320 West South Breaks Ground, Sets up Fancy Fences

Ground has been broken at 320 West South Street for 320 West South. The completely unique and originally named apartment tower will bring almost 300 apartments in a stand-alone tower. In addition, ground-floor retail space is planned and the parking deck will be built next door.

If you see in the photo above, the tower will bookend the 300 block of West South Street with the parking deck massaged between the apartment tower and the storage building currently up on South Street. It’s not a bad location especially when you look at a rendering such as this one.

I’m not sure there is a bad view here. I’m really hoping that this is a green or “green” roof there on that parking deck. We’ll get to watch this project rise up throughout the year and next as the tower is planned to open sometime in 2024.

Mapping Raleigh: Buildings by Year Built

Lately, I’ve been less active on the front-side of the Raleigh House of Connoisseur but have been heads down working with creating a new map. I don’t think I’m finished and honestly, haven’t even started any type of analysis, but I wanted to put an update out there and share something with readers.

TLDR? Just go here to the map.

The Background

I was inspired when I stumbled on this map of Paris, introduced by the tweet shown below. Technically, it was something I wanted to see if I could build for Raleigh but also, it would be interesting to see how the buildings of today have held up. Are we seeing “mass teardowns” as some people think? What other questions might we begin to answer?

I then found the “ingredients” on the city’s open data websites around Raleigh parcel data and using the “year built” field, I starting analyzing over 130,000 pieces of data.

The Map

The map I put together shows Raleigh’s existing stock of buildings as of May 2022. It’s important to note that this is a snapshot in time, not buildings constructed over time. For example, if a home built in the 1950s was torn down for a new construction home in 2015, the parcel would show in the 2010s decade, not the 1950s.


Please note that the property shapes have been optimized so that the map is somewhat usable. Don’t take them literally.

I grouped properties by decades with an additional “Pre-1920s” category. This was driven mostly by number of buildings as the counts before 1920 is pretty low. Here’s a bar chart.

That it?

Probably not. I’m releasing it into the wild and see how it sits for awhile. We are discussing it on the Community on this thread so if you have any questions or thoughts, please join us.

I’m hoping to continue tinkering with this map and see what we can extract from it. Questions I have could be:

  • Are there neighborhoods that have been completely turned over?
  • Are certain neighborhoods less susceptible to teardowns than others?
  • Where do you see a mix of buildings being produced at a constant rate?
  • Why is the building count in the 2010s so much lower?
  • How might annexations and border expansions played a role over time?
  • How might protectionist overlays, like NCODs and historic overlays, played a role?

Expect follow up posts in the future.

Diving Into A Future With Social Districts

In late 2021, the North Carolina Legislature passed a new bill (HB890) to allow social districts in counties and towns. Loosely defined, social districts allow people to buy an alcoholic beverage in one business and take it with them. You may have seen these in other cities where people can get a drink in a plastic cup and walk around an entertainment area or downtown.

I’ve done the same behavior in the past in places like Savannah and Key West and had my own first impressions about bringing that to Raleigh. I decided to look more into it and I’ll have to admit, my first impressions were a bit off.

Today, plans for social districts in Raleigh are being discussed in committee. The committee members and city staff want to get the rules in place in a thoughtful manner in order to minimize any unintended gotchas that may happen. Downtown Raleigh is a great place for the concept but places like Hillsborough Street or North Hills may have them in the future.

The topic right now is in Raleigh’s Economic Development and Innovation committee. The May 24, 2022 meeting, video above or here on YouTube, is a great one to watch and get a feel for the conversation around social districts for Raleigh.

Let me share some quick points that I took watching this video as well as an intro to the topic that took place back in February.


  • Allowing social districts was seen as a response from COVID’s hit on small businesses.
  • Social districts are seen as an economic development tool.
  • The feedback is positive that it does in fact bring more business to areas that implement them.
  • Kannapolis was the first to implement one, put in place one week after allowed.
  • Greensboro is the largest NC city with a social district today.
  • The Downtown Raleigh Alliance held a community survey that showed a majority (over 70%) in support of social districts in downtown Raleigh.
  • Major concerns are enforcement, bad behavior, and cleanliness.
  • An additional concern is the waste around single-use cups.

What I wanted to know is how this works and how I might use it during a weekend out. The topic is still being worked in the committee meetings but generally speaking, if you were inside some area that was a social district and went to a bar, you could have your drink put in a specially branded cup. That cup would also have a sticker with the bar’s name on it. You then have the freedom to take the drink with you.

But then what? The details are of course important:

  • You can walk around the social district with your beverage without issue but you cannot take it outside the boundaries.
  • Businesses inside the social district can either opt-in or opt-out of the social district. Therefore, if you’d like to do some shopping with a drink, that shop needs to say whether they allow the drink or not.
  • You cannot bring your drink to another bar.
  • You most likely can’t bring that drink to a special event that is also selling alcohol.

Some of these details are being finalized but any impression that this is a party-centric move is completely false.

I like to loosely compare it to buying a soda at a convenience store or food shop. You certainly can take it with you, drink it on the sidewalks, even bring it inside some shops. But it’s generally frowned upon to bring it into other food places. (at least I think it is)

Another use case I thought of is when there is a big event on Fayetteville Street that doesn’t sell drinks I like. If I want a tasty beer, I can now bring it with me, rather than having to sit at the bar to enjoy that tasty beer.

The general thinking is to allow social districts on Thursdays to Sundays from about 11am to 10pm. Sunday will probably end earlier. Times are still open and being worked in committee.

The next steps are to finalize the rules and how to roll out a pilot around Fayetteville Street and City Market. Then, the general council can vote on implementing it for the Fall. Keep an eye on the next meeting scheduled for June 28, 2022.

Pic of the Week

It’s all concrete over at 400 Hillsborough. The mixed-use tower is starting to show it’s presence as it rises out of the ground. We’re still 12-18 months out from opening but maybe it’ll top out before the end of the year? Happy new year indeed.

In walking around the area, it reminded me of a 2018 post about South West Street and a 2016 post about North West Street. I have to say that West Street may be a critical street for downtown Raleigh in a few years as new projects have been announced. I’ve added a follow-up post on my to-do list so stay tuned for another walk of West Street.

Moving Houses All Over Downtown Raleigh. A List.

Pictured above is the Pope House on South Wilmington Street. Currently a museum run by the city and registered historic landmark, the house belonged to Dr. Manassa Thomas Pope, a doctor and prominent businessman in Raleigh who would later run for mayor in 1919. It is also the only African-American house museum in the state of North Carolina.

100 years ago, this block of South Wilmington Street was covered by homes and the Pope house fit in nicely. Today, it’s floating in an ocean of surface parking with high-rise office towers nearby.

A collection of lots on the southern half of the block is currently going through a rezoning. (Z-1-22, pdf link) The request is to increase the height allowed from the current seven stories to a new limit of 20.

Construction in the area is taking its toll on the Pope House.

During a meeting with the Raleigh Historic Development Commission in March 2022, it was reported that construction from nearby Charter Square probably contributed to some structural damage to the house. To help with this rezoning case, it was asked if other construction techniques could be used that would not damage the historic structure.

The rezoning has not reached the city council for ultimate approval yet but it may be time to consider a serious move and uplift to the Pope House Museum.

A case NOT to move houses

I recognize that buildings and structures that remain on their original locations is a far-superior representation of the time that they once served. I can’t imagine what the 500 block of South Wilmington Street could have looked like with a variety of single-family homes. The Raleigh of the 1920s is practically another reality compared to today and at least for me, during my visit of the Pope House a few years ago, you could get a sense of it’s prominent location.

Dr. Pope’s house was close to East Hargett Street, or Black Main Street, which he and his family frequented. He also graduated from nearby Shaw University. You can kind of “travel back in time” and get a sense of the connectedness that his family had in the area.

If the house was moved a few blocks to the east, for example, placed between new construction homes of the 2020s, that history and sense of place, even if you have to really imagine it, is pretty much lost.

There are also practical issues such as major damage during a move, the cost of moving a house, and securing a new location. Think of the logistical challenges of moving a historic home through the streets of downtown Raleigh.

A case FOR moving houses

It just seems so simple. Move a house away from a site and you save it from demolition. We’ve done this before and it happens all over the country.

The house that once was a home may be reused as an office or even hotel. There is of course the risk and the cost but if a house is moved, it may stand for a hundred more years, continuing to tell its story.

Demolishing a house, or any structure, can also be seen as disrespecting the value that it currently brings. The materials and work that went into the house just vanish and end up in a landfill, most of the time anyway. To move a house, it saves that value and transfers it to another location. There’s a sense of sustainability here.

The List

When it comes to the Pope House, there are no plans to move it as of this writing. At the same time though, I did want to create a list of notable house moves around downtown Raleigh to kind of show that it’s not a far-fetched idea. If there is anything that I may have missed, let me know and we’ll get it added.

Guest House Raleigh

The boutique hotel, Guest House Raleigh, was originally located at 114 East Lenoir Street. On a cold Sunday in February 2017, along with its neighbor at 112 East Lenoir, the houses were moved to their current locations on Bloodworth Street.

For more, I’ll pass you over to an article in Walter Magazine as well as some great photos on the hotel’s Instagram page, the best being the one embedded below.

Merrimon-Wynne House

In 2008, the Merrimon-Wynne house was moved from it’s location on North Wilmington Street to its current location on Blount Street. It was only a two block move but the house has some considerable size and is one of the largest house moves to take place in Raleigh. It used to sit about where the Elan Apartments are today.

Seaboard Coast Line Railroad Building

Probably the largest move to take place in downtown was that of the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad building shown above. The building was used as offices for the railroad for a long time and sat on the 300 block of Halifax street. Note, this street doesn’t exist anymore as the state government complex built over it all.

They did move the office structure to the west onto Salisbury Street sometime in the 1970s to where it sits today. More on that, with older photos, in this post on Goodnight, Raleigh.

Andrew Johnson Birthplace 

North of downtown is Mordecai Historic Park which contains a house that is the birthplace of President Andrew Johnson, born in 1808. It’s original location was somewhere on the 100 Block of Fayetteville Street and has been moved three times.

In 1975, it found it’s way to Mordecai Park where it still stands today. More on that story here.

Levin-Tarlton House

I actually have a post on this move. This house was moved off of 208 North Harrington Street before The Metropolitan apartments were built. The house currently sits at 414 New Bern Avenue. There is some fun video from Instagram in the post so do check it out.

Quick Mentions

  • The Lincoln apartments on East Hargett Street was built on a block that only contained single-family homes. I talked to the developer of that project once and he told me that many of the homes there were actually moved instead of torn down. They sit in various spots south and east of that building.
  • Several of the elegant mansions on Blount Street were actually moved from a spot nearby to their current location including the Capehart House and Lewis-Smith House.
  • The Hume House and the Tucker House on Person Street are also not on their original locations.

Pic of the Week

The first concrete walls of the The Acorn apartments are standing up straight along Person Street. The apartment phase of the project is underway with plans for a hotel facing Blount Street to come later. I was walking down Cabarrus Street the other day and found this view to be lovely with the crane swinging back and forth and the skyline in the background.

Pic of the Week

This week, I wanted to throw up a picture of the building at 320 Hillsborough Street, currently the Holiday Inn. Site plans have been filed for a new hotel and apartment building that would lead to this building’s demolition.

A new owner has purchased the property here and the parking lot next door in order to build a 20-story building that will include about 180 hotel rooms and 350 apartments. A parking deck and ground-floor retail space is also shown in the site plans.

The “hair curler” was a unique building and it’s unfortunate that a renovation couldn’t work out. No renderings of the new buildings are out, yet, but I welcome completely upgraded sidewalks and the additional street-level activation that the new development will bring.