The State of the Warehouse District

By day, the warehouse district of Downtown Raleigh is quiet and sleepy. By night, it wakes up and comes to life, exploding on the weekends. This nightlife hotspot has seen some problems in the past, but with a convention center only a few steps away, why can’t it enjoy some traffic just as Fayetteville St. will be getting? Here is some recent updates if you have not been down there recently.

  • Penrod’s Antique Warehouse has opened up next to White Collar Crime and makes use of the entire 10,000 sq. ft. warehouse. They have very old furniture and all kinds of random plates, paintings, silverware, etc. They are open seven days a week.

  • Jibarra is re-locating to The Depot but work there has not yet started. The place is still filled with the old bars from the trio of clubs that left back in November of 2007. Jibarra seems confident on opening up this fall.
  • Renovation of a warehouse for the Contemporary Art Museum seems to be continuing. A recent ‘Pic of the Week’ entry had some good discussion from readers.
  • Discussion on the Multi Modal Transit Center is picking up and the city wants your ideas. Read their ‘Call For Ideas’ on the Transit Center and submit them by July 24th. I have not read the entire document yet but may post my thoughts later this week.

The warehouse district will need more shops and the museum to open for activity to rise during the day. The transportation center, I think, will define the warehouse district in the near future and when (if) built, this area will explode during the day.

Plenty of parking at The Depot

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  1. This area oozes potential. At the same time I really hope that any developments in this part of downtown stick with the warehouse and transportation (like the depot) themes of design.

  2. Fortunately the Warehouse District does have some long-lived businesses thriving there, including Raleigh Institutions like Joe’s Place and Humble Pie. And it does include some notable retail like Stuff Consignment (best place to buy used clothes in Raleigh) and Shelton’s Furniture.

    I think increased population will certainly help it more. Hue and Bloomsbury will soon be added to the other condos and apartments in the area…add that to neighboring Boylan Heights and the Morgan/Hillsborough apartment complexes, and there’s certainly a good number of people living within walking distance. It just needs more businesses there that are worth walking to.

    Another notable aspect of the Warehouse District is that it is literally the closest thing the Triangle has to a “Gay & Lesbian District”…something that almost all Big Cities have. Granted, it’s not much–a bit over half-a-dozen businesses, plus the residential–but it’s been that way for decades now and certainly remains an important neighborhood for that community.

  3. Lisa, Buckhead continues to be an integral part of the Warehouse District nightlife. Other heavy hitters are Mosquito, Ess Lounge, and White Collar Crime to name a few. I was just focusing on the newer spots rather then current establishments. I’ll touch on them in a later post, don’t you worry.

  4. Don’t forget about us at Buckhead Saloon either! ;-)

    I know it may not be at the top of all lists… but there’s no denying how much business and life is infused in the area Wednesday – Saturday evenings… not to mention the block parties that bring traffic that way on Saturday afternoons from time to time, etc., etc.

    We just celebrated our first anniversary in the area last month, so I hope our staying power has made a little bit of a mark on this area and brought some people here that might not have ever checked out anything off of Glenwood South otherwise!

  5. This area can be a center piece for downtown Raleigh, if developed properly around the Transportation Center (which should be a Class “A” development and “iconic” – our own spaceneedle). This is an opportunity to excel, build a multi level entertainment and transportation center around a signature tower (minimum 50 stories: office, hotel, apartments). This center MUST be developed right, at all costs (no cutting corners). This will be the real “Front Porch” of Raleigh (especially when people get off that bus, train or light rail system). Their first reaction should be, WOW, this is Raleigh, very cool (not just look at another downtown Raleigh GREY Elephant with no foot traffic – like that ugly Marriott). Hey Raleigh wake up, spend a ton of money on this Center, you will only get ONE chance to do this right for a number of generations to enjoy (forgot: hire a architect and developer from NY, Chicago or Seattle, noone from the Carolina’s – they have no vision) .

  6. Thomas, I like your vision, but I am afraid some people will eat you alive just for suggesting a 50+ story tower :LOL: On a serious note, though, The Warehouse District was a great redevelopment effort and a good way to promote DT Raleigh’s nightlife option, from an era that many forumers like to claim that the city did nothing for our center. The successful revitalization – however partial – of this district led to Glenwood South and many of the things we are so proud of these days. I remember back in the 90’s, when The Warehouse District was beginning to attract night spots and LOTS of people, and I am so happy to see the revitalization spilling over to other areas.

    The biggest challenge was the pre-mature actions by TTA… Celebrating before they even get the final approval led to problems, such as relocating businesses so the existing buildings can be redeveloped. We could have had a more vibrant Warehouse District. Also, it is crucial that developers jump into this great opportunity to build residential and mixed-use buildings – I am very open in terms of height, but I most definitely support high density. Unfortunately, I do not foresee any major redevelopments in the nearest future. With the CAM residential mid-rise being canceled, I can only begin to imagine how hard it will be to sell Warehouse District as a residential destination. Still, there is great potential!!!

    Great work, Leo!!! Your presentation of Warehouse District was excellent.

  7. ^Well, the Hue will certainly add a lot of residential to the district. (And I suppose Bloomsbury counts as adjacent…but I digress.) Hopefully, if Hue does well, it’ll spur further residential.

    I just keep waiting for a smart developer to grab some of those empty warehouses and turn them into “urban brick warehouse lofts” like we see all over downtown Durham. Granted, they’re not as ornate as the Durham ones, but I think they would still be appreciated here.

  8. ^ Agreed. Warehouse lofts offer more “open” options – which I believe would appeal to buyers who have may have hesitated to purchase downtown previously because of space/sq. footage.

  9. It would have been a great move, but unfortunately, we have nothing that compares to either Durham or Winston-Salem. Our warehouses do not provide enough space to make such investment profitable enough. I guess, it would be ideal if a few interested individuals would form a partnership, go to a bank and get a loan for renovating and converting some of those warehouses. I am afraid that would not be easy, but once the profits factor is removed, the final cost will be far lower than if a developer converted those warehouses and sold them later. I wonder if this is feasible these days.

  10. As a downtown resident I have always been a big fan of the warehouse district. It is wonderful to have this great area with all these new businesses, but there is an underlying reason why many of them fail. Currently with all the development downtown (the Hue, city hall expansion, etc.), the parking in this area is almost nonexistent. The Hue is being built on the largest parking area within the district. Additionally the municipal parking garage (last of the free parking) will soon be a thing of the past when the new wing of the municipal building begins construction. So until there is enough population density in the area, the businesses in this district will continue to rely on patrons who need a place to park. This is obvious to anyone who has been in the district after dark on any weekend.

    On the bright side — it seems Raleigh is very good at building parking structures. I believe we have the most beautiful parking lots in the state. Maybe someone will see the need to place one near the action!

  11. Seriously, parking has never been as bad as people make it out to be. The Warehouse District has more than Glenwood South, if I recall.
    Yes there’s the municipal lot. Plus much more street parking than most of the other downtown districts, I believe. The Depot has its own lot. Wake County is building the new deck at the L building nearby, and their current deck at the corner of Martin and McDowell isn’t that far away.
    It’s not that bad.

  12. ^ That is SO true. I may have to circle around a few times, but I never have trouble finding a spot either near Shelton’s and walking a block or in any of the city lots just south of Buckhead Saloon.

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