This week, the Raleigh Planning Commission approved the rezoning for a hotel that will go at the corner of Wilmington and Lenoir Streets. The rezoning is to allow them to build as high as 12 stories or around 146 feet.
Below is the video of the discussion. If you can’t see the embedded video, go here and jump to 59:00.
The controversy here is that the rezoning takes place within the Prince Hall Historic District and is inconsistent with numerous parts of the comprehensive plan. There are some that are also worried that a precedent may be set by approving this rezoning. There is also plenty of available land nearby that is outside of the historic district so why must this take place on this specific site, some argued.
First, a little bit about the site. Here is a snippet of a map of the Prince Hall District that includes the potential hotel site.
Going from left to right (west to east) starting at the corner of Lenoir and Wilmington, we have the Baptist Convention Headquarters building, their parking lot and two historic houses. The next property is the driveway exit to the McDonald’s, which is mainly located on the southern half of this block.
The main argument, among others, for the rezoning is that the two houses are kind of “stranded” here around the activity of the McDonald’s and their parking/driveway. There’s little space around the houses and it is very difficult to make a case for renovation or saving these houses.
One of the conditions on the rezoning is that the developer will work with a contractor to move the houses more into the historic district as available land does exist for them. I think this is a good move as the houses could see new life when placed closer to the neighborhood compared to being alone here along Lenoir Street, surrounded by a fast food restaurant and other houses that are owned by Shaw University.
The Central CAC, members of the Baptist Convention, and owners of the historic houses were all in favor of this rezoning as well.
The rezoning passed with a 5-3 vote and will now go to city council for a final approval. That should take place in July.
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