Pic of the Week

Rendering of Hargett Place

More like Render of the Week.

Above is the rendering for Hargett Place, a group of 19 townhomes for East Hargett Street. I’m into this project because of the high-quality (perceived anyway) as well as unique townhome design shown in these renderings. This is a housing type that I think is hugely lacking around downtown Raleigh and I would like to see much more of it.

For sale, rather than for rent, units are also nice to see in a part of Raleigh where rentals dominate so some balance to the market always seems like a good thing to cheer for.

The rendering reminds me of brownstone rowhouses that you can spot in older cities in the northeast. I can see a very comfortable street face along East Street with these homes facing City Cemetery. Once new sidewalk trees mature it’ll be a nice place to walk in the future.

Pic of the Week

Harrington Street, September 2016

Looking up at the crane over the site of The Dillon, it gives you a sense of what kind of presence the new building will be along Harrington Street. (assuming the crane is at its highest height, not to be raised later, of course)

Citycamp NC 2016 is on September 22-24


Registration for this year’s Citycamp NC is open to the public and once again, I’m helping spread the word about this fantastic unconference. In its sixth year, Citycamp NC continues to get bigger and this time will be in downtown Raleigh at Nash Hall.

CityCamp NC is a three day unconference event focused on innovation and collaboration for municipal governments, community organizations and citizens.The event includes open sourced talks, workshops, and hands-on problem solving to re-imagine the way the web, applications, technology, and participation will shape the future of NC cities.

The final list of speakers is still being finalized but to give you a hint of what to expect, the event will include:

From the inspiring lightning talks during the first night all the way to through the weekend sprints, it’s always been an active and energetic event. Let me know if I can answer any questions that you may have.

2016 Citycamp NC

Date/Time: Thurs., Sept. 22 to Sat. Sept. 24
Nash Hall
108 S Blount Street
Raleigh, NC 27601
Register here

A Walk up South Street

West South Street, August 2016

West South Street, August 2016

On a warm Sunday morning, I took a walk along South Street, an area of downtown Raleigh that has a lot to talk about. South Street used to be the original southern boundary to the entire city.

Today, you could argue it’s the southern boundary of downtown but generally Western Boulevard/MLK Boulevard holds that title. South Street could just be the boundary of the “walkable downtown” as points south of it have no real business concentration and the area transitions to neighborhoods and wider streets.

The main point of the walk was to get a sense of the two-way street conversion that is currently under construction. With it’s pair, Lenoir Street, the streets have been pointing people in one direction for a few decades. The change may have a significant impact on the area.

Below is a map of points of interest and spots mentioned in this post.

If you don’t see the embedded map, click here.

East South Street at South East Street, August 2016

East South Street at South East Street, August 2016

Going east to west, South starts at East Street in the South Park neighborhood. (You guessed it, the southeastern corner of the original city) There is a mix of single-family homes, some newly renovated with others in varying states of age.

Nearby Lenoir Street makes for a great entrance to Chavis Park. When the two-way conversion of Lenoir is finished, eastbound traffic can come from downtown and into the entrance along Lenoir. Bicyclists can also exit the Little Rock Trail on Lenoir to get into downtown, and vice versa. It’s just a more direct route.

The pull of the park should increase over time as the master plan is carried out. You can read more about it on the project page on the city’s website. While Dix Park is exciting and getting all the attention, Chavis Park will be downtown Raleigh’s true park in my opinion.

East South Street, August 2016

East South Street, August 2016

Walking along, the area transitions into Shaw University and for a few blocks, there is a mix of single-family homes and collegiate buildings. Renovations on housing continue here as well with Shaw working on internal changes at the moment.

Recently, Shaw has shown positive signs of getting their books in order as this TBJ article (subscription required) states that employee pay is going up. I wrote about Shaw for Raleigh Magazine as well if you are interested in additional reading on the subject.

As you head past Shaw, you start to enter the Downtown Overlay District according to our development ordinance. While not quite exciting at this time, the area is zoned for urban development at much higher heights.

Standing on the edge of the district at Wilmington Street is a McDonald’s restaurant. I think it’s worth mentioning here as our newest development ordinance may make a big change here.

This particular McDonald’s hasn’t been updated like the ones in the rest of the city and I want to think I know why. If I recall correctly, the owner of this McDonald’s was against the new development ordinance, seen during the public comment period last year, and claimed the ordinance would prohibit him from making renovations.

UDO and Current Zoning of the area

Snapshot of the UDO and zoning of the area from iMaps, August 2016. Click for larger.

McDonald's at Wilmington and South Street, August 2016

McDonald’s at Wilmington and South Street, August 2016

The “Urban Limited” designation of that property dictates that parking is not allowed between the building and the street. I guess you can’t level the building and bring in a “McDonald’s in a box” like others have in Raleigh.

For now, we have an antique at the corner of Wilmington and South until an entirely new development comes about. I’m sure there are other examples of this coming change on the fringes of downtown due to the new development ordinance.

Parking lots along South Street, August 2016

Parking lots along South Street, August 2016

Next, you have the city-owned parking lots in front of the performing arts center. The city is thinking about how best to dispose of or use these properties, along with many other ones in downtown. Raleigh Agenda was at a recent public meeting about this and has more:

The most enviable property the city owns downtown may be the two-and-a-half acres at the south end of Fayetteville Street. Now a parking lot, the site sits directly across the street from the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. It is zoned for forty stories.

*The Best Ideas We Heard for the Ten Downtown Properties the City May Sell

Parking lots along South and McDowell Street, August 2016

Parking lots along South and McDowell Street, August 2016

Parking lots along South Street, August 2016

Parking lots along South and Dawson Street, August 2016

The same conversation also includes some of the gravel parking lots around McDowell and Dawson Streets. All I’ve seen them used for now are parking for amphitheater events, storage for convention center events (trailers, etc.), and fireworks viewing during July Fourth and First Night.

Here are all the properties that the city owns in this area.

City-owned properties along South Street, August 2016

City-owned properties along South Street, August 2016. Click for larger

No surprise to frequent readers but the Residence Inn hotel along Salisbury Street has topped out and is moving right along. I’m sure it will support the convention center but being under the 400 room magic number, it may or may not help book very large conventions.

Residence Inn Construction site.

Continuing east, the view of downtown from South at Dawson Street starts to get more and more prominent. You start walking uphill and the view is really photogenic.

West South Street, August 2016

West South Street, August 2016

The Heritage Park neighborhood spans from Dawson to South Saunders here along the southern end of South Street. Across South, long-time businesses and buildings have been operating. The South Street two-way conversion is taking a very wide South Street and adding bike lanes and landscaped medians here.

The TBJ reported earlier this month of a new development. NitNeil Partners, a builder of high-end storage, plans to put a four-story building where Rose & Sons Auto Service is currently located. The article states that they want to break ground this Fall.

The property is actually quite large and also faces Lenoir Street. The new storage facility will certainly have a major presence on this block.

West South Street, August 2016

West South Street, August 2016

West South Street and West Street, August 2016

West South Street at West Street, August 2016

Hopefully you’ve gotten a lesson on our historic street names as South West Street then intersects with West South Street. (The southwestern corner of the original city)

Around the intersection with West Street, older buildings contain convenience stores, a tattoo shop, and a club. Land is being cleared for 12 new townhomes along West between South and Lenoir. According to the site plans, there will be three four-unit buildings on the site with vehicle access to the alleys on Lenoir Street.

Land clearing for townhomes, August 2016

Land clearing for townhomes, August 2016

West Street Townhomes site plan

Click for larger

A convenience store on South Street, August 2016

A convenience store on South Street, August 2016

The hub of West South Street is probably found at Saunders and South, where a line of urban-facing buildings create a cluster of retail space. Shops such as Holder Goods, Boulted Bread, and Artikle 74 have moved in recently creating some neighborhood urban-scale activity.

Urban-scale retail shops, August 2016

Urban-scale retail shops, August 2016

The walk finally ends as South Street heads into the Boylan Heights neighborhood, the western bookend to South Park’s eastern bookend. The view looking back is the header image of this post.

South may become a strong artery for neighborhoods to get into and out of downtown. The residential elements already seem to be there with some institutional aspects, like Shaw, adding a different element that other streets may not have.

There’s certainly a lot to follow on the southern edge of town.

Pic of the Week

224 Fayetteville Street

This is a shot of 224 (left) and 222 (right) Fayetteville Street. 224 Fayetteville Street, or the Lewis-Woodard Building, has a fresh new front door. This is a huge contrast to the white marble, colder feeling version it had before. You can see the previous version in this April 2015 Google streetview.

A little background on the building from the Fayetteville Street Historic District registration form.

Lewis-Woodard Building
224 Fayetteville Street, ca. 1883, ca. 1925, 1957, 1985, Contributing Building

The three-story, Italianate style building has a brick exterior and extends the full depth of the block from Fayetteville Street to S. Salisbury Street. The facade has a remodeled storefront with original wall treatment surviving at the upper stories and at the cornice. The ground floor has a deeply recessed entry at the south end and a similarly recessed display window at the north end. Elsewhere, the ground-floor facade is covered with large tiles of white marble. The identical second and third stories are four bays wide with one-over-one, doublehung, segmental-arched wood sash windows. Decorative metal window hoods feature keystones and corbels. The elaborate bracketed pressed metal cornice has dentil molding and scrollwork with the same lionshead elements seen in the keystones on the Briggs Building. The three-bay-wide S. Salisbury Street elevation was also remodeled in 1985, when white marble panels were applied to the brick-clad building at the storefront, rising in vertical bands on either side of the center bay, and across the top of the third-story windows. Six-oversix double-hung wood-sash windows remain at the second and third stories; the first floor windows and centered
door were replaced in 1985.

The building appears as two separate structures on the 1884 Sanborn map: a three-story hardware store and office building fronting Fayetteville Street and a two-story tin shop and warehouse fronting S. Salisbury Street. Partners Julius Lewis and Nicholas West had purchased the parcel in two transactions in 1881. Lewis and West ran a hardware store located a few parcels north and across the street at 219 Fayetteville Street that had been in business since at least 1875, according to Raleigh City directories. The business remained at that location until 1883, when it moved to the 224 address, likely into a new building that Lewis and West had erected since their purchase. Lewis became the sole owner of the property in 1894; in 1906, he sold it to Moses Woodard, a local businessman. The building briefly housed the F. M. Kirby and Company Five and Dime before the F. W. Woolworth Company established a store in the building in 1913. Woolworth’s made alterations to the S. Salisbury Street elevation around 1925 and to the storefront on Fayetteville Street in 1957, merging it with the storefront of the Lumsden-Boone Building next door at 226 Fayetteville Street. Woolworth’s moved out of the building by 1972. In 1985, more changes were made to the building to house new owner Raleigh Federal Savings and Loan and other commercial tenants.

*Fayetteville Street Historic District registration form

Weekend Video: Capital Boulevard Makeover

From the meeting this week hosted by NCDOT, the video above was being played on a loop at the Borden Building in Fred Fletcher Park Thursday evening. If you can’t see the embedded video, go here.

The video is a great watch for those following this project and construction starts on Wade Avenue first this Fall.

You can find more on the NCDOT’s project website.

The Smoky Hollow Neighborhood May Be Making a Comeback

Looking West down Peace Street, August 2016

Looking West down Peace Street, August 2016

What would it take for a Raleigh neighborhood of the 1900s that was completely wiped out, literally paved over, to come back? It seems naming a new development in the 2000s after it would be a start.

The Smokey Hollow project will be a 12-story mixed-use project with 400 (400+ actually) apartments and retail according to the press release and recently submitted site plans. The press release doesn’t call out the name Smokey Hollow but the site plans on the city’s website are named just that.

A quick aside, I’m hung up on the spelling for some reason but to the best of my knowledge, the name of the neighborhood that was in this area of downtown Raleigh was Smoky Hollow (smells like smoke) and not Smokey Hollow. (the proper name of Smokey) As of this writing, Smokey Hollow will be the new development that is planned and Smoky Hollow will be the neighborhood that once existed in this area of Raleigh. (I’ve also tweaked previous posts to try and be consistent)

Now that I’ve got that out of my system, I’d like to dive back into the history of the area and how Smoky Hollow was cleared out by the State of North Carolina and their drive for what was called “urban renewal” in the 1950s and 1960s.

As part of a former project (Link Peace Street) that I was a part of, active in 2012, I have polished off this Google Map for reuse. Below is the map containing the old Smoky Hollow boundaries as well as former streets. There are also historic and present day photos.

As for the history of the neighborhood, Anna at her blog Reinvent Your Wheel has a great take on the area’s change in her blog post, “Capital Blvd: Raleigh’s Great Divide.” I’m posting a piece of the post with permission.

Smoky Hollow (which I’ve also seen spelled as “Smokey” Hollow) was a blue-collar neighborhood in downtown Raleigh prior to the construction of Capital Blvd in the 1950s. Everything I’ve found hints the it was a racially mixed area with both black and white residents which would have been somewhat unique to that time period. Its boundaries were roughly Peace St to the north, West St to the west, North St to the south and Wilmington St to the east. The residents of Smoky Hollow worked primarily for the railroad, mill, or other industrial businesses in the vicinity.

Children growing up in Smoky Hollow entertained themselves by playing on the train trestles and in the Pigeon House Branch creek, which has now been mostly buried. It was a solid community although it seems like it was considered to have been a little rough around the edges. The construction of Capital Blvd, with the addition of other projects, brought about the end this unique piece of downtown by the early 1960s when almost all the residents were forces to relocate. Only a few pieces of the Smoky Hollow neighborhood remain, including Finch’s Diner on Peace St and the store fronts found to the west of it.

*Capital Blvd: Raleigh’s Great Divide

Old storefronts along Peace Street, August 2016

Old storefronts along Peace Street, August 2016

Anna’s post also has a pair of maps, showing the before and after effects of Capital Boulevard punching through the Smoky Hollow neighborhood. In short, a grid of streets was removed resulting in two anti-urban hits to downtown Raleigh; a fast moving highway and the state government complex.

A neighborhood faded away as well as a baseball park. The Devereux Meadow ballpark, which has been mentioned on this blog before, predates capital boulevard, as shown in this 1952 aerial photo taken by the News & Observer.

1952 Aerial photo of Capital Boulevard construction. Reprinted with permission from The News & Observer.

Reprinted with permission from The News & Observer. Click for larger.

This photo shows Capital Boulevard (then known as Downtown Boulevard) under construction in 1952 or so. The project was finished in 1953. The view is looking south. This photo shows the intersection of Peace Street and Capital Boulevard. The ramps for the bridge have been graded. Devereux Meadow ballpark is in the foreground and across the left field fence is the Raleigh Cotton Mill. Across the railroad tracks from the mill is the Seaboard Passenger station. In the center is the Seaboard half-roundhouse adjacent to the rail yards. To the right of the roundhouse is Finch’s with cars parked in front. To the right of Finch’s is a collection of storefronts including the dry cleaning building. These are among only a handful of buildings still standing in the former Smoky Hollow neighborhood. At the right, you can see the Norfolk Southern tracks and trestles including the one that passes over Peace Street. The boundaries of Smoky Hollow were basically that area between the Seaboard railroad yards and the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks, and between North and Peace streets.

*Historical research by Karl Larson, History Editor, Goodnight Raleigh.

Let me add that you can still see some of the Smoky Hollow houses along West and Harrington Street.

The finished product can be seen below in this November 1964 photo, again from the News & Observer. The neighborhood is gone at this point.

November 1964 Aerial photo of Capital Boulevard. Reprinted with permission from The News & Observer.

Reprinted with permission from The News & Observer. Click for larger.

Over time, the area has filled in, mostly with state and county-owned properties. Economic development? I’m not convinced that was a successful result of the Capital Boulevard project of the 1960s.

Moving to the present, the original area of Smoky Hollow hasn’t seen any real movement lately except for the West at North tower. Located at, you guessed it, West and North Street the 17-story residential building opened in 2008 and is probably the anchor to any West Street activity near Glenwood South.

With a lot coming to West Street, the announcement of the Smokey Hollow project, artist’s sketch below, shows that we may be putting the pieces in place to bring back residential to Smoky Hollow once again.

Artist rendering

Smokey Hollow, planned for the corner of Peace and West Street. Click for larger

It may not look the same as 75 years ago but the Smoky Hollow of the future may exist in mid-rise apartments with ground floor retail.

In a future post, let’s take a look at some of the factors supporting this residential drive in Smoky Hollow. The pieces are all there including a creek, a new park, and calmer, better connected streets.

Pic of the Week

Christ Church Expansion

The latest addition to Christ Church is starting to really take shape these days. You’ve got to hand it to them for trying to make their newest expansion along Edenton Street match the historic building. They have an album of construction photos on their Flickr page.

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