Council considers turning site into parking area ::

The site, at 301 Hillsborough St., would be leased to Campbell University’s law school for student and faculty parking, Mayor Charles Meeker said.

via Council considers turning site into parking area ::

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  1. Another ugly surface lot. I have lost count how many surface lots are in downtown Raleigh. Start another RFP/RFQ process for the lot and other lots (a national search for real developers who will figure out a way to break ground on a project – there are projects moving forward in other urban markets!). No matter what the economic landscape, start promoting these ugly lots, get feelers out there today, not 2 years from now. What is the holdup on Sites 2,4,5 and 6 (or whatever lots are left that the city wants to develop on the South side?

  2. I totally agree with Matt. Making a commitment to provide Campbell School of Law with parking, even short term, would be a big mistake, IMO. The city should do EXACTLY what Matt suggested: Release an RFP right now and set the standards very high. It will take several years before we see anything materialize if we do not act right away. At least, we can keep the RFP open until we finally find a developer who can actually deliver his vision.

    Let me be fair to the Reynoldses… They had a great vision, when nobody else even considered Hillsborough Street for (re)development. They meant well and kudos to them for trying so hard, but in this economy it would be tough to pursue this project any further. Only seasoned developers, with deep pockets, can actually deliver. Even Donald Trump is hard pressed as money becomes harder to loan/borrow.

    As for sites 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, I can only see Site 4 going through the RFP process in the next 2-3 years. Too early to predict, I am afraid, but I sure as Hell don’t want to see anything small going there. Lafayette was a nice proposal, but we should not settle for less.

  3. I agree that this needs to be something other than surface parking, but getting a major national developer to build on the site would be a mistake. If you notice all the local developers are creating iconic buildings that are unique to Raleigh whereas the regional and national developers throw up cookie cutter junk. Examples of this junk are Crosland projects The Oberlin and The Tucker as well as the Tramell Crow embarrassment called Hue. The Reynolds, Greg Hatem and Charter Square Developers are all local players with the best interest of Raleigh in mind. The national developers are just looking to make quick money without much expense using plans off the shelf from existing projects in Atlanta, Charlotte and Nashville.

  4. The problem the local developers have is lack of deep pockets, but I agree with what you say. I truly wish that local developers could jump into these opportunities, but all the names you mentioned failed to deliver, although extensions were offered several times. Charter Square, with 3-4 developers combining their might has joined the list of “we’ll believe when we see it” projects :(

    This is a general comment: I wonder how many banks actually have enough money to loan to developers. Of course, the fact that buyers also have to secure loans plays a very important role, but there must be at least a handful of banks that still lend money. It is my understanding that First Citizens Bank is doing well, but I don’t know if they are involved in financing major projects. They would be ideal for all the projects we mentioned here. I know that BofA is involved in financing part of The Edison and I surely hope that Wells Fargo will also recognize the many opportunities Raleigh offers. Time will tell…

  5. Sorry for turning this into a monologue, but I think it is useful for all to know. Last night I was talking to an acquaintance of mine, who owns a development/property management company. Thinking about this topic, I decided to ask him about lending. In particular, I wanted to know which banks actually lend money for large projects. He said that NONE of the banks that operate here – or anywhere in this state – are willing, or even have the money, to finance skyscrapers and other large projects. He mentioned that Wells Fargo is probably a good bet, but they focus a lot on the West. Wachovia was a good option, too. He wasn’t enthusiastic when I mentioned BofA and he eliminated First Citizens Bank from the list of possibilities.

    Overall, we need to be prepared for a long period of nothing major actually happening, at least in the high-rise department. This would put many of our projects to risk, but the impact will be much worse in cities that recently saw a high-rise boom. It will take them forever to get more decent-sized projects. I am an optimist, but at the same time I wish to remain down to Earth…

  6. Get some rent off the property while you figure out a RFP process. Why would we have another RFP when no one can get the cash from a Bank to start another vacant building!

  7. Councilman Crowder suggested that the 301 Hillsborough property could be used for the Clarence Lightner Public Safety Center, thus helping the city to save money on leases during the construction phase. I think that is a good idea, although the question still remains: When will the city be able to get the CLPSC off the ground?

    Of course, the RFP process will not take a few months. It should be longer than the usual, as we’ll have to look for solid proposals. It makes sense to use the property for something useful, as long as we are not tying ourselves to long-term leases. You are right, though, if we can generate some income, we might as well rent the lot.

  8. I thought that the CLPSC was already pretty much a done deal. It’s already been budgeted for and just needs to be built for the most part.

  9. DPK, the CLPSC is definitely a vision that the city wants to pursue, and I am confident that it will happen, but nothing is written in stone, both in terms of location and design… The current vision certainly has received the green light, but as the economy worsens, the city officials may need to consider more alternatives in order to save money. I am not suggesting it is highly probable, though…

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