The paper has come down from behind the windows and it looks like Sitti will be opening soon. The authentic Lebanese restaurant, located on the corner of Hargett and Wilmington St., will open on November 24th, according to their website. I love the huge windows and how transparent it is from the outside. The place feels very inviting and I’m eager to give it a try.
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It will be a great addition, but I hope that someone will occupy the Riviera spot, soon. There is massive potential, if a nice little strip of retail and entertainment venues gets developed along Wilmington Str. It could be similar to Glenwood Ave (the Glenwood South section) and hopefully help connect the CBD with City Market/Moore Square better. I am looking forward to The Edison adding to the fabric of that area. With a nice collection of stores, and the residential/hotel portion, it can bring along Wilmington Str the kind of business that restaurants need to survive.
Why not put windows on the side of this building to open up the street atmosphere (that is NOT a big expense, but again, look who we are dealing with, developers with no vision)? Sorry, this is still an ugly building. I will be very surprised if this business survives (interior work is nothing to applaud).
Why is it every Raleigh blog has to be filled with negativity? Jeez….
I’m going to have to step in and disagree with you here, Jerry because the ‘lack of vision’ phrase is being thrown around way too much recently and it is completely false.
It is not a lack of vision when an owner decides to spend money on a building and aim for a LEED platinum rating, the highest certification, for their building. Empire did a great job with the Heilig-Levine building by restoring it in a sustainable way. There are only three buildings in the state with such a rating and we have one here in Raleigh (evidence). That is something to be proud of.
Ripping out the side of the building for windows is a terrible idea. Not only are you weakening the structural integrity of the building but you are also ripping off the old furniture sign on the side, which keeping it was a very nice touch. While I am no developer, I cannot imagine this kind of task being ‘NOT a big expense’, but if I am wrong, please enlighten us all with details as to how you came to this conclusion.
Whether the building is ugly or not is entirely ones opinion and everyone is entitled to it. But rather then labeling this 1870’s building ugly, could you not recognize its style for being from another era of Raleigh and appreciate the history behind it?
Next time you comment on this blog, or any blog on the internet, please re-read what you are saying first and ask yourself “Am I contributing anything useful to the conversation here?”. If you believe a project has no vision, please name examples of ones that do. If you question why developers do what they do, please share your credentials on the many projects you have worked on to be able to properly criticize the ones in downtown Raleigh that are doing great work. If not, then you should just keep your mouth shut.
You have your opinions and I respect them. But! Who cares about a furniture sign when you can create sidewalk atmosphere (I know for a fact, structural integrity will NOT be compromised if done right, you add steel I beams and a center column).
I am a businessman and have been living and entertaining in Raleigh for YEARS – Raleigh best city in the state (and a downtown proponent), but I am tried of the small, boring projects. I went downtown when nothing was down there, now I am just bored and don’t make the effort.
Comments on the blog: wow, are you saying we must put a positive spin on all projects or say nothing at all? How are we to judge quality vs crap in the future (by just saying everything going on downtown is positive and has vision?). Wrong
Positive: Potential! A downtown arena (Needs: a library, more museums, more entertainment for kids, a theatre, etc. -nothing to be found anywhere)
Negative: The Dawson, The Hue, Marriott, convention center design, The L-Building (this is laughable).
I will be the first to criticize every attempt to save old buildings, regardless of how uninteresting and lame they may be, provided they do not have some historic significance. In this case I will have to make an exception. As Leo pointed out, this is a worthy preservation effort, not a new building. The developer did achieve LEED certification, which may not mean much to most people, but it is nevertheless a good recognition. New developments like The Edison and Clarence Lightner Public Safety Center will also go for LEED certification, showing the significance of such recognition and the long-term implications on savings.
I don’t want to see every old building meet the wrecking ball, although there are many older structures I would not mind losing, if developers with a great vision and deep pockets come forth with good replacements. The Heilig-Levine building deserves a life extension, IMHO.
Jerry, I posted my reply shortly after your last email, so let me respond to that. Your disappointment is shared by many of us, I can assure you. Underutilizing land has been the norm for so many years in DT Raleigh, and I am afraid this will remain the case for many years to come. The Edison is probably the best redevelopment effort, to this day, and I surely hope it becomes successful right away.
There are a few people with vision, but they lack the funding sources to make these visions real. The Hillsborough and Lafayette are only two of the examples that come to mind right away. The Dawson was envisioned as a 15-story mixed-use building, but the market conditions simply didn’t allow it to happen.
The Hue is definitely a disappointment in terms of height and architecture, at least to me. I was hoping for something at least 25 stories tall, so you can imagine how disappointed I was when I heard that the final height was going to be 7 floors. What a shame!!! The Marriott Hotel is yet-another waste of space. Prime real estate for a hotel better suited for the airport :( What a joke!!! The city should have never used that spot for such a small project. Charter Square is another disappointment, if we look at the height only. Four developers got together and all they can do is a 20-story and a 14-story. At least they are delivering on their promise.
Anyway, I just want to make myself clear and not let you think that my disagreement with you is a general one. It is only specific to some historic buildings that could/should be saved, in my opinion.
Some people are hard to please…
Certainly everyone is entitled to their own opinion, however dopey it might be. The Heilig Levine Building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the North Carolina Register of Historic Places, listed in the Moore Square Historic District, AND is a Raleigh Local Historic Landmark. It is one of the oldest commercial buildings that we have left in downtown that wasn’t bulldozed in the name of “progress” – whether or not you think it is “ugly” is irrelevant.
First, you don’t go tearing a building like that down. We have nine million and one parking lots downtown – once you fill ALL of them up with the high density all “you types” whine about, then come talk to me. Until then, STFU.
Secondly, because of it’s historic significance, you can’t just go and do whatever the hell you feel like doing to it – to create “sidewalk atmosphere” – or whatever crap you think is a good idea. There are strict guidelines that must be followed as part of the rehab process – some of them are ridiculous, but all of them are intended to maintain the historic integrity of the building. This means you can’t go punching holes that never existed because you think your ideas are the be-all-end-all, and yes, the furniture sign is a historic component to the building that can’t go anywhere either.
I almost had to chuckle when I read, “look who we are dealing with, developers with no vision”. You’ve got to be kidding me. Anyone who doesn’t recognize what Empire/Hatem has done for downtown seriously needs their head examined. When I moved to Raleigh in 2001, downtown was a joke – a total ghost town. About that time, Empire started buying up old buildings that most people wouldn’t have looked twice at…and here we are today. Greg invested in downtown when not a whole lot of other people would have considered it – he saw all the potential – and his energy and advocacy was contagious. And look where we are today. We have restaurants, and bars, and coffee shops, and active retail, and churches, and children’s museums, and loads of new businesses, and music venues, and hair salons, and art galleries, and think tanks – what more do you want?!?! Greg isn’t called “Mr. Downtown” for nothing – he’s earned the moniker and he deserves it. That doesn’t mean that every single one their projects needs to ring your bell – and that doesn’t mean that downtown as a whole doesn’t have a ways to go – but at least show a shred of common sense.
It’s really a wonderful space and the restaurant is a great addition to downtown. Don’t like it? Then just stay up in North Raleigh and keep giving Cheesecake Factory and PF Changes all your business – that is, if you can manage the energy to get up off your couch. Or even better, move to Charlotte where they do it real “classy-like”.
Oakie – Thank you for so eloquently stating (better than I could have) what I’ve been wanting to towards some of the commenters on this post and others.
It’s easy to be an armchair quarterback with regards to development, especially downtown. It’s quite another to put your neck on the line by taking out loans and opening businesses in a ‘dead’ area. All of the trolls who repeat the ‘they have no vision’ mantra must have a serious lack of memory, and not remember what downtown was just a few years ago. We have progressed by orders of magnitude and I am very proud of what the center of Raleigh evolved in to.
My older sister moved away from Raleigh about 8-9 years ago. When I took her on a tour of downtown while visiting, almost all of it was unrecognizable to her. She couldn’t believe this was the same city she spent so much time in. Growing up in Asheville, I witnessed another downtown revitalization. Impressive as it was, it doesn’t compare to Raleigh. We have really come a long way.
Preserve the character of this town while almost single handedly fueling the resurgence? It’s the definition of ‘Local Hero’ in my book.
We wouldn’t be anywhere close to where we’re at had it not been for the vision of Greg Hatem and Empire.
Well said Oakie!
How about posting something related to the restaurant?
Phil, if you’d like more info, read this review
[…] city market and I was like, HA, you are sadly wrong my friend and about to be pleasantly surprised. Sitti, a fairly swank looking lebonese joint just opened up on the northeast corner of wilmington and hargett. For those of you directionally declined, it is […]
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