Crash of the Resident Wave, Skyhouse Topping Out (5/10)

Skyhouse Raleigh under construction
This is part 5 of a 10 post series, rolled out all week, on residential projects in downtown Raleigh. Go here to see all the posts so far.

A project that probably doesn’t require an introduction, the 230-unit Skyhouse Raleigh tower is close to topping out. If you look very closely, you can see the construction starting to “crown up” at the top.

Similar to towers by the same name in other cities, I even took photos of Skyhouse Atlanta for the Raleigh Public Record, Skyhouse Raleigh will stand at 23 floors at the corner of Martin and Blount Streets.

That entire block is dubbed The Edison, a multi-building vision that will include residential and office projects.

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  1. So far, the only Edison component worthy of this [prime] location. I don’t see this as a skyline booster, but rather a nice “filler”. I wish we could get a few more buildings of similar size around downtown. Site 4 would have been ideal ;)

    By the way, Leo, thank you very much for creating this series for us. No matter how closely we follow the new construction, this series helps a lot to stay better informed.

  2. Agreed Ernest. Ironically enough this will be the 5th tallest building downtown, with no real skyline boosting impact (except when coming in from the south east).

  3. I have always heard that the Skyhouse projects are all the same design so construction is faster but this is not strictly the case. If you check out the skycam site ( you can view all projects currently under development and completed. The “Skyhouse” top built on Atlanta’s “100 Sixth St” project is very different from the one in Austin. Note rounded sides of “Skyhouse” at Austin vs. more stately appearance (IMMHO) at 100 Sixth St.

    The rendering provided by the N&O shows the rounded (Austin) design. Personally I’m really hoping Raleigh gets a “Skyhouse” like the one in Atlanta. Way better looking in my opinion. The project in Houston also has the better looking Skyhouse so I’m hopeful.

  4. Personally I’m over the whole skyscraper pipe dream. Raleigh isn’t a skyscraper city I’ve accepted that. Tall buildings don’t make a city feel like a city. Street life is what makes a city come alive. Think DC/Georgetown, none of the buildings there are very tall. But, when you’re in the heart of it all, you know you’re in a city. Better design is all I can hope for. And a lot more going on street level… A lot!

  5. ^Chaddddddddddd +1 +1 +1! Love the positivity. I’d be fine with more SkyHouse sized buildings- not a “skyscraper” by any measure, but more than enough to really make Raleigh feel like a CITY city.

  6. Initially, I wasn’t a fan of SkyHouse because of its receptiveness in other southeast cities. However, I appreciate the residential density that it brings. The downtown districts which were once very disjointed are now becoming more connected in a real way.

  7. I might get on your nerves for saying that, but giving up (even temporarily) on the skyline is a poor excuse for a city like Raleigh. Please know that I don’t say that in a confrontational way, and those of you who have been reading my posts (in multiple forums) for the last 10-12 years know that I used to be far more optimistic. I am an optimist by nature, but the last 6-7 years have brought too many disappointments to me.

    Having said that, I am 100% in agreement about urbanity, city feel and skylines. However, Raleigh doesn’t have the historic fabric of other cities that promoted urbanity within their central neighborhoods – as well as some of their suburbs. I am a huge fan of Georgetown and I love DC, but that fabric is out of question for Raleigh. To put it in clearer terms, too late for that.

    City feel is a term that can go very far and it is a bit unclear. City feel means different things to different people. In my opinion, it has to do with easy access to amenities, mixed uses, pedestrian and vehicular traffic, transportation, urbanity, etc.

    Skyline is important for different reasons. It provides a way of measuring economic progress and status for a city. Corporate entities that see the same old tired and uninspiring skyline are less likely to view Downtown Raleigh as a viable place to relocate corporate headquarters. Sure, we look good on the paper, but so do other cities in our state. When you see, however, business entities choosing Cary for major regional centers, then you know that there is something wrong – many things are actually wrong, but that is another story.

    A skyline that doesn’t progress sends a negative message to serious developers. Then we are left with crap like The Edison to take over valuable prime land. Developers have been shamelessly wasting prime real estate in the heart of the city. Those of you who believe that there is plenty of land to build skyscrapers in the future will be shocked 20 years from now when you will see how many of those sites are destined to become homes to 5-7 story buildings. If we accept The Edison Apartments, then we’ll accept more such projects.

    Anyway, a city needs to grow in all aspects. We are getting some of the urban elements in place and I am happy for it. I am optimistic about the future of smaller urban infills, and I would love to see some truly nice brownstones popping up, especially in areas like Glenwood South, East Downtown and the Warehouse District. On the other hand, I would hate to see prime real estate between Blount Str and Harrington Str being wasted on small projects.

    Sorry for the long post :(

  8. I think the ‘dense downtown without a skyline’ is more likely to be the fate of Durham, which I’m okay with. Durham has a large stock of historic structures, it has Duke’s picturesque campus. I would still like to see more midrises spring up there, but it’s an auxiliary downtown, clearly.

    Raleigh is a different story. It’s pretty tough arguing the merits of Raleigh vs Charlotte, Austin, Nashville, or other fast-growing southern cities when holding up a postcard of these respective cities… Raleigh looks like a bedroom community in comparison. That’s not great for our image.

    There are people here who want *a city*. There are people who’d much rather work downtown and have cultural amenities nearby than in an office park in RTP, where they’re pretty much stuck in the confines of their company’s campus. There are people who want a view from their apartment or office and those people don’t have options in the Triangle.

  9. The Edison apartments are not the problem. The problem, ultimately is RTP. Lenovo is building a new campus there. Could’ve been a tower downtown. Chatham Park will introduce further problems, spreading out the metro even more and adding another suburban office park to dump things in. Imagine if just a fraction of those 60,000 new residents and jobs were plonked downtown. It’d be transformative. But nothing like that is happening.

    The Triangle needs to work together to contain sprawl otherwise we get this sort of “Virginia Beachification” of the metro.

  10. I wonder if, ultimately, the Chatham Park development is going to be mistake for the developers given the renewed interest in moving closer to the city centers nationally. Does the next generation (after the millenials) really want to be 35 miles from a real urban core?
    It would seem to me that a smarter mega development that was more aligned with trends would happen between DT Raleigh and Garner in what is essentially an underutilized corridor?
    That said, I expect the Citrix campus to be a wake up call and and game changer locally. Just wait until these other companies start losing candidates to Citrix because of location.

  11. John, Chatham Park will not compete with Downtown Raleigh in any way. For one, Downtown Raleigh exists and it’s here already. There will definitely be companies to find Chatham Park attractive, but rest assured none of them would even consider a more urban area for its operations. This, I am confident about.

    On the other hand, I am not sure that the city leaders are fighting as hard as they should about bringing major business entities here. I don’t want to sound harsh or be unfair to them. Maybe the P/T status of our city council doesn’t allow for much action, but I can’t wait for the day when our city implements an effective strategy for making Downtown Raleigh a prime candidate for relocation of larger businesses; I think we are doing fine with the smaller ones.

  12. Millennials and future generations may want to work and live close to downtown if not in it, but the major developing firms in the Triangle are stuck in the 1950s. There is a disjoint between the interests of the private sector and the interests of the general population here.

    Consequently these development firms will contribute to brain-drain from the region as younger generations flee to the Austins, Denvers, and Portlands of the country that actually offer what they’re looking for in terms of urban amenities. There will always be 30-50 somethings with families that find the area appealing but their kids will continue to get bored and leave after they graduate. RTP was designed originally to try to curb that brain-drain, and it helped initially, but it’s now hurting.

    Chatham Park will totally compete with downtown Raleigh. Don’t fool yourselves. If the office space isn’t available downtown (Which it isn’t. We have the lowest vacancy rates in the COUNTRY, because there isn’t close to enough class-A office space there despite demand), they’ll be forced to look elsewhere, and CP is the cheapest thing on the menu.

  13. Yes, Citrix will be great for the DTR and especially the warehouse district as RedHat is doing. The Elan and Peace will be great for the NE section. The site north of Elan would be great for small grocery store but a church owns the land and submitted site plans. Maybe Harrington & West? Someone smart will put a small one under one of these apartment complexes and make $$.
    Charter Square will provide much needed office space and the city will vacate One Exchange Plaza and build a new complex near beltline due to parking & needed space. It should be near Raleigh Blvd & Westinghouse since that is where the new 911 center & operations center currently under construction. Maybe they can build at the old royal pontiac site? Move Hurricanes downtown & soccer complex near Dix? Plenty of land to go up near Saunders & old Bain plant also for City complex?

  14. The old Bain Water Treatment plant was sold by the city and is now owned by Empire Properties. This is one of the best, if not the best, surviving art deco buildings still existing in Raleigh. I’d imagine it will one day be converted to residential or office space.

    As for large available tracts on S. Saunders I remember the site just North of beltline (where Penmarc Dr. is located) being discussed as a possible location for new DHHS offices. There was an RFP submitted by the state during Perdue administration and this was one of the sites developers had recommended.

  15. @Stew, yes they sold just the building the rest of the facility is still in operation and owned by City. You never know. Area is ripe for redevelopment. I was in the plant twice wish I had taken my camera. Yes, it is awesome inside but asbestos.

  16. In the meantime, Cary is becoming more and more aggressive in getting exactly what we hoped to get since Red Hat and Citrix decided to relocate to downtown. The N&O has an article titled “Cary may land 1,200 jobs – again”. An IT company is considering Cary, along with other locations, but it is not clear whether Raleigh is one of them. Quite honestly, I doubt it. This is what our city leaders should be after.

  17. Is there anything we could actually do to try and persuade Raleigh’s leaders to be more aggressive in pulling companies from RTP and the suburbs?

    They’ve got to recognize at some point that the perception of Raleigh outside the state is a bedroom community full of office parks. A lot of people who would consider moving here are gonna opt for Charlotte, Richmond, Nashville in the hopes of finding a more urban, vibrant city in the region. Is there any way to kick them in the rear and get them to see that?

  18. Ernest, what makes you think Raleigh city leaders aren’t going after these companies? Maybe they just choose to be in the Cary rather than Raleigh. They can’t force them to come to Raleigh. Maybe being in Cary gives them the best of both, a suburban setting close to a large city.

  19. @unique1: My statement is a general statement, based on some one-to-one conversations I had in the past with certain city leaders. There were many cases when they had no idea about specific possibilities that existed. Indirectly, I was told that they do not focus much on that because they want to let the Chamber of Commerce and DRA to handle the promotion. All that, off the record of course.

    Raleigh has rarely been mentioned as an aggressive pursuer of relocations, as we clearly have seen in the past. Red Hat was probably an exception, but the state government got more involved than the city leaders. Citrix kind of went on their own, without much work needed on our part.

    As for the desire of the company, itself, to operate in a more suburban environment, it is a possibility, but it all boils down to the final cost and incentives. Raleigh just doesn’t seem to offer much of the latter. Attracting new technology jobs to downtown should be much easier now that Red Hat and Citrix paved the road.

    @Vatnos: I wish I could say “yes”, but I afraid there is nothing we can do to pursuade our leaders. First, they are holding P/T positions and there is little time in their hands to go after relocations and expansions. Second, they seem to be comfortable with Raleigh’s status. Third, they already have enough on their plate… Some of them are too busy ensuring that a building will not exceed 5 floors and 79ft in height along Hillsborough Str. Fourth, not all of them would agree with some of us about the importance of bringing larger entities to downtown. The small town feel appeals to most and thus far it seems to work fine.

    Raleigh will increase its chances to get corporate expansions and relocations when more than half of its city council members are serious business people. People who understand the long-term implications of ignoring the possibilities for our downtown.

    My big question is: Does Cary have influential people – besides Jim Goodnight – who could possibly make county and state leaders lean more towards Cary and less towards Raleigh? I think it is possible, but I have no real evidence to go by.

  20. Speaking of making downtown Raleigh more attractive to business there was a fairly recent article in the TBJ about a personal rapid transit (PRT) system being designed at NCSU. To my surprise the article came and went without much fanfare or discussion.

    NCSU may very well build what they are calling “ecoPRT” starting with a line between campus libraries. One (of many) great thing about this system is that it can be built in existing right-of-ways with a track cost of about 1 million per mile. At this low price nearby merchants at Cameron Village and in downtown Raleigh could justify privately funding expansion of the system to gain access to more customers. As such high density areas would be linked together by ecoPRT and paid for using private funds because it makes economic sense for stakeholders to do so.

    Perhaps ecoPRT is nothing more than a “pie in the sky” university research project but I tend to think not. If you get into the literature you’ll find that planning officials with the city of Raleigh are involved. NCSU did set aside right-of-way for a future transit system albeit at the time they had no specific system in mind. This is why ecoPRT is now being designed.

    The TBJ article is an interesting read. If you would like additional information follow the link within article to ecoPRT website.

  21. EcoPRT seems very unrealistic. I welcome it though because it would be a pretty quirky and unique thing to have running through the city. I’m not sure how much utility it would really have; it could end up being just a glorified amusement park ride for the university. But it could work out and it’s better than nothing.

    The cost estimates couldn’t be right, and the renders don’t show something that looks particularly fast or safe. But even if it ends up being called “Anderson’s Folly”, if they can privately fund it more power to them.

    @Ernest – I wholeheartedly disagree that a more corporate council is one that would favor urbanism or better planning more. There are too many developers in the Triangle intent on pushing the status quo, intent on making a quick buck on poorly planned projects and sub-par construction. I don’t want these firms getting a rubber stamp. I’d much rather see the Portland model for urban infill, rather than the Houston model.

  22. Vatnos, please re-read the part of my post you spoke about. First, I never said “corporate council”. Just people who have business experience and understand the needs of businesses of all kinds and sizes. Second, I didn’t mention urban development, just corporate relocations. Let me clarify “corporate”: Not necessarily huge corporations, but large enough to make a difference in our downtown, just like Progress Energy did before and Red Hat is doing now. Anything above 1000 people would be ideal.

    Translation: We need a few good corporate citizens that will increase our CBD’s employment base, help several events through donations and hopefully add residents in the downtown area. Such relocations would help smaller businesses survive directly and indirectly.

    Note: I love Portland’s model and this is how I envision our downtown. However, I want a balance of business and residential life that will create the 24/7 that most cities want to accomplish.

    The quick buck developers have ruled for a very long time and I don’t see this changing any time soon

  23. Eco PRT is a distraction from the real need of a robust mass transit system-ala Musk’s tube system in California. The system would work is a small area such as an airport or shopping mall but not between long traveling distances. It just shows how out of touch the Raleigh Chamber is with reality.

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