Pic of the Week

Construction of West and Lenoir townhomes

Townhomes on West Street

The townhomes called West + Lenoir are taking shape along West Street. The units are almost all sold at the time of this writing.

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  1. It’s going to be interesting to watch the race in SE downtown Raleigh for housing options. Apartments, condos, or town homes like these? Will it be combinations of all those housing options or will those rather high cost push us in a must build certain direction?

  2. Amazon seeking a “2nd Headquarters” in a North American City. Projecting 55,000 jobs and $5.5Blion investment.

    Raleigh should be going “all in” on this. The current “right wing legislature” will probably be a huge impediment to us however Raleigh represents the “best bang for your buck” of all potential tech hubs: NY, DC, Austin, or Boston.

    NC and Raleigh, please make this a priority initiative!!!

  3. I am not sure if Raleigh, Wake county, or NC for that matter truly has the political will power and desire to go for such a big fish?

  4. @Uncle Jessie – Oh my gosh! What exciting news! The competition for Amazon HQ2 will be fierce. The MLS expansion will pale in comparison.

  5. Raleigh would be a no-brainer for Bezos. Perfect locale for Amazon’s HQ2. Somehow I doubt the city and state are capable of pulling this off.

  6. With this Amazon HQ2 announcement I can’t help but think of the profound changes that have occurred in DT Raleigh since Citrix opened their Fileshare branch office. I think the office employs around 900 people today or thereabouts.

    Can you imagine what 50,000 employees would do? A game changer to say the least. I think we should be careful what we ask for. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for growth and progress but these sorts of numbers are bound to bring some significant downsides. All I am saying is that we should be careful not to embrace this opportunity with nothing but blinders on and open arms. If by chance Raleigh does win this the effects would be far-reaching and profound. The Raleigh we know today would cease to exist.

  7. Re: Amazon – The 50k jobs wouldn’t happen day 1, but the company would grow to that number over a period of many years. for reference, their current HQ campus in Seattle offices less than 40k. This would be a long term project. One that Raleigh could grow with.

  8. I don’t think that this would ever happen in Raleigh (especially downtown). But maybe RTP…Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. Your my (our) only hope! Lol

  9. A nice 40 story HQ tower on the N & O property site and some smaller buildings strategically spread out through the Triangle Region.

  10. RTP seems like the perfect fit for this type deal IMO. Cheap(er) land than most other cities can provide and a large talent pool to choose from. How many square feet would 50,000 people be?

  11. If you do a Google search on “Amazon HQ2 RFP” you can easily find the RFP which is due Oct 19th which is lightning quick!

    A very interesting read to say the least. Amazon is heavily emphasizing the need for financial incentives. I will avoid wading into that political swamp by withholding comment.

    One other RFP requirement I found especially interesting is to provide data on mass transit options and commute times. In this regard the triangle area doesn’t look so competitive. I drive to RTP daily and putting an employment center of 50,000 there would turn a frustrating traffic situation into a nightmare scenario.

    I’m thinking a campus in South Wake county might work best. There would be easy access to 540 loop with direct connection to the airport which is something Amazon wants.

  12. Sorry, accidentally posted my comment too soon. I was going to mention that we do have several spec office buildings that are basically ready to go downtown, and that may be enough for the near term if the ramp up is gradual. There would also be an immediate boom in high-rise hotels in DT Raleigh if they ended up going there. Ultimately, I doubt we’ll get it, but I’m also not convinced it’ll be good for Raleigh in the long run. From a development perspective, it’s a bit like a 300 lb, man doing a cannon ball into a kiddie pool, and there’s plenty of evidence that large concentrations of such high paying salaries can wreak havoc on the rest of the community. While I’m in favor of more urbanization here, and we need to attract more anchor corporations, this seems like this would be overwhelming, and like Stew said, Raleigh as we know it would cease to exist.

  13. They listed a number of specs on the RFP. The first phase would be a 500K square foot building, but full build-out would be 8 million sq ft. That’s more than all the office space downtown right now.

    As far as the specs, we meet most of them, especially the educated workforce/talent part. They also want to be close to an international airport (check), close to an interstate (check), and for a city our size, very good cultural offerings.

    We would be disadvantaged when it comes to transit (another spec) and size (they want a city with at least a million people in the MSA, Raleigh is about 1.2).

    I actually think there’s a relatively good shot at this, especially because of the workforce and low cost of living. Raleigh certainly has stronger software credentials than almost any other MSA over 1 million, and that’s the skill they specifically mentioned.

    Here’s the RFP if anyone wants to read. https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/G/01/Anything/test/images/usa/RFP_3._V516043504_.pdf

  14. @Uncle Jesse, @Robert, @Dave M. I am just curious as to what you think the city or state can do to attract amazon. To be honest, I don’t quite understand why a “right wing” legislature would be an impediment. If anything, they would probably give them land and let them pay zero taxes because those are very conservative/pro-business principles.

    Just sayin

  15. Agree on the Be Careful What You Wish For refrain. The Raleigh that we know has already pressed the gas on its evolution. Having seen what’s become of the South Lake Union area of Seattle and understanding where the term AmHoles is derived, I would say that we may not have the infrastructure to wade into the Amazon pool and we may not like the view when all is said and done and we take off the rose colored glasses.

  16. Amazon’s current Seattle footprint is reported as 33 buildings, 24 on-premise restaurants, and 8.1 M square ft. of space. They expressed an affinity for an urban setting, but they want their workers to have access to urban and suburban housing options. My gut says Raleigh’s housing and mass transit infrastructure is smaller than they’re looking for, but we are attractive enough to not count out right off the bat. Our airport is actually very good for the size town we are and not being a hub, and already has established links with other tech hubs. We’re also the best east coast option outside of Boston to fulfill one of their top priorities of access to a pool of university researchers and talent.

  17. One interesting thought (setting aside the probability and pros/cons for a moment) is the prospect of utilizing existing spec proposals in downtown and Centennial for Phase I, and then basically redeveloping the entire southern gateway from 40 to downtown in Phase II. There’s plenty of relatively inexpensive and underutilized land there with great transportation access, and it lines up with the city’s long term vision. Integrated mixed use and residential could mitigate some transportation load.

  18. Not my personal preference but, I really feel that RTP has the best chance of any place in NC. Close to everything including Raleigh/Hi-Tech area, all three universities, RDU, I-40, I-85, plus doesn’t RTP already have a multimodal transportation center planned that they could fast track? RTP certainly has the required office space. Still a long shot imho, but very worthy of sending a proposal. :-)

  19. @iLikeSpaghetti,

    My comment about the government entities dropping the ball has nothing to do with the political parties in power. More to do with the city, county, and state not being creative and aggressive enough in a potential pursuit, if they bother at all. Bringing in Amazon seems like it would be out of their element and comfort zone.

  20. Dave, I agree with your angle but I think the bottom line with AZN is

    1. Revenue
    2. Profit
    3. Business environment related to 1 and 2 above

    If NC and Wake want to participate in this then be ready for the order if effects when they come to town. It will bring with it the same issues that folks in SEA have identified.

    It surely can not be obsorbed in down town. RTP is the best spot but may be too far from what they prefer.

    RDU is looking to do something with its land long term and that might be another choice.

    Anyway, this is fun to think about.

  21. As a point of reference, the twin towers in NYC were home to 50k workers. I honestly would love to see Raleigh get this but I think “Pipe Dream” would be an understatement. We aren’t anywhere near capable of handling this anytime in the next 20-30 years. Especially downtown.

  22. There is no arguing Amazon HQ2 will have far-reaching and profound effects on whatever metro area happens to land it. For perspective the plan for those 50K new high-paying jobs is to add them over the course of 10-15 years. Amazon’s RFP specifically mentions that an innovative and creative area with high growth prospects is highly desired. By this I take it Amazon intends to not only grow the company but partner in the grow of the area as well.

    I would think the Triangle has some shot at this although I can’t imagine we’re a front-runner. However, our area is #7 in the country for tech jobs and we do have the university system here to feed Amazon’s employment pipeline. We’re also a fast-growing area with reasonable real estate prices and an excellent if not acclaimed quality of life.

    Our mass transit system is weak but a commuter rail line is planned from Garner, through downtown Raleigh, NC State, out to RTP and on to Durham. The 540 loop, once completed, will add much needed capacity to alleviate congestion. RDU already offers direct flights daily to all of the metro areas specified in the RFP. Does Amazon really need an Atlanta Hartsfield to thrive? Wouldn’t it make good sense to add specific routes to an airport like RDU that’s not already slammed with traffic?

    Oh, and the Triangle area is becoming known as the new “Silicon Valley” of smart grid technology. Our state is also the #2 solar energy producer in the country! Amazon’s RFP proudly highlights the company’s sustainability efforts. I wouldn’t think our standing in this regard will be lost on them.

    Our area does have a lot going for it. Still, Amazon has clearly outgrown Seattle. If HQ2 is going to be an “equal” I’d imagine Amazon would be concerned with out-growing our area as well. As Al mentioned this is a fun thing to talk about.

  23. It would certainly be a doozy for Raleigh and downtown…and not all in a good way as others have stated. Having said that, I think you could boot most of the State out of downtown (I am a State employee and trust me, most of the employees don’t like downtown. Just keep core, symbolic pieces downtown) Then you can work out an MLS/Amazon combo site using State land and some of Kane’s land along Peace and Harrington. Maybe if those two knew they were going to tango together (MLS and Amazon) they’d pull the trigger at the same time. You could even sell Amazon some of the State’s newer buildings like Revenue . If you move enough of the State, maybe you also do things like make Caswell a park again…some green up next to Amazon’s new downtown campus. Funny I’ve never been much of a proponent of moving 75% of State employees out of downtown, but after working with these people for almost 20 years, I can see they hurt downtown more than help it (no tax revenue, they only eat in the basement cafeterias, they complain if they have to walk more than 50 feet from their car to the front door….etc….mind you not all…but a solid majority do)

  24. Everyone wants to give away all the goodies to get Amhole here? I love the company and its ease of use but this is the same company the State sued for the lack of collecting taxes on products sold to residents of NC while the brick & mortar stores went under. Let’s get Infosys downtown as I think smaller tech companies that PAY taxes will grow and need more office space gradually. Examples are Citirx and Red Hat which are nearing capacity of their current spaces. They both got incentives or your tax $$$ to go downtown also!!!! FBN bank needs to get their plans in if they want to start north charter by December also….Dillon is looking great and smokey hollow will demo buildings in next few weeks so Kane is getting it done.

  25. I’ll chime in. One of my previous jobs was at one of the larger tenants at RTP with about 10k employees. I thought that was huge so a campus for 5 times that would be quite a spectacle. 50k people going to one location in the morning and leaving in the afternoon would be like having a football game 5 times a week.

    The economic output, no doubt is great, but I can’t get over how the Triangle would handle this. I fear that landing Amazon’s 2nd HQ would result in a wave of sprawl like we’ve never seen with road building ramping up to try accomodate, the politicos clamoring for it to ease congestion.

    Like previous comments, our office growth feels good, with multiple towers in the works. That’s just downtown too.

    Remember too that 50k jobs doesn’t mean 50k people. It means more families and partners that need their own jobs, services, etc.

    If Amazon wants Raleigh, nothing stopping them from shopping for space. I just hope we don’t bend over backwards for them with incentives when we really need it for infrastructure first.

  26. I’d love to see an opportunity like this come to Raleigh or RTP. Such an investment would be thrilling to witness. However, based on our current transit system and current walkable urban spaces I don’t think we’re quite ready to truly reap these benefits. Sure there’s land but the accessibility decreases sharply once leaving the Downtown.

    I think Raleigh should continue to make investments that will position our city for future opportunities like this. The commuter line is a big step forward. So are plans (or at least the idea) for a more urban core in RTP (which Raleigh and Durham should fully support).

  27. Which is why I have been trying to say that for Raleigh to fully function as a vibrant City investments in Transit have to be made. It’s time for Raleigh to really grow up and not sit behind and watch. more walkable and accessible urban spaces, Bus shelters with maps showing where they are and where to go, and Yes, Light rail. At least a light rail from Downtown to the airport for starters. If Amazon does pick Raleigh, I hate to see how the infrastructure will hold.

  28. Mav I agree with you 99.8%. The only thing I’d like to point out is the 100 bus route already goes to RDU from DTR and I use it all the time. Best $2.25 trip ever. Additionally airport routes are not typically your primary light rail revenue creators, but more of an image thing. DTR–>RTP–>DTD is the backbone line that I think really needs to exist first. But yes, overall, the transit scene here needs about a tenfold additional investment.

  29. The recently published Reuters commentary: “Why no city should want Amazon’s HQ2” does an excellent job of exposing the downsides of winning this “prize”. I read the other day that both Wake County and RTP are “all-in” on submitting a proposal. In all honesty I hope their enthusiasm is feigned, expressed simply to avoid the political fall-out of not trying at all.

    Now I’m reading that Seattle’s mayor has directed his economic development officials to respond to this RFP as well. Give me a break! Has Seattle learned nothing? Like a burned-out meth head the face of a once beautiful Seattle is barely recognizable. We shouldn’t drink the cool-aid folks. Let’s not become the addict Seattle has clearly become. We are doing just fine. The more I consider this Amazon thing the more convinced I become that we shouldn’t only say no, but hell no.

  30. Stew, I’m more and more agreeing with this sentiment. Amazon would-be everywhere. They would take over and I fear rapid the rapid growth that would result would be at the expense of quality. It’s just not a good fit for Raleigh. Let’s keep doing what we do and always be improving.

  31. I wish that Amazon would split the 50k jobs between multiple cities, different regions around the US. 10k may still be a lot for Raleigh but it would be easier to absorb than 50k!

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