to leverage some kind of concessions in exchange. I don’t think a developer with a credible plan and a desire to build tall will be deterred by these restrictions, Highwoods for instance will probably ask for a variance at Edison and they’ll probably get it, Above the Fold intended to ask for a variance before their deal fell through.

So I don’t want to sound like I’m too worried about it, I just think it’s a silly policy in the DT core.

FWIW, the North Hills East land “magically” isn’t bound to height restrictions like all of these parcels downtown. Hmmmm????
As copied directly from the interactive for the UDO:
PD
Description
Planned Development (PD)
Base Zoning
PD (Planned Development): This district is intended as a relief mechanism from the prescriptive standards of a general use zoning district. The PD District intended to be used to achieve a higher quality of project design than could be accomplished through the strict application of a general use district or set of general use districts, without adversely impacting the adequate facilities required to serve the property and surrounding area.

@Mark…love those ideas! I guess there’s more potential than I’d originally thought!

@Mark…also agree on Hearst Tower…beautiful! Has an art-deco/Chrysler building feel to it.

Come On Guys ! If my memory is right , we had 102 comments on Baseball vs. Soccer back months ago ! Lets go ahead & beat this sharing comments subject !

Just saw the rendering photos of 301 Hillsbrough, can someone explain to me why developers are only allow to go as tall s 20 stories high, why not 30 or 35 ???

Maverick , Raleigh has a UDO Code that states in different parts of our downtown , height limits . 40 stories or 500 ft. is the max. height in the downtown core of the Fayetteville St. area app. , 20 stories / 250 ft. for other areas which includes 301 Hillsborough St . Some areas are limited to 12 stories , 150 ft. Why The Raleigh Leaders has done this , no one knows! A developer can go to the council to request a rezoning change that does take time & probably more money ! Many of our readers can explain this a lot better than what I have said !

Supply vs. Demand = Hieght

Always has and always will.

Thoughts regarding the MLS bid.

1) It seems pretty clear at this point that the stadium is going to be located in or around downtown Raleigh.

2) Having the Courage team will improve our bid. Several of the current MLS owners also have women’s teams. It’s smart of Malik to make those connections with current MLS owners.

3) Charlotte and St Louis are asking for significant financial support from the public? St Louis’s stadium plan is just about dead at this point. Charlotte is asking for 100 million from the tax payers. This certainly gives us an advantage. Our owner, Steve Malik, will finance the stadium entirely. Like a boss.

4) I’m guessing that the MLS wants to put at least one more team in the SE. So really it’s a competition between Raleigh, Charlotte, Nashville and Tampa.

5) Since the bid is due by the end of this month, I suspect that we’ll hear more of stadium location and possibly even renderings by the end of this month. A good rendering could do wonders for generating public support for the NCFC MLS bid.

Paul , I think that you are pretty much on the right path ! I can’t hardly wait to see where
the stadium will be located ! Even as you know , I wanted baseball , I’m still very excited about a downtown stadium & hope that this all happens !

Downtown Asheville is actually a great example of what happens when you allow a non well thought out tall building to happen. The tall black BB&T building in DT Asheville is an eyesore.

Paul , Wouldn’t it be something if Mr. Malik bought The Cargill Site ! What A Project !

Dwight, yes that would be amazing. That’s my second favorite location. I still prefer the Gateway location in DT. I know Exploris Charter School plans to build there, but I’m still holding out hope that Malik can pull something off.

I have heard a rumor that Cargill isn’t an option because of railroad tracks at the site. Do you know anything about that?

Paul , The only thing that I have heard is that the investor that presented The Atlantic League Baseball Project last year mention this site to the city . James Sauls , Director of Economics , & James Greene , Ass. City Manager did talk about this location . Don’t know how serious the conversation went on this ! The meeting lasted 1 1/2 hrs.

The Keeter Training Center across the street is another option for a stadium since the city owns that facility. I have two problems with that one and the Cargill site and they are: 1)They aren’t well connected to the core of DT and, 2) they are just out of reach for most people in terms of leveraging existing parking supply downtown. We’d need both a stadium and a parking deck built. If we aren’t going to have a stadium within the walkable boundaries of DT, I’d rather see it built somewhere near the Farmer’s Market on the edge of the Dix property. At least then we could leverage parking that’s already there. Also, being a bit up the hill, the views of DT from the stadium would be a nice branding experience for the city.

Renderings for the Enterprise lot hotel
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article126633404.html
I actually like it

WRT MLS site, Gateway would displace people from their homes. Their are too many issues political, ethical, and otherwise for this site to be viable in timeframe required to complete stadium, if ever.

There is no perfect location. It all comes down to how you choose to weigh the many pros and cons any site will pose. Everyone will weigh things differently, of course, but by my metrics Cargill is best site.

o Doesn’t have severe political obstacles which will allow for relatively quick progress. Getting bogged down will kill our chances.
o Transforms character of south side for the better.
o Is only 1.5 miles from Moore Square. Downtown parking assets CAN be used and downtown business CAN benefit. Bus circulators could be provided on game day. I haven’t heard of train tracks being a problem? It’s a straight shot to our new train station. Anything away from downtown only creates another PNC arena situation.
o There are only 17 home games a season. Even with other uses stadium will sit idle majority of time. We are already complaining about running out of good locations downtown. Better to use these sites for purposes that add to downtown experience 24x7x365.

top priorities I see are:

o Ability to get something done in relatively short orde

Yes Stew , I agree with you ! In the cities study of the future Corridor Study of Blount St. / Hammond Rd. Study , the city mentions a possibility of a Sports Stadium !

The enterprise lots new hotel has left me throwing up in my mouth.William, this hotel is not only ugly, it’s cheap.It looks low rent. But thank you for posting.I love this blog!

@Bill. I agree that this initial hotel rendering is not what I was expecting and I hope that it makes leaps of improvement as the design develops.

Dwight..Ok I understand why.thank you. hopefully City leaders will eventually approve for a taller tower of at least 35 stories tall. someday, but in all Raleigh is Blooming at a steady pace.

Yesterday I was driving south on US1 through Hollywood, FL and came upon a massive project under construction at the north end of the Young Circle in their downtown. As I waited for the light to change, I tried to count the floors to no avail and was wondering how this project might compare in scale to the 301 Hillsborough project. So, after getting home, I went onto mapfrappe.com and plotted it vs. Raleigh’s 301 land. I also found the project website and discovered that the project was 25 floors (though it undulates in height and much of it is less than 25 floors. In any case, the Hollywood project is larger but it’s not substantially larger than the Raleigh project. It gave me a good idea of just how significant 301 Hillsborough will be.
http://www.hollywoodcirclefl.com/gallery
http://mapfrappe.com/

In the skyscraper vs. street level activity debate, I side more on putting focus on street level activity. The area in Washington DC near the Verizon Center now has many continuous blocks of street level activity, all developed within the past 10-15 years. It’s a great vibrant area that was “sketchy/seedy” at best, as recent as the mid 90’s. It can be done.

However, as Raleigh develops more connected street level activity, I believe the city needs one (real) iconic 500+ foot tower. Call it public relations, money shots, or even city pride for skyscraper enthusiasts. Just one of that height will blend really well with the 3 other existing 400+ ft. buildings. If Raleigh was a city like DC, Asheville, or Charleston, the need/want for tall buildings would not exist, but we already have the 400+ ft. towers.

Having said all of that, I’m glad Raleigh did not grow like Atlanta or Charlotte. IMO, it’s important to preserve the quaintness of the city with the growth.

@Dave, PNC is already above 500 feet. It’s 538 feet.
Wells Fargo is 400ft and Two Hannover is 431.
Are you saying that we need something taller than that one or just one more tower of that height?

I mean an actual 500 ft. building. A 500 ft. roof. The PNC is a 430 ft. building with a smallish 100 ft topping.

Agreed with Dave. When I complain about height, I admit I would be perfectly happy even if we only got one 600-700 footer over the next 10 years. As for that Enterprise lot Hotel rendering…. wow. This is getting REALLY OLD. Will a real developer with REAL VISION please stand up?

I had recent Visited Washington DC for New Years Eve and while in the Nations capital, I stayed at Dupont Circle, many Mid-rise buildings of, OOhh…say 15 to 20 stories tall, some much taller in various parts of the City. And I said to myself, Raleigh can build such buildings like these, Modern and Historic. Having said that, Do we really need Tall 40 Plus towers in Raleigh…..Maybe. But Why ? Raleigh needs to stand out from all the other cities in North Carolina. I admit I’m one of those Bandwagoners that want for Developers to build a 30 or 40 story tower, But We all want what is Best for Our city and be proud and call it Home. We all want to Marvel at the many amenities that Raleigh has to offer. Arts, Museums, Better transit, On and On and On..Instead of Just putting it on a Blog, take it to our city leaders and let them know this is what we as Citizens want in our City, Our Home. We live here not the many visitors that come to Raleigh. I had a friend that visited me from California and was abit disappointed at the lack of amenities we have, but overall he loved it here in Raleigh and said he come back to visit me. And Yes…I’m on my Soapbox, but I add one thing, the last comment here from JAKE, Yes jake it is getting real OLD, other than Developer John Kane, will a true Developer with Vision step up to the Plate and show what Raleigh can become.

To your point above, Raleigh has done a great job of integrating the community into planning. Personally, I look forward to participating in a work group on the Dix Park planning committee. It was free to apply and I am awaiting an email with my group assignment based on my experience and interests. I hope to have a say in what is planned at Dix park as I live along the Lake Wheeler corridor, and I hope that everyone gets involved in their local planning affairs.

Raleigh does lack identity on a lot of fronts. We’re just a “nice place”. A super tall building, associated with a super big company that can pull it off, would indeed help provide some identity. Of course I am not overly concerned with the tall buildings, but will say if it was say Red Hat or another large tech company that built a really well designed building that was say LEED Gold (or platinum!) then what would nail down our identity as a tech hub with good architecture and environmentally sustainable components to boot. As long as such a building is well sited (read not on top contributing historic stock) and situated (minimal parking deck access, lots of retail instead of dead lobby space…looking at you PNC), i’d cheerlead the [four letter word] out of it.

@Mark. I’ve talked on this platform and others that Raleigh needs to take control of managing its brand identity before we can expect anyone with deep pockets to really open up their wallet for the city. There has to be some assurance that the deep investment made will pay off on the back end.
In my opinion, Raleigh has not done its job to this end. A city that is so dynamic in almost every objective measurement shouldn’t continue to struggle getting the sort of marquis projects that we’d like to see. I can’t help but look back to the city snubbing world renowned artist and sculpture, Jaume Plensa as a key mistake. For a city that wants to be known as an arts capital of the South, that sure was a faux pas of enormous consequence.
Where’s the cool? Where’s the vibe? Where’s the vision? I see glimmers of it in some of the things that are organically happened like Raleigh Denim, Boulted Bread and Devolve Moto but there isn’t enough of it yet to tip the scales. The city can really make a great leap forward if it just got its head out of its ass and make a bold, unexpected move that differentiates it from others. Raleigh’s really cool because it has (fill in the blank) that other cities don’t. I’d really like to see the city get aspirational with a vision instead of just sitting on the sidelines methodically growing and sitting on its laurels.

John532, that’s really well said. I’m hoping to expand on that thought with an upcoming post. 🙂

@John532- couldn’t have said it better, myself.

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