Revisiting 301 Hillsborough Street and Plans For 20-Story, Mixed-Use Building

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Looking at 301 Hillsborough Street from across Dawson Street.

Recently submitted site plans for 301 Hillsborough give us some more details as to what might come for the surface parking lots along Hillsborough and Morgan Streets.

SR-93-2016, listed on the city’s development page, shows almost a full-block development consisting of a “mixed use building with approximately 220,007 sf office; 242 residential units; 40,832 sf retail, 176 hotel units, and structured parking (991 spaces)”

SR-093-2016 map

Click for larger

Mixed-use indeed.

The site plan shows a floor plan that will encompass practically everything on that block except for the 3-story brick building at the corner of Harrington and Morgan Street. You can kind of see the new building coming up against the old so perhaps it’ll blend right in.

All the existing surface parking will be gone. In addition, the two-story house at the corner of Hillsborough and Harrington will also be removed. That house seems like a perfect candidate for a relocation.

House being used as offices for a Raleigh law firm

House at 327 Hillsborough being used as offices for a Raleigh law firm

There are a couple things we can see from looking at the site plan. Remember that it is preliminary so things may change but from my assessment Morgan, Hillsborough, and Dawson will change dramatically.

Along Morgan starting from the west:

  • Service driveways, garages (trash, service unloading/loading, etc.) are planned approximately across from the ones in The Dawson.
  • A parking garage entrance will go along Morgan also.
  • In between, there will be retail space.

Along Dawson:

  • Retail and lobby space only.

Along Hillsborough starting from the west:

  • There will be primarily retail and lobby space for the hotel and residential units.
  • A parking garage entrance closer to Dawson.

Overall, the parking garage entrances on Hillsborough and Morgan line up and on the inside of the building, there is a roundabout for hotel parking. You can also access the upper levels of the parking deck from here.

Just a detail, the site plan also shows 30 foot planters along the sidewalks of Hillsborough Street and with numerous bike racks. That’s a nice enhancement to the pedestrian space as well as supporting the dedicated bike lanes along Hillsborough Street.

I’m definitely excited for this one as an infusion of this many different uses is sure to add activity on the streets and sidewalks to all different times of the day and week.

Corner of Morgan and Harrington Streets

Corner of Morgan and Harrington Streets. Flying Saucer will be getting lots of new neighbors.

SR-093-2016 map

Another site plan map. Click for larger.

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  1. @ Leo
    Thank you! You always add your articles in a nice package AND you include a picture! Personally I think that you do a much better job than the N&O…and this type of picture makes it look very Harry Potterish. My hat is off to you! :-)

  2. Nice article and update on a project I’ve been wondering about for awhile. I’m excited to see the renderings and height too.

    On a side note, anyone know the status of the Morgan Street Food Hall? I noticed them doing demolition on the patio a few months back, but nothing since. I saw that Ed Mitchell pulled out of being a vendor there, and then last night saw the building had a sign saying the building was “available.” Did this project fall through?

  3. FYI @Jeff – don’t get *too* excited about the height. What I’ve read on the Raleigh Urban Planet forum (which can all be considered rumors and speculation based on the site plans, but usually pretty spot on) is that it should be similar in height to the Red Hat building. Very disappointed in that aspect, given the location, but otherwise very excited for such a mixed use building. I wonder how much influence the Dawson residents had over the height? It would still be MUCH taller than the Dawson, but only slightly taller than the ugly UFO Hotel aka the Holiday Inn, which is the main thing I’m disappointed about. I was hoping this new project would absolutely dwarf that hotel.

  4. Height is set by the DX-20 zoning, which has a maximum height of 250′ per the UDO (their application says the proposed height is 245′-4″)

    Fun fact, this height limitation combined with the city and its commissions wanting taller first story heights for retail (20 ft or more) is squeezing the floor to floor heights above, which in some instances is creating construction and design problems with typical floor to floor office heights for new projects.

  5. Jake,
    The UDO limits this site to 20 stories. As I understand it, the developers would have to get a variance to build taller than that. Some of the people at the Dawson have been screaming bloody murder about the height as it is. One guy went as far as to say 20 stories would be “ten times” bigger than anything in the area…I understand where you’re coming from, but I think one 20 story building will make it easier for other projects between Salisbury and Glenwood to go bigger. It’ll be hard to argue that say 25 or 30 stories is too tall next to this project and the 17 story Dillon. The only potential project I’ve seen so far is the N&O redevelopment, which is supposedly asking for up to 40 stories (though unlikely to be that tall). I’m hoping Raleigh gets at least one 600ft building in the next decade, even Mobile, Alabama has that.

  6. Fellas…to each his own, but just to interject another view…the fixation on height is driving me crazy. A) nobody will spec these crazy tall buildings B)there aren’t large companies lining up to pre-lease larger buildings C)the super tall building ground game is not the ground game I am interested in for most of downtown and certainly not between Salisbury and Glenwood. Before responding resist using words like NIMBY and Progress when countering C above and we can pleasantly discuss subjective preferences or even objective features of these sorts of projects.

  7. I take back part of that….between Salisbury and Dawson, tall works fine on some blocks. West of Dawson, I’m pretty ok with up-to-20.

  8. I’m happy to see this moving forward. Hillsborough Street is such an important corridor and this segment/district is critical to bringing together Glenwood South, Fayetteville Street, the Warehouse District and the Government Complex.

    Height is nothing without active uses that help make the street lively. This project seems to be a good mix of uses. My partially related question is when will Downtown get a ‘big’ hotel? These smaller hotel projects don’t do much for business at the Convention Center.

  9. There looks to be a lot of useble/functional retail space (i.e. deep spaces with rear access to loading and garbage), which is great!

    The giant loading dock off Morgan and the fact that the parking appears to be above grade is a little unfortunate, but the impact this will have to Dawson and Hillsborough streets looks to be good – increasing pedestrian traffic and services in this area where it is sorely needed.

  10. “M” it doesn’t really matter what the height requirement is. Once you introduce a minimum interior height, developers will always try to use that to get more on the overall height. There’s no way to avoid that argument.

    What height would avoid this issue for every potential development that could exist on a site?

    While there may be a sweet spot for every development the number of floors one can squeeze in is usually equally dependent on the type of project and various other self-imposed criteria. For instance, what criteria has determined the number of parking spaces? Could they go below grade rather than above and get 4-5 more stories of leasable space? Steel vs concrete structure? Minimum floor to floor heights? Is there a pool? Mix of uses – x number of office floors vs x number of hotel? All of these decisions have cost and area implications and any of them could be revisited to adjust the heights within the envelope to add or remove stories.

    Personally, I think the interior minimum height requirement for retail is more necessary than the overall building height limit. Anything under 15′ floor to floor is not going to be usable for a diverse enough mix of potential retail tenants. The height on the other hand doesn’t necessarily need to be limited in a lot of places downtown, though doing so encourages the filling of more empty lots, such as this, rather than shoving all the space the market can bear into a single project.

  11. Yeah CX, I agree, this street level plan looks about as good as we can hope for given interior parking being included and loading dock space requirements.
    Mike, I am guessing restaurant ventilation needs more overhead space? Interesting run down you provided….thanks.

  12. @M & @Mike, A 250 ft maximum height at 20 floors almost guarantees partial use as hotel and/or residential in order to maximize floor count. There’s no way a purely commercial building will be built with a an average slab to slab distance of 12.5 ft or less. In order to accomplish a grand ground floor height, designers and engineers will have to be creative by minimizing parking, residential and hotel room heights in order to preserve space for ~15ft+ slab to slab that most office environments will require.
    Back when the UDO was being proposed, I calculated the average slab to slab heights of each use and found that it wasn’t consistent. It was a problem then and it will be a problem in the future. For example, 5 floor buildings are allowed to be 75 ft (15′ average per floor) while 40 floor buildings are only allowed to be 500 ft (12.5′ average per floor). It makes no sense if the city ever thought it even wants to present its DT as a major corporate HQ destination.

  13. I’m wondering if the road in the middle of the block will split this into two buildings. An article earlier this year mentions twin towers. Should be interesting.

  14. Man, I hope that they don’t hack down the trees that line hillsborough st and replace them with some dumb ‘parklet’ nonsense. I know the millennials want their bike racks and phone chargers but please keep the trees! I don’t care if they get rid of the L’OB Branch commemorative plaque though.

  15. John532, development proposals wishing for a variance in those numbers need simply to apply. Gives the city the power to review these proposals. No biggie.

  16. So Flying Saucer is staying then?? Thats great news, I heard earlier this year they were trying to buy that place too & get the entire block!!!!! Also great there will be a parking garage too as there definitely needs to be more parking in the area and retail is great, would love to see a nice department store come downtown one day. Speaking of that wasn’t Kimbell’s closing & Old Navy looking at that space?? Any word on that??

  17. @Mike. Understood. That said, it’s certainly easier and quicker to not petition for a variance. Time is money.

  18. @bam – “millennials” …. haha. What a severely overused word. When used, it usually screams: “I’M OLD! TURN DOWN THE RAP MUSIC AND GET OFF MY LAWN!” Pretty sure people of all ages would advocate for more bike racks. I mean I’m no bicycle historian, but I do recall they’ve been around for quite some time.

    Anyway, I have been swayed, and am not too disappointed with the height after reading through everyone’s comments (I complained about the height early in the thread). I am with William, though, and also wonder (/hope) this ends up being 2 towers instead of one massive box. Really excited to see the skyline coming in from the North on capital- the UFO hotel is usually the first thing in sight, so this will sit behind it and should HOPEFULLY peek up above it from that angle. Covering up some blank spots!

  19. John532 & Mike-
    I was just pointing out the difficulties that the UDO creates for the DX-20 zoning due to the maximum height restriction being arbitrarily (and almost restrictively) low, as John532 pointed out much better than me. And developers/architects are even more hamstrung when tall first floor requirements additionally squeezes this number.

    I know of a few projects that have run into these issues, and yes mixing floor uses in a stack can help solve this. However, mixing the construction types for the various uses by floors, such as flat plate for hospitality or even parking, vs deeper floor systems for office uses and elevated ballrooms, adds considerable construction costs requiring things such as very deep transfer floors etc., which again affects the height number.

    I do agree that there may be too much focus on height though. The downtown core’s geography and business market simply do not support, or demand, lots of skyscrapers at this time. I believe (wish really) that Raleigh should focus more on effective, purposeful, unique lowrise infill to help activate underutilized areas and tie together the existing pockets of downtown’s economic areas. As the downtown grows together and we start running out of space, it will then drive developers to go vertical.

  20. Put me in the camp of people who’d rather see DT develop into a network of active blocks at the street level rather than one of towers filled by day and empty at night.
    My comments regarding the UDO are still an issue. They don’t seem to make sense to me vis-a-vis the typical uses of buildings. Here are the heights associated with the floor count for various uses:
    3 Floors, 50 feet: 16.67 ft per floor
    5 Floors, 75 feet: 15 ft per floor
    7 Floors, 90 feet: 12.86 ft per floor
    12 Floors, 150 feet: 12.5 ft per floor
    20 Floors, 250 feet: 12.5 ft per floor
    40 Floors, 500 feet: 12.5 ft per floor
    So, the average floor heights have been given to the shortest buildings. Other than accommodating a grand first floor height, it makes no sense to me. In fact, the average floor height diminishes as the heights go up. To not go back to the city and ask for a variance undoubtedly limits the number of floors in the taller towers if one wants to make those buildings commercial/corporate use only. Other than mostly residential and hotel, there’s no way a 500 ft building is going to have 40 floors under this UDO.

  21. I forgot the gentleman’s name & his company name, but he appeared before the council @ a 1pm Tuesday meeting app. 1 to 2 months ago to request the council to change the 20 / 40 story heights in feet . I have not heard anything else about this . This may have happen in September , I’m not sure .

  22. John532, Logical conclusion is that the city wants to have input on these buildings with significant height. Seems common sense to me.

  23. Lots of great comments and thoughts, common thread being “the city”, get rid of that and it sounds like anything could be done.

  24. Bam…sure keep the trees. But give me bike racks and art and other fun/cool stuff too. You can think what you want about people who like these things, but these people carried downtown back when there wasn’t much easy money here, and few people gave a flip about the area. I was that kid back in the early/mid/late 90’s living, going to school and partying down here in the 3-5 places that you could get a drink.Now in my early 40’s, the same things are still important to me. So it’s really not young vs old, or generation vs generation, but what one person cares about vs what another does. Glad you enjoy downtown and have interest in how it’s doing…just understand the landscape in which your comments land.

  25. I love how they gave the trees over by state a coat of armor to protect them through the construction period. I recommend the same for these beauties along hillsborough at the 301 site.

    On a side note, how difficult would it be to re-establish the street car line that ran along hillsborough st a century ago?

  26. @Mark. Count me in your camp. I too was an early adopter of DT when nobody cared and people thought I was NUTS to put down money on a pre-renovation condo at the Cotton Mill. This was back in 1993 and there was a halfway house next door and the old Halifax Court project on the other side of Seaboard. Glenwood South was pretty much nothing but I knew it was too good of a location to not become what it’s still becoming today.
    I am even older than you are and I too want more bike infrastructure and a robust bikeshare program. I like bikes so much that I rode mine the other weekend from Miami to Key West.
    In the end, it’s about lifestyle and I can’t get enough urban amenities and human based design (not car) to satisfy my appetite.

  27. John532 kudos on the bike ride man! I wanted to do the Ragnar relay on that route but the race is currently in limbo. Anyway, I remember when the Cotton Mill was occupied in I think 1996 (correct me since you know for sure) and I wanted one so bad but couldn’t afford it. It was a beautiful glimmer of being like a real cutting edge city…a renovated loft in downtown. IIRC, Rockford opened in 1995. My plan was to eat there every night and walk home to the Cotton Mill after swinging up to the Sting Ray in Five Points for a cold one. Alas.
    Bam, I am solidly with you on protecting the trees…they are finally inching up on “big old beautiful” status. With the oldest one in Oakwood felled by the hurricane, I feel a duty to preserve as many older ones as possible now. Many of the trolley tracks are still in place…I’ve personally seen virtually every bit come out of the ground that has in the last few years (Fayetteville, Hillsborough Bridge, Hillsborough in front of St Marys, Five Points, Hargett along the Dillion site edge) but have seen quite a bit exposed and paved over again (Hillsborough by Bruegers, Person/Polk, Edenton/Blount, Salisbury/Morgan, Wilmington/Edenton)….point being A)you’d be talking whole new system due to the inoperability of whats left plus B)the current transit plan doesn’t call for light rail at all and C) even if the transit plan did, the political will doesn’t exist in Raleigh or at the State level to make it happen.

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