Wilmington Street Renovations Continue

Looks like Wilmington Street is getting some work done on her. The space at the corner of Wilmington Street and Martin Street is being renovated and according to a sign, shown above, will be finished in the Fall of 2011. The building, shown below, was listed in my Top 10 Empty Spaces To Fill Around Downtown, posted over two years ago.

I updated that list a year later and 237 Wilmington was still empty. This gives me an idea for a 2010 refresh by the way. Anyway, this is a good sign for a major hole in the slice of swiss cheese that is downtown Raleigh retail/restaurant spaces.

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    None right now. Must be a new project.


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  1. Isn’t this going to be a new restaurant owned by Ashley Christiansen of Pooles? That’s what I heard a while back.

  2. I stopped by several weeks ago and asked the guys doing some work what it was going to be. They said that it was going to be a restaurant upstairs and bar/club downstairs. The new roof is on now. From a look at the tax records it appears to be the same folks that own Busy Bee. But as far as if it’s them opening a place or Ashley – I have no idea. Excited that another hole is being filled in, though.

  3. I should clarify my comment above and stick to the facts. The only connection to Busy Bee is that this building at 237 Wilmington is owned by the same person/entity that owns the building at 225 S Wilmington (Busy Bee’s building).

  4. I am sorry, but this spot deserves better. For those who remember, there was a proposal for a 20-25 story residential building, with retail on the ground floor. The owner purchased – or he wanted to purchase – the air rights, but as it turned out he lacked the experience to turn this wonderful location into something nice. THAT would have been a good use for that corner, in my opinion. It seems like everything that goes there has no future, so I wonder if the latest renovation will accomplish anything.

  5. While I agree with Ernest that a mid-rise residential building with street level retail would be a nice addition to downtown, I don’t see any such venture taking place any time soon. There are enough condo buildings struggling to fill vacancies, and I don’t see how such a project could even get beyond the planning stages at this point.

    Ashley Christensen is an incredibly gifted and talented entrepreneur, and I can’t think of anyone else that is better suited to be a tenant in the space. Looking forward to the new development.

  6. I love the pic of the old Piggly Wiggly. I never thought locally owned/operated would be a big deal back then. Walking by this place a lot I always wondered what it was in the past. Thanks for sharing.

  7. David Meeker is a primary investor so you aren’t too far off with saying it will be owned by the Busy Bee.

  8. Considering they can barely sell any condos downtown (Hue is now rentals & the West is having an auction to sell condos), adding any residential buildings doesn’t make any sense if downtown isn’t a destination to be. Who knows… I’m not being negative here, but it could be another come and go place that will make way for a residential building in the future after the economy gets better, whenever that is.

  9. I agree with Ernest. Prime piece of property. This is an ugly building that needs to be TORN DOWN.

    Sorry, we have too many backwards thinking developers. Empire wants another three years, are you kidding (bring in a real developer). Look at that pathetic Blount Street Project (brought in the wrong developer). Where are the high end hotels? What happened to Sir Walter Raleigh Hotel?
    Are they going to remodel that sad looking exterior of the Sheraton? Wow, Raleigh needs to jump all over these owners and developers, enough time wasted. It’s been 20 years, ONE tall building has gone up (RBC), are you kidding? We are the Capital City/

    This property needs a REAL developer. This should be a location for 1st and 2nd floor retail with 35 stories above.
    Come on Raleigh, this is getting old (these are not historical landmarks, they are out dated, ugly structures.

    When are they starting The Hudson?

    And when will be see a LARGE development that will house start-up companies (an incubator type complex with retail, outdoor seating, shops, restaurants, etc.) and mature companies that want to be downtown (cutting edge, dense, with some very tall buildings type oc complex).
    Put this complex in that ugly warehouse area (remove all those old warehouses and build UP)

  10. I also agree with Ernest. This location needs a class “A” developer from another state who will build a 35-40 story building with retail/entertainment at ground level. A center piece facility.

  11. @Sidiot-That is a tired, easy and uneducated argument.

    Firstly, the Hudson is located at 319 Fayetteville Street. You should check it out. Secondly, a very small number of developers are building skyscrapers types of buildings right now unless it is built to suit (like the Quintiles space off I-40). Owners and developers are making the most of what they have based on the demand for space. I highly doubt that the owner of this property on Wilmington Street would turn down the opportunity to build a 35 story building on it if he had a tenant. There is a capable and proven developer who is waiting across the street to sign tenants so he can build Edison. In the meantime he is keeping the existing remaining buildings/tenants (like Cooper’s and Reliable Loans) and and using the raw land for parking.

    Leo did a great post last year on how many huge parking lots exist downtown that pave the way for tall developments, which highlights the opportunities that are already there for vertical development and makes that point that tearing down more buildings isn’t necessary at this point for downtown Raleigh to grow up, literally. There simply isn’t legitimate demand for it now.

    It’s easy to say that everything should be bulldozed and built on top of, but the repurposing of older buildings is what gives cities character. Are you honestly saying that it would be better to tear down this building, let it sit as an empty lot until a magical tenant comes along that can support building a 35+ story building for rather than reactive it with a new restaurant? Give me a break.

  12. Notice the Comic Convention pin ups? That’s awesome! I didn’t know they had so much advertising up. I’m going, and anyone else who really loves comics should be there!

  13. @Sid: You are so correct about a lot of things. We don’t have yet the can-do mentality, and it shows. We are afraid to get creative and think big. Many people fear that we are going to destroy our past to accomplish our goals, but this is not necessary. We can preserve everything nice we inherited from the past and write our own history.

    @Scoop: I would hate to see this building being torn down, something that isn’t really advocated, but I would also hate to see something that will sit there for another 15 years, taking up a spot that is indeed a prime location. Sorry, but I can’t stand looking at the parking deck every time I walk along Wilmington Street.

    Regarding the possibility of something happening there, your guess is as good as mine… Unless the economy takes a turn for the better, nothing will go there, at least in terms of residential condos. However, a nice mixed-use tower with office and hotel space could easily end up there. It all depends on whether we can attract a few larger companies to downtown. So far, we are debating about keeping RedHat, let alone bring their rumored expansion, which will require about 300,000sf of office space. The sky is the limit, but not until the economy improves, probably in the next 4-5 years.

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