A Walk Up North West Street

Staring down North West Street at Hillsborough Street

On an early morning weekday, I went for a walk up North West Street to check out a few projects and take photos of the current state of the street. West Street is an important street in my opinion as it is a direct connection from the Warehouse District to Glenwood South. Right now, it is more of a go-through street (by vehicle or bike) as opposed to a pedestrian hub of activity. That doesn’t mean there isn’t potential for a different face in the future.

There isn’t much to look at but the potential for new projects here is huge. There isn’t much retail or commercial right now. Some blocks of West are even lacking sidewalks.

While Glenwood Avenue is the primary pedestrian corridor of Glenwood South, West Street might do the heavy lifting with higher density projects in the near future as well as provide better connectivity in and out of the area.

Below is a map I made of highlights up and down North West Street. Let me know if a nearby project is missing and I can add it for completeness.

Open up the map yourself here.

At West and Hillsborough Street, you can already see the empty spaces ready for new uses. The mid-1900s storefronts along Hillsborough and the almost empty block at the corner of Hillsborough and West have been waiting for years. Would you consider this Glenwood South? I feel like this intersection doesn’t belong to either Glenwood South or the Warehouse District so the revitalization of those districts haven’t hit here yet.

Corner of West Street and Hillsborough Street

What could get this area moving are two, big nearby projects. One Glenwood and 301 Hillsborough are about two blocks along Hillsborough in each direction. Those two “bookend” projects could invigorate the street between them.

Heading north, the intersection of West and Jones could be much livelier in the near future. The Link Apartments has recently been finished at the Northeast corner and more residential units are planned at the Greyhound Apartments one block to the east.

The Link Apartments are now open at West and Jones.

The Raleigh Electric Company Power House building is an icon on Jones Street and we’re still waiting to see what comes of the space after Natty Greene’s lease was pulled last summer.

At the end of the block, we’re also waiting for the future offices of Google to open. It’s a high-profile company for sure but I still have mixed feelings against Google taking a great looking building and using it for offices and not something more active, especially in Glenwood South. We’ll see how it turns out.

Moving on, we pass multiple surface parking lots. I hope one-day that these lots will be replaced with more buildings that support more active uses.

The first example of when this could happen is at West and Tucker Street. The east side of West Street has had plans for years for more apartments. The West Apartments and West II Apartments have been in planning for awhile. I haven’t seen big changes to the plans but we’ve known about these projects since 2012. Hopefully, things will move on that in the near future as it is a big infill project as you can see on the map.

The West Apartments are planned for this surface lot.

A project that has been talked about for years, and is always worth highlighting, is not one around the street but under it. The Pigeon House Branch creek is buried below the area around North West Street. You can catch a glimpse of the creek about mid-block between Tucker and Johnson Street.

Creek to the left, street to the right.

Talks of opening up the creek have come and gone for awhile and it could be an asset in the newest Downtown Plan. The Glenwood Green district shows a plan for redevelopment in this area with a greenway that follows the creek path. It could be one of the most unique areas in downtown around that natural water feature.

Screenshot from the latest Downtown Plan.

West Street becomes more desolate around Johnson Street with the west side lacking sidewalks and more surface parking nearby.

Recently, news came out about the purchase of the buildings at 600 North West Street, the current location of Southland Ballroom and Themeworks. It was purchased by a joint effort involving Kane Realty and Williams Realty & Building Co.

No plans are out yet for the site. Once the replacement of the Capital Boulevard Bridge is finished, the area will see a reconfigured Harrington Street that connects to Peace rather than bending over to connect to West Street. Those plans may have played a factor in the area’s attractiveness to invest.

600 North West Street, current home of Themeworks and Southland Ballroom.

Hitting Peace Street, the walk has to continue northward. I hadn’t noticed before but the pedestrian amenities are much improved at West and Peace.

North of Peace Street, West Street doesn’t resemble the straight-as-an-arrow urban street but changes to a swerving street as it edges up against the Pigeon House Branch Creek. This light industrial and commercial area is seeing some signs of new activity.

Renovation almost complete at the corner of West and Peace.

At the Northwest corner of Peace and West, the renovation of the building where Lighting Inc used to be looks to be almost completed. The Lundy Group has come in here and bought this building and a few behind it for future redevelopment. Technology companies will be moving in here soon once the former Lighting Inc. building is finished.

While the area gets less urban the more north you go, there is something to be said about the view. Best view of downtown, in my opinion. Who can build a condo here for me?

The land topography may prove to be more challenging for a new development but with a possible park to the south called Devereux Meadows (see the Glenwood Greens plan above) it’s just a matter of time before this area gets built up.

Along the 800 “block”, a fantastic warehouse renovation has taken place. At this time, Morehead Capital is the current tenant.

There are also plans for the house next door. Each are shown in this photo below.

Old house at 713 North West Street, next to the warehouse renovation at 801 North West Street.

Development plans are on the city’s website for The Cardinal (SR-20-16), a bar and lounge planned for the house there at 713 North West Street. The lot next to it will be paved for surface parking.

I finished my walk once I hit 1000 North West Street and decided that was good enough. It’s all industrial at this point and with West ending at Wade, there isn’t much traffic. That could change if, as part of the Capital Boulevard Corridor, West Street is extended northward to connect to Fairview Road.

It may not look like it but West Street could be poised for something big and the pieces just feel like they are coming together for this very important downtown street.

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  1. Leo – this is exactly what I do on weekends!! Walk around and imagine the potential. West St is one of the most promising corridors when it comes to future development- SO MANY POSSIBILITIES! Thanks for putting this together. I also wanted to add that there were rumors (in comments on this blog) that the two story parking deck at PowerHouse Plaza is going to be developed, not torn down, but something built on top of it. Not sure how true that rumor is but I believe it was our friend Dwight who stated that, and he’s usually on the money. That would be yet another great addition to West. I am with you that it’s a shame Google took over a prominent store front on Glenwood, but didn’t they also say that the ground floor would feature retail of some sort? Imagine a Google Store on Glenwood! Now that could be cool.

  2. Jake, time to form a walking group? ;)

    That’s an interesting rumor, I must have missed that one but I can’t imagine that a two-story parking deck is very profitable. It made sense decades ago when built but with only a little bit more spaces than a surface lot, the market may bring new dev to that space.

    Last, it would certainly be great to have a Google retail shop there. I’m making the big assumption that the new offices are tied to Google fiber, which is currently being laid in various spots around the county. Hopefully it doesn’t turn into a complaint center like the Time Warner office on Atlantic turns out to be.

  3. Jake & Leo , I have a call in to a friend about The Powerhouse Plaza Parking Deck ! If I hear any info. on this , I’ll post .

  4. The Dillon is the one kick starting this area as they are moving full speed ahead. Union Station probably in the way. Greyhound Apts got permits and should start soon. Tobacco Road (best buffalo chicken sandwich) relocating to Natty Greene. Powerhouse owner SCP is also owner of 400 Block of Hillsborough St and wants to add more parking levels to the deck for 400 project. If City will allow offsite parking. The West Apts didn’t want to upgrade some infrastructure so no permits. Links, Gramercy, and 616 Oberlin did the work. West should move forward now. The creek runs under Kane’s smokey hollow site so not sure how that plays out. The bridge & road alignment and old city garage site will push that section in few years. I can see restaurants on West overlooking creek walk (like river walk) and greenway?? With Kane on two sections of West, it will change the area for years to come. You forgot to end with the goofy house between the creek, railroad, and cement plant.

  5. There’s so much potential in this corridor for hundreds and hundreds of new residents, hotels, retail and entertainment. If only I were a rich developer….sigh….

  6. I agree Leo, West Street is a key corridor. I had envisioned it as a parallel route through town perhaps as far north as Wake Forest Road and popping out at ‘little’ south Saunders. While the Wade and Fairview bridge replacements do nothing to see out my dream to Wake Forest road, the Union Station project did, and I assume, still does have a punch through of West Street under the tracks and out to…well I forget if little south Saunders or West or Harrington but one of those. In fact there is a big stormwater project next to CAM that looks like it might be about realigning things to get that tunnel under there…not totally sure (as an aside the crews appear to be tapping into an old manmade granite stream culvert as part of this…granite I tell you!). Other thoughts…I thought that hotel project at West/Hillsborough died with Bob Winston non-belief in downtown so I hope this spec purchase turns into an actual project. The NW Peace/West renovation is going to be occupied by Spectraforce and Leoforce (ha “Leo”force) IT firms founded by the same guy Madhu Modugu. 50 employees or so. Also West Street north of Peace Street used to be called Belmont Street, at least as of the 1914 Sanborn map and it only went as far as Cleveland Street which also passed over the tracks so that explains the waggle at that intersection.

  7. I’m envisioning all this development on West to have an impact on surrounding streets as well. Just yesterday I took the dog for a walk along the portion of West just south of Peace and then wrapped around to W Lane street to head back over to Oakwood. The old Rourke Bros. Distributing / Tire Supply building on the north corner of Lane and Harrington is primed for something big. Right next door to it is yet another, more modern, warehouse space that actually appears to be occupied at this moment. Going further east on Lane, across Dawson, are a cluster of even more old brick buildings that are suffering from lack of use.

    I would love to see this area come back to life.

  8. Loving all this info! Rumors are always fun. Leo – you should definitely organize a walking tour! A dtraleigh.com meetup would be really cool

  9. @ Eric, the Tire Supply complex was owned by TTA and was reserved as a light rail stop under the original plan 10+ years ago. I assume they’re still holding onto it, though I have not looked up the deed (easily done on the Wake County website). As we have seen with Citrix, serious ready to proceed proposals can get them to let go of a large chunk of land, but I wouldn’t think it’s being actively marketed, even under the radar. Just my thoughts though…

  10. @ Mark: Yep, you’re right. That site is registered as “TTA GOVT CENTER STATION SITE” by ” RESEARCH TRIANGLE REGIONAL PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION”. Well, I wouldn’t mind seeing THAT come to fruition either.

  11. The West/Hillsborough intersection to me, has always been more closely aligned with Warehouse District than Glenwood South. Mostly because of the more “gritty” nature of the area. I hate seeing all the empty storefronts there. I think half the problem is that Hillsborough Street from the Capital to Glenwood is very poorly lit at night—those old lamposts are dim. It gives a somewhat creepy feeling at night, though somehow Second Empire kinda embraces that ambiance.
    For the West/Hillsborough intersection I would love to see more life come in. As long as Roast Grill and Flex Bar are left untouched.

  12. I’ve been contemplating this area for years and have always been interested in the “places between places”. The Edenton-HIllsborough/Morgan corridor between the Capitol and Glenwood has always had that feeling to me and it’s very exciting to see some big activity planned for it in the immediate future.
    For me, everything south of Morgan and west of Dawson is clearly the Warehouse District and everything north of Edenton-Hillsborough and west of Harrington is Glenwood south. The area between Edenton and Morgan feels like neither but the city considers it Glenwood South. This is probably because Glenwood’s southern terminus is at Morgan.
    Where the Flying Saucer is might be even more interesting to contemplate because it’s technically in the Capital District but that intersection is where three districts officially meet.
    I’ve been baffled as to why this are and the the east of the tracks in Glenwood South have remained mostly neglected over the years while activity was bustling in other places nearby.
    With the Link Apartments coming on line, the activity level should move upward and encourage more investment. It can’t come soon enough for me.
    For me, the most key site (and the one that I’d love to own and develop) is the block bounded by West, Hillsborough, Harrington and Edenton. While it’s officially in Glenwood South, this is the block that feels like the connector among the three neighborhoods on the west side of downtown. It’s the perfect location for an urban grocer and drug store at street level that’s topped by a multilevel, multiscreen cinema and housing. This site has easy access from all directions by car, bike and foot and is central to nearby single family & multi-family housing to its east, south, north and west. It’s only a block from an existing RLine stop for access from the east side of DT as well.

  13. I know this is not relevant to this thread and probably really late notice, but there will be a protest tomorrow, Saturday April 2nd across the street from the governors mansion in protest of the ridiculous HB2 legislation running from around 3pm to 5pm. I imagine most posters on this site are against this national embarrassment. Just spreading the word.

  14. Nik,

    Save it for a political thread. This conversation is about the future development on West Street.

  15. Nik,

    Leo has managed to make this forum free of public political garbage, there are 100’s of others entities for that stuff, but your thoughts about future development downtown are welcome.

  16. Al, %100 agree. Not the place for that.

    Back to DT. Took a ride thru Warehouse District yesterday. Very excited to see what it will look like soon. Hopefully West street will boom next. All and all very pleased with DT’s growth. The Edison office building is getting on my nerves a little,but anyway. Other than that I’m pleased. My biggest wish and unanswered question,is the N&O site. If the developers can manage to build Raleigh’s new tallest there. Along with all the other planned developments. I think we all would be pretty happy. Fingers crossed!!!

  17. I agree and respect all of that. I’ve been a long time lurker here, way before we even moved here last year. My wife organized the protest and I got caught up in a moment of righteous fervor, thanks for tolerating that. To contribute: While I was downtown today, I noticed there’s a crane just south of the convention center around Lenoir and Salisbury, a building is definitely well above ground level at that site. I’ve looked around but can’t seem to find what this project is, does anyone know?

  18. Nik,
    Thank you for reminding us of things that will definitely, if not immediatly, affect the future of downtown. I enjoy everyone’s posts on here. Thank you for taking the time.
    I think we all love this forum for its up to date articles on our wonderful downtown, and surrounding areas. The comments are my favorite! To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the sports arena downtown conversation, because I feel it’s unrealistic. That being said, that conversation is relevant to the open discussions on here.
    This is not a political forum, and Nik didn’t treat it like one. So chill.
    Thank you Leo, this is my favorite thing to read every single day. I love Raleigh so much, and enjoy it’s vibrant reality and future! Keep posting! Maybe one day I will have some fun info to post on here. I’ve got my eyes and ears open:D

  19. The reality is that everything about our love for DT Raleigh and our desire to see it expand and grow is political. The tension between public investment in DT vs. the other parts of the city is political. The issue of public transportation is political. The issue of affordable housing in our city center is political. Public drinking on sidewalk cafes at night is political. The issue of late night noise vis-a-vis residents’ sleep is political. Voicing our opinions at city council meetings, which is often encouraged in the comments on this site, is the very definition of political. Even participating in this fine blog is a form of community organizing. Finally, the ability of our city and state to retain and attract the best talent is strengthened and diminished by our politics.

    Just being engaged in issues that affect our DT and state are all political acts. Given that we live in a representative democracy and have a collective interest in our the DT of our city, I think that it’s completely valid to continue to talk about political impacts to our common goal. I say “continue” because, whether we recognize it or not, our comments and the topics on this site all have a political foundation that’s easily found if we scratch the surface and look.

  20. @ nik , the project that you ask about @ lenior \ Salisbury st. Will be a 10 story hotel with a roof top restaurant .

  21. A relevant West Street point is that the downtown plan has a bicycle path drawn on to West street connecting future Devereux Meadows park with the Rocky Branch greenway (I think by way of the Dorthea Gardens spur, but not 100% certain on that aspect). I hope this means a green lane, and possibly curb separated bike lane. While downtown is safer for bikers than the ‘burbs, and is itself better set up for bike now than it ever has been, a full fledged connection of the greenway system through downtown helps a ton for folks not comfortable with street riding. This sets up West Street to be even more of a focus I think. I think it’d be nice if it also got some sidewalk cafes and plenty of small retail spaces as parts of future development. The City could also do things like add planted medians and other streetscape items that make it look nice, make it slower and safer traffic wise before it becomes a speedy cut though. Perhaps a rumored Publix would undo all that my mind sees, but right now, a slow leafy boulevard that compliments Glenwood, and connects the warehouse district, sounds kinda nice to me.

  22. @Mark, I don’t see why we can’t have both a nice leafy street with a median and bike land plus a Publix on West Ave.
    Kane is planning something big since he and his business partners have consolidated some acres in this corridor. I can’t help but think that it’s going to be retail since he has experience with that in North Hills. At least that’s my hope.
    But, I also agree that the road design should emphasize cycling and (obviously) pedestrians.

  23. @John, I appreciate the reassurance. I think I have a healthy fear of suburban style development landing in downtown. Kane does better than that as we know, and I think City staff do a fairly good job of reinforcing the downtown-ness of downtown so I should probably be more confident in the outcome here. I’m not well versed in the design nuances that would make it blend in to downtown and still be viable, but perhaps on roof parking (like a Whole Foods in DC has) instead of much or any adjacent surface parking, is a start. Ingress and egress points for deliveries and other utility/maintence items, the ‘front door’ of the store, building materials etc., I imagine are a few things to ‘get right’ as well. I’ve not been exposed to many urban groceries beyond the small Manhattan style stuff and that DC Whole Foods, so if anyone has examples they can point to, I’d be interested in looking them over.

  24. In regards to other styles of urban groceries, on a recent trip to NYC we stumbled upon a Trader Joes at 2073 Broadway that really opened up my eyes. From the street it looks like just a small storefront with a drug store on one side and a bank on the other. When you walk in the door there was an escalator down to the floor below. The basement was a complete Trader Joe’s. It was an amazing and welcome find.

  25. Question for the group >
    I recall as part of the Southeast High Speed Rail Plan, Jones street between West and Glenwood will close to traffic. A pedestrian structure crossing over the rail corridor will be built. Can anyone confirm if that’s still the plan?

  26. According to those same plans, it looks the majority of N West St above Peace would fall prey to the high speed line too.

  27. I am totally opposed to closing any downtown road for the benefit of high speed rail. How often will trains travel through the area? A few times per day perhaps? The trains should instead move more slowly. Any inconvenience to those on the train is way less than the cost to the city and nearby businesses. Closing Jones especially is just plain dumb.

  28. Some great food and beverage options along West St as well. With 42nd Street Oyster Bar, Clouds Brewing and new comer to the block, more. kitchen and bar.

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