Glenwood South Ripe For Hotels

Corner of Jones and West Street

When you talk about nightlife in downtown, the conversation must include the five or so blocks of Glenwood Avenue that make up Glenwood South. The mistress of downtown really gets lively on the weekends and if anyone has walked down her sidewalks on a nice Saturday night, then you know what I mean by lively. To me, there is a lot of energy in the air when the streets are crowded with cars and people are walking around, enjoying themselves in this entertainment district. Fayetteville Street is real nice and I have fun in that area but the crowds and traffic really do hover around Glenwood; you can’t deny it! With all this traffic, car and foot, it is good that hotel developments are in the works. The convention center helps drive this as I’ve seen many times convention goers riding the R-Line through Glenwood South. A hotel that is right in the middle of so much activity would be very appealing to those visiting the city.

Recently, there have been reports that two hotels are to be built in Glenwood South but no real work has begun yet. We await the start of the 10-story Powerhouse Plaza located on Jones and West Streets. Right now, the lot has been cleared and a sign has been placed out front letting people know what the future will be. The rendering looks promising and plans for ground floor retail are included. This would be a great addition to an already busy pedestrian intersection at Jones and West.

A Hampton Inn hotel is said to be in the works at the corner of Glenwood and Johnson Street. The initial reaction of the online peanut gallery has not been favorable to ‘just a Hampton Inn’. I believe we should wait and see what is proposed rather then speculate off very little information. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to the rest of the houses on the 600 block of Glenwood as the area becomes more popular and more traffic moves down it over the years.

Source – News & Observer, Glenwood South Hotel Proposed

Corner of Glenwood and Johnson Street

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  1. The only thing that should be built in downtown Raleigh is an eleventy billion story skyscraper!!!!11!!!one!!!

  2. Leo, I agree with you. Glenwood South is, and in my opinion will remain for a long time, the primary entertainment district. Sure, there are more venues scattered in downtown, but a Glenwood South location guarantees more pedestrian traffic and therefore more business.

    The hospitality sector needs major improvements in downtown and I do not see a better place than Glenwood South. Sure, the envisioned Winston Tower will be great, adding at least 200 more hotel rooms, but it is nowhere near the stage of planning that both the Hampton Inn and the Powerhouse Plaza are. More hotel space is needed and I can envision something nice next to the West At North once The Edison is completed :) I doubt that the owner of that lot will close his eyes to the massive potential of Glenwood South. Not after delivering the West…

    Also, the 630 North is speculated to be converted from offices-condos to offices-hotel rooms, which is probably one of the reasons it has been stalled for such a long time. It would be great to extend the mixed-use building towards the Western section of Glenwood South. Of course, we can speculate all day, but the two projects mentioned in this report are certainly a great start for adding hospitality into the mix.

  3. I think this is great. I work in Glenwood South ( 510 Glenwood building ) and while I admit the area lacks a lot of office space, it’s a nice working environment.

    One of the biggest challenges is hotels. Its almost embarrassing to put people at the Clarion ( no offense ). The Marriott/Sheraton are not walking distance, but it seems foolish to rent a car for a 2 mile commute. The R-line helps but some walking options would be nice as well.

    This is welcome. Hampton Inns are affordable and nice. Unless the business are investment banks that require 4-star hotels, this is ideal for most businesses who actually manage travel expenses closely.

  4. Great! A development team from Greenville, NC and SC building a Hampton Inn (very few people WANT to stay at a Hampton Inn – the name does not invoke quality) in OUR Downtown Raleigh. This must be another small wanna-be group that will cut corners, the result, an EYESORE. Is the DRA promoting downtown Raleigh? Are they trying to form corporate partnerships with companies across the nation and bring people/jobs to downtown Raleigh or just negotiating with Mom and Pop’s for small scale high rises. Who is our downtown promoter? One hise has gone up in 20 years (RBC), that is pathetic. Most of us will be dead before we can enjoy a “True” downtown experience.

  5. I don’t understand those who diss on Glenwood all the time. Sure, I love the bars on Hargett/Wilmington and occasionally pop into the Warehouse district, but Glenwood offers a variety of venues. The online peanut gallery shouldn’t shun w/o giving it a try. Especially since that area is growing, looks good to outside visitors and provides revenue for the city.

    As for the Hampton, the name does not invoke a positive feeling, yes, but Todd has a point about business travelers and expenses. Maybe there is a middle ground somewhere?

  6. High rise buildings make for a “true” downtown experience? If you ask me, tall skyscrapers do nothing more than make for cool skyline shots from outside of the city. I’d rather have a Raleigh full of 2-4 story buildings with street-level activity at each address. But good looking skylines are fun to drive past if that is what you are after.

  7. Lewie, why focusing on the apples and oranges comparison? How about great looking skyscrapers that offer excellent pedestrian experience? Don’t get me wrong, your argument is valid, but over my several years in urban forums I find it weird how people still tend to make such comparisons. In fact, there are many low-rises that do very little for our downtown, but they do add to the mix.

    Skysrapers address many issues, space being one of them. When developers pay big bucks for a small parcel, they have to get their money back. If we do not build high-rises, the value of the land is going to catapult, to the point that even those cute low-rises – some of them historic – will disappear. The land owners will grub the money and run.

    Please forgive me about what seems to be a pointless reply, but saying that skyscrapers are there only for making a skyline look cool is most definitely a misconception. Instead, we need to address the ground level experience in all developments, high-rises AND low-rises. Skylines tell a lot about a city’s character and project an image. The more powerful, the better for luring major companies to the core of the city, instead of letting them contribute to more and more sprawl. The more employees – and residents – we have near and inside the center, the easier it will be to address transportation issues, bring more venues (i.e. a sports arena) and make retail viable. Low-rise developments may give you the warm fuzzy feeling, but we only have a square mile to work with, and the state government already has done enough damage to the existing fabric. Skyscrapers are needed, but they also must provide a good pedestrian experience.

    One final thing that I discovered recently: Back in the mid-60’s IBM looked into moving to DT Raleigh. They had employees scattered all over and wanted to consolidate. The rest is history, but what do you think would have happened if we had 1-2 skyscrapers back then to fulfill IBM’s needs. I am not saying that IBM is a company focusing on downtown, but they could have stopped some of the flight to the burbs and attract more destinations and businesses to the center. Low-rises could not fill their needs then, even though times have changed now :(

  8. You make good points, Ernest, but I have not met many skyscrapers that actually provide a good pedestrian experience. The three tallest towers we currently have have created dead blocks. At least the new RBC tower has residents living in it, but how is that experience on the ground floor? They have a vacuous lobby with no real purpose. The new Progress Building does have better retail on the ground floor, but it is not very appealing as everyone shares the same style front like a modern strip mall. The diverse experience of the buildings on Fayetteville or Wilmington provide a much better experience.

    I do not think we need to worry about there not being enough space to expand at a four to six story height. We are not restricted to just the original laid out downtown, which still has a lot of empty buildings and empty lots (especially just a couple blocks east of Moore Square). There is a lot of room to grow in the warehouse district, the area between downtown and Glenwood, and south of downtown alone could nearly double our current use.

    I also do not know if IBM could have used towers downtown, because of the production capacity that was needed for the PCs and laptops being manufactured. They could have put one office building downtown and another facility further out, but that would have defeated their central location purposes. (Even though they ended up having a couple satellite locations anyway)

  9. Ken, I agree with you, if we use Raleigh’s tallest buildings as examples… Of course, the same can be applied even for the smaller buildings, where we see 1-2 doors at most and a few people walking in and out. I frequent Fayetteville Street and I am always puzzled at this. I love the feel smaller buildings create – when done right – and we can learn a lot from several successful renovations, even in our downtown, but there should be areas where such low-rises would flourish. Although it is not yet built, The Edison may be a good example of high-rise development with good pedestrian experience, based on the renderings we’ve seen so far. Two Progress Plaza has a few strong elements, but it is too wide to not overwhelm the pedestrian.

    Here is a sad thing: Most of us could agree that the West side of the 200-block of Fayetteville Street is a gem for our city. I am sure you have also seen the rear side of these buildings, along Salisbury Street. That is one pathetic experience. We treat our other major downtown streets like alleys :( Thankfully, we have structures like the Odd Fellows Bldg to point as good examples, but that is not enough.

    BTW, if I understood correctly, IBM was interested in DT Raleigh as a central location, with a satellite campus in RTP for its lab and manufacturing plants. I may be wrong about this, so please don’t quote me just yet: IBM actually occupied space at the 333 Fayetteville building, which in 1965 was known as the BB&T Building. In 1966, when their RTP campus was finished they moved there. It is tough to say whether their downtown presence could extend far, but I think you are correct, towers might not have met their short-term goals. However, if DT Raleigh had strong leadership back then, and the ability to offer incentives, things could have turned out differently. Let RTP keep the manufacturing and research arms of IBM and bring the executives and office personnel to downtown.

    Of course, we’ll never know, but one thing is certain: if a corporation with 2000 employees was to move to DT Raleigh, there would be no space for them right now. Unless The Edison gets built right away, there isn’t contiguous space for a larger entity to move in within a short amount of time.

    Sorry for diverting from the original topic, but I am one of those people who want to see a few true skyscrapers in our skyline. I know there are high-rise developments that can be done right and offer a great pedestrian experience. I wish to see developers and city leaders push to that direction. Kill two birds with one stone ;)

  10. I like this project. Looks a lot like the Progress Energy building, so I’m not really quick to say it’s unique. I myself love the mix of all kinds of building materials, wood, shiny stainless steel, glass, granite, marble and stone.

    I’m not saying this is in the project, but it would be nice if it was.

  11. What is nice about this area is the small scale. When they build that condo building that blocked out the sun and was totally out of scale it really screwed up the nice and low scale of the buildings and now someone wants a hotel there?

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