A Walk Around Bloc 83

Hillsborough Street is a hot zone of construction right now. Since One Glenwood opened in early 2019, the twin tower right next door has been going up without missing a step.

The whole project, Bloc 83, is a mixed-use development with office towers over retail plus the newly opened Origin Hotel along the intersection of Morgan and Glenwood Avenue. A new parking deck is being constructed along Boylan as well.

Bloc 83 is the main stage of the area now with the two towers acting as the hub of activity. Ground-floor retail mostly wraps these towers and the space between will act like a courtyard for future outdoor events.

To support it all, the Origin Hotel is now open along Morgan Street. In addition to the parking deck built for the hotel, a second is being put together along Hillsborough Street. I can’t help but prejudge the glut of parking being built here but these seem to be the times we live in.

Once completed, this should be a nice injection of office workers to Glenwood South. I’m interested to see how the courtyard can be used for events, something this area doesn’t do too often.

I feel like with a larger hub at this end of Glenwood, Glenwood South may have the epicenter that the nightlife strip was lacking in the past. Everything should be wrapped up sometime in 2021.

We’re following Bloc 83 like a hawk over on the Community. Join us!

A Walk Around The Creamery block in Glenwood South

In March of this year, New York City-based Turnbridge Equities bought some property in Glenwood South, the key building being The Creamery on the 400 block. While plans haven’t been submitted, renovations to the Creamery and development of the surface parking lots nearby are planned.

This map from Google, with my edits, show the properties involved in the sale.

The Creamery building is on the National Register of Historic Places and the latest plans state that they intend to preserve it as part of the new development. The more modern addition, the apartments and retail spaces, will most likely be torn down.

There’s plenty of surface parking on this block and it is likely that the developers plan to submit a rezoning for larger buildings here.

The brick, one-story buildings on the corner of Glenwood and North Street would also likely come down.

The site is almost 2.4 acres and if the Creamery is kept, which is great, I would expect some pretty tall buildings around it. The sale of the land was for $34.7 million and it’s possible the developers will go for the highest rezoning allowed, the 40-story max height.

What is desperately missing from Glenwood South is daytime activity from office workers and this site could inject thousands of daytime workers with a few office towers.

It is also located very close to a future bus-rapid transit line so I’m hoping a mammoth parking deck can be avoided but that’s how things are these days. Parking has been a sore point for Glenwood South businesses so maybe getting a large one here for daytime office workers and night life could be beneficial for this dense business area.

No plans for a rezoning have been submitted so we’ll wait and see how that progresses with respect to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic emergency.

Checking out the Recent Demolition work Near Nash Square

The block to the south of Nash Square, think Whiskey Kitchen, The Berkeley Cafe, and the former Firestone Auto, is looking a bit more airy these days. Bloc 122 (for the history buffs out there) has had plans for a pair of hotels in the works for awhile and demolition of the existing buildings look nearly complete.

Shown above is the southeast corner of Martin and Dawson Streets. The former buildings have been leveled and are now being shoveled away.

Past submitted plans suggest a nine-story hotel with outdoor terrace on the fourth floor. There haven’t been any announcements as to which hotel brand the building may be.

On the opposite corner of the block, the northwest corner of Davie and McDowell Streets has also been cleared out. Here, we’ve seen multiple renderings for a hotel and maybe that project will finally start in the near future.

You can jump back here to review the latest on this but the latest plans were for a 14-story hotel. This project has been around for over five years so maybe, just maybe it’ll start soon. The brands for this hotel were to be a Hilton Garden Inn & Homewood Suites.

And while not quite demolition related, I wanted to throw up more photos of this block. As the former Firestone Auto has closed up, it’s left a little bit of a hole here especially with the removal of that classic sign.

We’re tracking these developments on the Community so follow along if you want to join in on the discussion.

A Walk Around Chavis Park

In case you’ve missed it, a big piece of Chavis Park is getting a complete overhaul and there’s plenty to spy over the construction fencing these days. While you can’t exactly walk around the construction due to the creek, you can easily get a sense of how much is being worked on.

Some quick history, Chavis Park is being renovated with money from a previous parks bond. The scope includes:

  • Building a new gym
  • Building a new community center
  • Building a new central plaza with splash pad
  • Rebuilding the playground area
  • Renovating the original carousel house

During this phase (more construction phases to come in the future) the former splash pad and outdoor pool have been removed but a future aquatics center is planned.

Below is the front of the new community center as seen standing right next to the existing carousel house. The rendering and aerial shot come from the city’s website on the project.

Progress as of February 2020

The old playground is gone and the area seems to be used to hold equipment for now. Same goes for the parking lot.

The former carousel house has also been emptied out. Renovation work was much needed on this structure.

It’s been pretty obvious if you follow the news the Dix Park gets a lot of attention and people want to find ways to connect downtown Raleigh to Dix Park. They often overlook the immediate availability and access that Chavis has offered for years.

With a new community center, gym, plaza, and playground for kids, Chavis delivers that community space in the near future as Dix goes on its decades-long journey to become a destination park. It’s a perfect compliment to having spaces for all in and around downtown Raleigh.

Phase 1 construction is planned to complete in Spring 2021. Phase 2 funding is actually tentatively planned for a park bond this year.

Lucky #13. 13 years of downtown Raleigh Blogging

Today marks 13 years of doing this blogging thing. I like to call the art of being a Raleigh Connoisseur , RalConography. That works, right?

In the last few years, I’ve been trying to get in touch with more people, more readers, and bring the conversation about downtown Raleigh into the real world. The audience, you all, have been incredible.

There are still some people that keep in touch, online and offline, that have been around since the beginning, 2007. That slow growth over a long time has led to a strong foundation of community. A huge thanks to those of you out there. I appreciate you sticking with me.

At the same time, it’s just this week that I met new followers. They have either just heard of this blog because they moved to the area or they want to get more engaged. Hat tip to the new folks as well.

I’ll continue to keep the blog rolling with quick hits and photos of what’s going on in downtown Raleigh. The Community has really turned into a deeper dive into Raleigh politics, development, transit, and other cultural topics. The discussion is in-depth and there are some folks that are really making thoughtful and insightful contributions. If you want to go deeper down the DTR rabbit hole, join us.

I try to only ask once a year but I do take donations for my work on the front here as well as the back end to keep these websites rolling. Any contribution would be appreciated. It also goes a long way as a few dollars could support a whole month’s worth of hosting.

This year’s goal is to get at least 13 donations of $13.

Here’s how you can contribute:

  • Contribute through Paypal.
  • Find me on Venmo as @DTRaleigh
  • Email me if you have other ideas.

Last, each year I dive into the photo vault and post an older photo. Above is the steel shell that makes the Nature Research Center’s SECU Daily Planet theater. I remember during its construction that some national blogs joked that Raleigh was building its own Death Star.

It’s Friday so a beer is on order at the end of this day. Cheers!

City Starts RFI Process for Multi-Use Development on Fayetteville Street

The city has started the Request for Interest (RFI) process for a new convention center hotel as well as added mixed-use development for properties they own at the southern end of Fayetteville Street. The conceptual rendering above is what could go on these sites as they are currently zoned for up to 40 stories.

A website has been put up with more details so jump right into here if you want more. If not familiar, this would be for the two surface parking lots sitting right in front of the performing arts center.

It looks like there will be negotiations going on all year with developers but the key takeaway here is that a large hotel is needed to serve the convention center. A hotel with 400 or more rooms is key as the large amount in a single building allows for larger conventions. It is preferable to get everyone together rather than spread all over town.

Some highlights from the RFI:

  • Right-of-way is mapped to extend Fayetteville Street through the property creating two sites, each about one acre.
  • The 500,000 square foot Raleigh Convention Center (RCC) and connected 401-room Marriott opened in 2008, and the market has since outgrown the available hotel room block within walking distance.
  • The 2018 JLL Destination Strategic Plan recommends a new 500+ room convention hotel that, when combined with the RCC optimization effort, could generate over 100K new annual room nights.
  • Raleigh’s projected population growth is nearly 70% over the next 25 years.
  • Downtown Raleigh attractions drew 3.4 million visitors in 2018. Visitation to downtown attractions is up by 47% since 2007.

In addition to the convention center hotel, an office mixed-use tower would be desired here. This would also extend Fayetteville Street between Lenoir and South Streets.

This is very exciting to see and hopefully interest is very high for something like this. There’s also a video associated to the effort which is embedded below. (or here on YouTube)

Pushing it to the Limit on new height in downtown Raleigh

Downtown Raleigh. September 2019.

2019 is shaping up to be a pretty active year for development in downtown Raleigh. New projects have been announced and ground breakings took place throughout the year. One thing that kind of jumped out to me is the possibility for some taller structures in our future.

I put “possibility” in emphasis as there is a big window related to the height restrictions set in our development code. At the tallest end of the spectrum, we have the following zonings:

  • 12-story height limits
  • 20-story height limits
  • 40-story height limits

It’s a bit of a jump if a project wants to do something with 20-30 floors but you have to ask for permission to do as high as 40. Just to level set, downtown Raleigh’s tallest three towers (all shown in the header photo above) include:

  1. PNC Plaza with 32 floors (538′ to the tip of the spire)
  2. Two Hannover Square with 29 floors (431′ tall)
  3. Wells Fargo Capital Center with 30 floors (400′ tall)

Density is typically a more important factor for me personally but if height is what you are interested in then you probably want to follow along these new projects we’re tracking over on the Community.

121 Fayetteville

121 Fayetteville is planned to be a 30-story office tower right on Fayetteville Street. Sitting on the 100-block, on top of (or partially replacing) the Alexander Square parking deck, this new tower will be adding parking space as well multiple terraces on different floors.

For the zoning geeks in the house, the block already has a 40-story maximum, meaning this project probably just needs tenants to sign on before construction begins.

Find out more at 121fayettevilleraleigh.com

RUS Bus

The Raleigh Union Station Bus Facility (RUS bus) will be along West Street between Hargett and Martin Streets. This year, GoTriangle has received approval from the city for a rezoning with a height of up to 40-stories.

The bus station with a tower on top is planned to have a mix of housing, market-rate and affordable, as well possibly office and hotel uses. The tower portion is being worked on now but it seems that a 20-story height limit was limiting in possibilities here.

We expect more details on this project next year but you can find out more here: rusbusnc.com

Smoky Hollow Phase 3

Future site of Smoky Hollow Phase 3. September 2019.

You must be new if you haven’t heard of Smoky Hollow so please jump back to the tagged posts and catch up. Phase 3 was formerly zoned for a maximum of 12-stories but a request for the 40-story maximum was approved this year.

Those behind the project shared details of a mixed-use building with housing on the lower floors and a tower for offices. The development may have active uses along Harrington, Peace, and Johnson Streets as it’ll further build out the fabric of the Smoky Hollow developments nearby.

You can see more about the nearby projects delivered by the same developer here:

506 Capital Boulevard

Opposite of Smoky Hollow Phase 3 over Capital Boulevard, another 12-story zoned property is seeking a rezoning for a 40-story maximum. The developer wants to get the rezoning set for a possible large tenant in the future and could build a tall office tower on this 1.5 acre property.

Currently, the rezoning ( Z-17-19) is working its way through the process and may hit the city council for discussion early next year.

From conversation on the Community, the location wasn’t so clear. The site is located on Peace and alongside Capital. Below is an aerial with some labels to help orient readers.

Aerial shot by @xtremetoonz. Edits made by Leo Suarez.

Like I stated earlier, it is a big window in height between 20 and 40 stories. 121 Fayetteville is advertising a 30-story tower but, pending rezoning approval in some cases, the others may be 20-somethings or closer to new heights up and around 40.

As always, this new trend will be interesting to watch play out!

Digging Into Raleigh Through Baseball

Started in 2018 and growing throughout 2019, the MLB Raleigh movement has been creeping into different sectors of our city. “the time is now for Raleigh to get organized and put their city and their support for Major League Baseball on display,” their site says.

The folks behind MLB Raleigh have made merchandise that have flown off shelves. Trophy Brewing made a beer. Their profits go towards fixing up baseball fields, partnering with the Boys and Girls Club of Raleigh.

They also have the data to show that we line up, sometimes better, than other cities that have established professional baseball teams.

The guys I’ve talked to behind MLB Raleigh are enjoying the questions they get when they announced to the city, “Why doesn’t Raleigh go for a baseball team?” (see their FAQs) The community has shown up for this and through it, ideas for a team, location, and stadium, have risen out of this grassroots effort.

Whether an MLB team in Raleigh makes sense or not is one thing but behind the covers of this sports-related effort is a true Raleigh-based conversation. The group is using baseball as a vehicle to help educate others on the region’s size and growth, start conversations on city planning and transit, and even diving into a much-discussed topic in Raleigh; brand.

What would you call our baseball team?

Where would your baseball team play?

What colors or logo would they use?

That has been an exciting aspect to watch as MLB Raleigh has tapped Raleigh’s design community to brainstorm and create. You need to dig deep and figure out what, with a logo or name, speaks to people and tells them that this is Raleigh and no other place.

In August 2019, a design event showcased some of those team names and logos that have come from those thinking about how to speak Raleigh to potential baseball fans. This is a fantastic exercise in a topic that I think is important for Raleigh.

What is Raleigh’s brand?

One aspect that I think a lot of folks forget or either don’t know is that Raleigh really was a small town leading up to the mid-1900s. You could argue that we are in the first big growth boom that Raleigh has experienced. Other cities have seen growth at different periods in their history so have been able to layer that history, and aspects from it, on top of each other, making it a part of their identity. (and their sports teams for example)

As Raleigh’s growth continues it would set us up well if the city could find that identity and build some kind of foundation to build on. We have the opportunity to blend many different perspectives with so many locals and newcomers.

With the baseball movement, we may get more out of it than just summer-time games to skip work for. If baseball helps bring out an aspect of our city that we can embrace and the world starts seeing it as the Raleigh-way, it’ll be more than just baseball that benefits but something that Raleigh-based businesses, non-profits, residents, and visitors can experience 365 days a year.

It may just take a logo or name that tells the Raleigh story.

If you’re interested in MLB Raleigh and getting involved, check out their website and sign up to be a supporter.