Flurry of Activity on East Peace Street

Corner of Peace and Person Streets

Corner of Peace and Person Streets

I recently took a walk around East Peace Street and there is just so much happening here these days. On this particular weekday morning, the sounds of construction dominate. The hum of machinery, the beeping of vehicles, the hammering of nails are just some of the things you hear if you wander around Peace, Person or Wilmington Street.

These two blocks are just mushrooming with new developments. It’s not surprising that the new construction is predominantly residential as that is the current trend.

Townhomes at Blount Street Commons

Townhomes at Blount Street Commons

Built up now are some new townhomes and carriage homes at Blount Street Commons. A lot of land has been cleared along Person Street for even more of these.

Holy Trinity Church on Peace Street

Holy Trinity Church on Peace Street

Holy Trinity Church on Peace Street

You can now get a sense of the space that the Holy Trinity Church on Peace Street will take as the building shell is pretty much wrapped up.

Peace Street Townes

Peace Street Townes

Peace Street Townes

More townhomes at Peace Street Townes are moving along nicely with the entire site out of the ground now. A lot of brickwork has taken place and the first units are close to being ready.

Elan City Center apartments

Elan City Center apartments

Elan City Center apartments

Elan City Center apartments

The largest presence here is the Elan City Center project, a five-story apartment building with about 213 units. There isn’t any ground-floor retail here but with Seaboard Station just across the street and the non-active government district nearby there may not be a big reason for it.

I’ll be interested to see more about Elan City Center as the project kind of just popped up and I’m not sure what kind of local presence there is here. There are no plans for this on the city’s website and their website showcases it as a ‘North Carolina project’ rather than a ‘Raleigh project,’ mistakenly using Charlotte’s skyline on their website.

In a hot rental market, complacency in management is common, as I’ve heard is the case in some of the newer buildings in or near downtown. Hopefully that’s just a few isolated incidents.

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  1. Does anyone know if they are going to have Wilmington Street go directly into Peace Street at the new church instead of curve into it at the architect building? That curve is awful.

  2. Wow … the Elan website is embarrassing. A big picture of Charlotte, all caps “NORTH CAROLINA” – and then the description says “Located in the heart of Downtown Raleigh.” ….. ok do they actually know where the hell their building is? Pretty disappointed that the Elan didn’t include some ground floor retail/restaurant space. Sure, Seaboard Station isn’t far away, but that to me doesn’t matter. I almost think that any new building project in the heart of the city needs to include ground floor retail. We need more room for shops and small businesses. The church is pretty disappointing too. Not the look of it, just the fact that it’s there now. Like Raleigh needs more churches. Ok I’m done whining :)

  3. Because of the government complex, I think Wilmington Street will remain pretty quiet in this part of downtown. The activity will likely cluster on Peace Street and into Seaboard Station. I think its inevitable that the building between the railroad bridge and Salisbury/Halifax Street will be replaced, although I’m sure that gas station is very profitable.

  4. Jerry, They’re keeping Wilmington/Salisbury/Halifax intersection at Peace the same. (Though they just finished upgrading the lights and pedestrian signals—and I’m hoping they’ll eventually do the same at Blount/Peace soon, which has no ped signals yet at all.) However, I do they will connect Wilmington with that little strip that’s currently a dead end at the apartment’s deck’s northwest corner. So that the apartment, the church, and the architecture institute will all have access to both Wilmington and Peace, easily.

  5. Excited about the continued demand for each of these projects. Those spaces seem tight, though,. Is that peace St bridge/bypass still going through? I know of another church proposed close to that site but it went elsewhere because of the plans for that intersection.

  6. Unless these new churches are going to A) serve an immediately local population and B) have activity more than one or two days a week, I see the location of the new church as a lost opportunity for that parcel. It’s just going to be yet another thing on the north side of DT that really doesn’t contribute to the street life of that part of downtown. I’d rather hsave retail.

  7. John, I wonder what you mean by preferring retail at the church location. Any examples of the type of retail that you think would be appropriate / successful here? (I personally think you don’t need retail everywhere.)

  8. I wouldn’t sweat it out over one church. In 20 years of downtown revitalization, it’s the only one that’s been built. And compared to the Baptist churches in town, its footprint on the street is tiny! And on top of that, before building, they renovated that nice old historic home at the corner.
    I really don’t see it as a trend of a ton of new churches taking up space downtown. Let’s complain about the empty or abandoned lots around downtown that could have retail on them, instead.

  9. Great point RaleighBob. Growth at any rate in this area or any district of downtown Raleigh is a blessing (no pun intended) because there are several lots scattered throughout downtown that are empty or severely underused. There’s several lots that flat out have only 1 story buildings on them with parking lots.

    Once these little developments of 2-5 story apartments and residential units and even the occasional 30ft+ church continue to fill in these empty and underused properties, because the demand will most likely persist, developers interested in profiting even more off of these now even scarcer lots will be more likely to build something of on a larger scale.

    Question: Are there any commercial realty companies in the area that specialize in relocating corporate offices?

  10. Thanks @Jake.
    I stand by my comment. This church’s location is in a key location and doesn’t offer any daily service (no pun intended) to the general public and its immediate new neighbors. I’m sure that if you asked the future residents of the Elan Apartments, they’d rather have a Starbucks or something. Think about how this church is going to operate. What is essentially going to happen is that a bunch of people will descend on the church by car from outside the neighborhood. They’ll park and go inside. After an hour or so, they’ll do the process in reverse, since there’s not much immediately adjacent for them to do in the neighborhood by foot. They certainly won’t walk to Seaboard station since they are already “car people”. Besides, they’ll take their car there (if they go there) since they’ll have to leave by car afterward and they won’t want to walk back across the street after lunch. Truth be told, I’d bet that they are more likely to drive away to Cameron Village for brunch.

  11. Jake and John, I agree with your sentiments. As someone who is not religious, I think churches in general are a waste of time. I also understand many people do not agree, and that’s fine. That being said, it’s a pretty decent looking piece of architecture on a vacant piece of land. I’m happy to see anything go up in Raleigh. This city is still SO small downtown. I love it here, but when I decided to move here in 2008, I thought there was going to be rapid growth. It’s been delayed so long, and so many projects were cancelled. But I think we can all be glad to see any new development at this point.

  12. I actually like the church. I think it fits in well with the surrounding area. Also let’s not forget there are large communities around that area that just might walk to church. When the weather allows. Not to mention a large amount of new residents coming soon to the Elan and Blount Street commons. Many of the people may drive. But I’m sure some of the new residents will love a nice new church on their block.

    Maybe it’s just me. But a nice new church in the neighborhood is a positive thing. Not a negative. A community is built on more than high rises and retail space.

  13. Even downtown NYC has churches, its not a disaster. You might not use it (hell, Im not religious and will never use it) but it doesn’t mean that other people will not. Churches add to land value and show that the neighborhood is good for more development, so in the long run its gonna be a good thing. We need more MIXED-uses downtown and if all we get is just housing and retail downtown then its going to become a suburban like monoculture of uses just in a more vertical form, not a real urban community.

  14. Haha – John, Jeff, and myself are all pretty much in the same camp…. ironic that the J’s are the church haters HA. Anyway, I totally get where David and Adrian are coming from (except, yes David, NYC has churches, but it’s also spread out around a space 300x the size of Raleigh’s downtown). It is a nice looking new building, and sure we can’t just have retail and restaurant growth, but to be fair, we don’t have much retail to begin with. I would much rather see retail/office/residential towers being built on leftover empty lots around dTown (like David is saying, MIXED use). We already have so many churches in dTown that I hardly ever see being used. In such a small dTown, I only see new buildings that will get the same low-use as wasted potential. Peace St IS prime location. Every single empty lot left in Raleigh is prime location. Every space counts. As a growing, albeit slowly (haha Jeff), but still growing city, we NEED more retail. We NEED more hotel rooms. We NEED more entertainment options. We NEED more entrepreneurship/small business start-ups. We NEED more height. We NEED more density. We NEED more residential. We do not NEED more churches. So no, it’s not exactly a negative addition, but I just don’t see it as a positive one either. Catch my drift?

  15. Still waiting to hear what retail would be good here. And sorry, a Starbucks is not a correct answer.

    (Retail is more effective in bunches; Fayetteville St, North Person district, City Market, Warehouse district.)

    (Retail is not as effective isolated on its own.)

    This church is perfectly fine here. And no, I’m not a big church-goer either. This is not a wave of church developments. One church. Take a breath, Jake, it’ll be okay.

  16. Mike, you seem to have completely missed my point. A mixed use residential/office tower or hotel/office tower with ground floor retail/restaurant space is what I would prefer to see go up in Raleigh’s unused lots, like where the church is being built. I will note that I am not a big fan of the Elan city center apt complex either, as it is just your standard cookie-cutter box of generic, overpriced apts that take up a whole city block, don’t add much height (if any) to the skyline, and lack any ground floor retail/restaurant. This whole area is huge wasted potential right now.

  17. On that topic; I could give Elan a pass if they did include some ground floor SOMEthing, however. Like the new Edison Apts going up (opposite the SkyHouse parking deck) – they are planned to be only, what, 6 stories tall? Maybe it was 9. Either way- in that location, that’s an abysmal height. But- they ARE going to load that block with retail/restaurant space, so it’s not a total loss.

  18. A mixed use residential/office or hotel/office tower at 100 E. Peace St??? Really? 100 E. Peace St?? If you don’t see how ridiculous that would be then I can’t help you. There are literally 34 sites where that would make more sense before this site. Done.

  19. Live in the area and even being both younger & nonreligious I do not have an issue with the church. Think it speaks to a healthy neighborhood.

    About the only retail that would’ve worked while making sense for that lot would have been a strip mall or gas station. It was never going to have a high-rise and would’ve taken considerable investment to even be a mixed use condo / retail that supplied enough parking to support the ground floor stores.

  20. Let’s not forget that this is a residential area with limited parking. The church is going to share the parking lot with the architecture building since they don’t use it on Sundays. As a resident of the Blount street commons, who doesn’t go to church, I still prefer the church over any type of strip mall.(There are strict building height limits so nothing tall could ever be built in that space). The church insulates this residential/mixed use section of Blount street and makes it feel more like a neighboorhood.

  21. Downtown already had 13 churches before this new one started construction. That many churches in a roughly 1 square mile area seems like pure overkill.

  22. @Maggie…
    Limited parking in the ‘hood. Exactly!
    So, let’s be real here. This church isn’t being built to accommodate a completely new group of parishioners. The congregation exists elsewhere and will be moved to this new location. I highly doubt that they all live in the neighborhood. They are going to have to drive to get there en masse.
    A walkable neighborhood center with some small establishments to serve the immediate neighbors on a daily basis would have been an excellent option given that parcel’s proximity to existing residents and all those units under construction.
    All water under the bridge now….too late.
    For me, developing DT Raleigh is sort of like living in a small urban apartment; every square inch counts. Given the amount of DT proper space available and the services needed in the city center, I am just saying that yet another church is not needed in the city center. We have plenty of them already.

  23. Thank you Brad, thank you John. But guys! Mike already said “Done.” so why are we still even discussing this?? He has the final say! All kidding aside, I would never have preferred a strip mall or gas station at this spot. And the height restriction is a joke- that’s something that needs to be changed, not adhered to. I get that a “mixed use residential/office or hotel/office tower at 100 E. Peace St??? Really? 100 E. Peace St??” might not work RIGHT NOW, I’m asking you to think bigger than right now. I’m asking you to consider that maybe if we had waited (by “we” I mean the city of Raleigh) – filled up the other surface lots spread around Raleigh first, tore down the stupid height restrictions, then came in and developed this area, maybe we could have some taller, mixed use buildings here. Too late now, but that’s my point. Like John just said; every square inch counts. He couldn’t be more right.

  24. The church is fine by me, looks great. I am not a religious person at all, but appreciate the design of the building. All neighborhoods need a mix of uses, the parking issue will be minimal since they will only have service a few hours a week. If the church attendees do not live local, I hope they at least visit nearby restaurants and businesses. For those of you complaining about the lack of available sites, go visit other cities. Raleigh has plenty of spaces for all kinds of development.

  25. LOL. Jake, so now the best approach is to leave this plot of land empty for 25+ years until a tower can be built here???

    All for a pretty picture for you to take of the skyline?

    Sorry, I thought it was absurd enough before that it didn’t need further discussion. Hope that is the case now though.

  26. Highrises will not happen unless a major transit system is put into place anywhere in Raleigh (downtown will reach a growth cap without transit investment). To be honest the Peace St. area will remain fairly low density for the next 50+ years. High density development is much more likely to happen around Cameron Village, Hillsborough, Capital Blvd. and even parts of eastern Cary (god forbid) before some neighborhoods around downtown. Every inch doesn’t count we are not an old northern city and there are miles and miles of low density development (with much lower land costs and less uppity neighbors) which is in a better location for high rises and mix use. Sorry, some of the old neighborhoods around downtown are going to look very similar in 50 years to how they look now, especially since the area has strong historical preservation controls and is blocked off the government complex which isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Sorry, just because you want development doesn’t mean its going to happen, take the church and low rises and be happy, because much of the growth isn’t going to be where you want it.

  27. I’m a little surprised no one here has been talking about the news with Stone’s Warehouse. There is now a serious plan to redevelop the place with retail, including grocery, a food business incubator and urban garden, townhouses, a public meeting space and commons. The N&O has a detailed story about it. Look to the right in article for links where you can review the winning proposal which was Transit. Includes nice renderings.

  28. @ David. I’m sorry. I disagree. Every inch, every decision, every mistake, etc., counts.
    Each and every decision and action shapes the city and its core. The built environment is a physical manifestation of our shared values, culture and brand. Of course, there are differences among various areas within the city and DT definitely has, and needs to have, a tailored brand identity based on its (sub) culture and values.
    Regarding “needing” transit to continue to drive a dense redevelopment model of city’s core, I don’t think it’s as black and white as that. DT is one of the few areas in the city that has the capability of being more self contained. That is to say that it can be somewhere that people can live, work, play, shop, etc. It isn’t necessarily dependent on all people moving from another sector of the city to it for success.

  29. Yes, mike, because I totally said “25+ years” in my comments. ^John gets it. Let’s continue to use this space for positive discussion & constructive criticism without putting words into others’ mouths. I believe this will be my last response to you, sir.

    David: would LOVE to see a “major transit system” sometime in the near future (I’m assuming you’re talking rail?), but I don’t see that happening anytime too soon. I think we really need to up our bus game before we talk rail – last bus run is 11:00pm! Useless! When a few thousand more move into the heart of dTown over the next few years, increased bus service will definitely be the first step towards developing a full fledged transit system. I agree with John that a MAJOR transit system (ie; rail) isn’t completely necessary (right now) for Raleigh’s continued growth, but I do think better bus service will become pretty important over the next decade.

  30. Sounds like some people will complain with regardless of what is built anywhere. We all want high rises but even if we built a 700 ft skyscraper, people would still complain that the design was terrible, wrong location, etc.

    The market will determine what is built in downtown anyway. And if we think there isn’t room for more buildings, its ok, within 20 years, half of the old low rise buildings will be replaced in the heart of downtown anyway. The church is completely fine right where it is

  31. You are right Jake. You didn’t say 25+ years. You just want to wait to build a high rise (with a hotel? seriously?) at 100 E Peace St. Until then nothing should be built.

    You are correct, 25 years is not accurate. As David said, it would be at least 50 years until something like that would be remotely appropriate. 50+ years of empty land is better than a church???

    Can’t we get back to appreciating the growth of this North Blount & East Peace area?!

  32. ^market alone does not drive development. Zoning, codes and regulations do as well. For example, how we determine parking requirements and set backs and public space plays as much of a role as the market. They shape the context in which the market responds or, perhaps, doesn’t respond.

  33. First things first, zoning doesn’t mandate height minimums, and any attempt to do so is laughable, so complaining about zoning is a waste of time,because even with no height minimums there will not be anything taller than 5 stories in that area. Additionally the market drives growth, zoning tries to shape it, not vice versa. We don’t live in a centrally planned economy, and like I’ve already said, this isn’t where density is going to go. I know that you have this vision of a downtown that just spreads out radially, but the triangle region is poli-centric and really dense urban growth is going to happen in certain locations which facilitate that (like I said Cameron Village, North Hills, Crabtree, Hillsborough st, Capital Blvd). Also the argument that downtown is self-sustaining is totally nonsense, the jobs to residents ratio is way off (as it should be). The whole central business district typology just doesn’t work when you don’t have this centralization of type-A office space to other uses. Either way, no point in arguing this because things are going play out one way or the other and nothing said on this blog can change macroeconomic trends and forces no matter how you individually feel about them.

  34. The Person/Blount area will look great by next summer. Just wait it will spur more plans in the area but no high rises as building code makes it more expensive so you get 4-5 floors as they are all about the $$$. The church location would have been great small grocery/coffee or the fitness place converted back to grocery on Person. The traffic will be so bad you won’t be able to drive in 5 years. HT at CV is already past capacity

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