Municipography: Rezoning on Peace Street for a Boutique Hotel

Municipography is a summary of current issues going through the Raleigh City Council and other municipal departments in the city. The point is to try to deliver any video, photos, and text associated with the discussions happening at City Hall or elsewhere. Since this is a downtown Raleigh blog, the focus is on the center of the city.

I recommend email readers click through to the website to see the embedded video.

Discussion continues over a potential new development on Peace Street where a developer wants to build a boutique hotel. 615 West Peace Street, mentioned on the blog before, is zoned for 3-stories but after an initial application of 5-stories, negotiation with neighbors have dropped it to 4.

Shown above is the public hearing around this issue that took place this week and I think it’s important for readers to watch. It gives you a sense of the council on density and rezoning cases.

On a positive note, I actually do think there is a sense of approving this but the council seemed to get into the weeds about the rooftop bar. A lot of the discussion focused on what can be done on a roof and some feel that a 4-story height limit in addition to a rooftop deck is basically the same as a 5-story building.

Here are the highlights if you don’t want to watch the whole thing:

  • First few minutes re-introduces the issue as this is not the first public hearing. A history of the issue is given and an update on the latest conditions compared to current zoning.
  • During the support portion of the public hearing, I recommended jumping to 13:20, Sunny Miller speaks in the support of the nearby businesses.
  • At 17:38, a lawyer representing The Paramount HOA seems to show most concern over the rooftop amenities.
  • At 45:10, you can really get a sense of the possible frustration in the development community as the applicant tries to close with some final words about how long and costly the process has been.
  • At 46:45, enthusiastic support from Councilor Stewart.

For me, I find myself repeating myself when I say that I want the council to focus on bigger issues but instead are diving into the weeds of each case that’s presented in front of them. I don’t want to go off here but it just seems that if a council meeting wants to spend time on what the railings are going to look like, something is wrong.

Watch the video and decide for yourself. The conversation continues on April 17 as the council voted 7-1 (Stewart opposing) to delay a decision by two weeks.

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  1. I am left with the feeling that the zoning remapping after the UDO was intentionally very conservative in terms of what it allows as-of-right, with very little upzoning, precisely because the council LIKES getting lost in the weeds and WANTS to have a say into how the railings will look. This allows council to be more responsive to neighborhood issues, which are often used as the deciding issues in an election. Every prospective councilor wants to project an image as being a “strong neighborhood advocate.”

    It’s a little unfortunate, since it does empowers NIMBYs. I don’t fault Paramount’s HOA for advocating in their own best interest here. Avoiding this issue is exactly why Smokey Hollow is 12 stories in a DX-12 district, the proposed Hillsborough Street developments are 20 stories in DX-20, the Willard is 7 stories in DX-7, and so on.

    IMO a street like Peace should be zoned for nothing less than 7 stores as-of-right from Saint Mary’s eastward. Between St Mary’s and Johnson I could see 3 or 4 stories but it should be mixed use zoning rather than R-10 residential. Mostly the council made the zoning plans based on what’s already there, rather than based on a future-looking vision for how Raleigh can continue to grow without expanding its boundaries over the next 50 years.

  2. absolutely crazy there is this much debate to build a hotel in Glenwood South! Sad to see Stewart is the only reasonable council voice in this.

  3. To regulate and/or how much to regulate?
    Interesting that the city council itself doesn’t get involved with the color scheme of my house (just a couple of city blocks from downtown) but they do on the color of the rails on this short building…Lol

  4. I think it is absolutely ridiculous we can’t have a 5+ story building in that space! Especially a boutique hotel. I would love to have a 5+ story nice boutique hotel that would bring a nice restaurant / bar, etc. That space needs it. Maybe they will just approve it for another cornernstone.. that way they can wrap all they way around the block…

  5. “If I’m looking out my widow.. would be nice to look at evergreens vs people”… apparently some people have never lived in a city before or have never been to one. Can you imagine if the people living in condos could control the height of all the buildings around them in all cities.. nothing would ever get built… not even other condo buildings

  6. When I look outside from my single family domicile in Boylan I just don’t want my beautiful view of Death Row to be ruined! This is why we can’t have nice things—I mean awful boutique hotels!

  7. I know that the common narrative on this site is that more and bigger are always better ideas, but I am not in agreement. Good design, zoned properly for the best overall experience by the most people is the better idea in my book.
    Under the UDO, 7 stories is 90 feet. To keep that in perspective, 90 feet is enough room for ten floors of standard residential construction from the ground up. It’s about as tall or taller than the Paramount is at any point in the building because there really isn’t a place where the building goes from 1st floor to 10th floor straight up, as it descends Boylan Ave.
    Now, imagine you live in one of the historic houses that backs up to Peace on a small lot on Hinsdale. You walk into your back yard to find a giant wall with windows peering down onto you like a giant. I’m sorry but that’s not right. There needs to be a transition to adjacent SFH neighborhoods. Like I mentioned previously, that transition for the northwest side of downtown is Peace Street. While I think it’s reasonable to talk to about 4 or 5 floors as a variance (case by case) on the south side of Peace, it’s completely unreasonable to talk about a number higher than 3 floors for the north side of the street. Even at 3 floors, the UDO allows 50 feet in height. That’s more than enough height backing up to small, historical single family homes.

  8. For those wishing Glenwood South could retain the remaining character it has left can exhale slightly. Monday plans were submitted to the city to renovate and restore 300 Glenwood aka “Clark Art”. SR-31-18 are plans for “Tin Roof Restaurant and Bar” which will restore the current brick building, with updates to the awning and sidewalk. This is good news for Glenwood South, also hoping someone does the same for Vickers and Ruth plumbing two doors down (Not sure if they are still in business).

    -I cannot copy the attachment for the plans

  9. That is great news Drew. That poor building has been an empty gap for too long now.
    Looking at the submittal, The Lawrence Group has messed up their elevation orientations by rotating each clockwise by 90 degrees. They show the street elevation as the south elevation when it actually faces west. It doesn’t look like they are doing anything drastic and there’s no real leveraging of the exterior space as it wraps the corner. That’s a bit disappointing. It does, however, suggest “telescoping windows”, on the facade….what ever that means. I hope that it means the sort of storefront found at Hibernian that allows the wall to open to the fresh air on nice days.

  10. I don’t understand these people who buy a condo unit in downtown Raleigh and then act indignant when people want to build things around them. Why does anyone take them seriously?

  11. Regarding the rezoning for the Peace St. hotel, if Paramounts are concerned about rooftop patio noise, why not let them build 9-10 story hotel, then the rooftop would be above the Paramount, and the noise would be directed up, away from their condos. Problem solved.

  12. I thought it was comical when the Lawyer of the Paramount talked about the traffic issue and then presented a photo of 15 or so cars backed up on Peace. Coming from larger cities Raleigh does not have a traffic issue. This is the only city I have lived in that wants to grow but does not want added traffic but will not improve the public transportation system. It seems as if a lot of the older folks have too much say in what the council approves and does not approve which is unfortunate.

  13. ^^ “but will not improve the public transportation system”

    -The investment by the city over the past two years has been pretty significant.

  14. Durham throwing mad shade at the City of Raleigh’s incompetence on Twitter:


    “If folks are looking for rooftop bars @TheDurhamHotel and @UnscriptedDurm are awesome (with more on the way!) and parking in downtown Durham is free after 7pm and on weekends so ??????”

    Oh snap. Guys just think all the money the City of Raleigh is using up to discuss this one tiny building, over and over again.

  15. Speaking of transportation spending, does anyone know where we stand with the bikeshare?

  16. HOAs are governance structures that enact and enforce rules, and manage grievances. HOAs act like city councils, not vice versa.

  17. I agree completely with Council Member Nicole Stewart . She supports the rezoning of the hotel as a 4 story plus the roof top bar & wanted to pass this rezoning without a two week delay !

  18. It appears that the council thinks you should see evergreen trees from the paramount windows and not other buildings or people. Is the in the CITY of Raleigh or a mountain in Asheville.

    This is clearly a case of TOO much govt. A year has gone by and this is still going on, seems like the whole thing is stuck on stupid.

    No wonder builders don’t want go go big vertical, this is silly.

  19. OMG people, the case at Peace and Boylan is a variance request, not a God given right of the developer being challenged by NIMBYs. It’s a variance request of the city’s UDO that likely affects the entire Peace St. corridor which is also a step-down to a historic single family neighborhood on the very edge of downtown proper.
    While I support an equitable and reasonable solution to accommodate a boutique hotel on this corner, I am not so foolish to think that a rubber stamp to the developer’s request should be given to them just because they want it.

  20. It seems like the developer had bent over backwards to accommodate the neighbors concerns.

    Reminds me of the useless roping off of bars on Fayetteville street a couple years back.

    Welcome to City growing pains. The city will push out every year and its no end in sight.

    The old slow and relaxing Raleigh of the past is gone and it will never return

    Prepare because we have no idea of what is in the planning and you won’t until it pops up.

    If you want privacy and PEACE move to Chapel Hill.

    Be careful what you wish for as you just might get it.

  21. I don’t think there is any project at Boylan/Peace that can change the character of that neighborhood any more than the Paramount or Gramercy has done. I’m not trying to sound unsympathetic, but this really does seem like a case of “Last One In” syndrome.

  22. I have an idea, build a five story hotel there with a rooftop bar since there’s so much love for the idea without regard to those affected by that decision on the other end of Peace Street.
    In all seriousness, this is a huge loss for the character of the city. That KK has been sitting there for nearly 3/4 of a Century. Say goodbye to the KrispyKreme Challenge…a true cultural differentiator for Raleigh. I’ll give Durham 10 seconds before they try to steal the challenge for themselves.

  23. That’s some logic: Dirt lot at the corner of Raleigh’s busy entertainment district is the same of iconic donut shop location. I guess if it’s not in your literal backyard you’re fine, John?

  24. Just saw on TBJ that the 301 Hillsborough Street property has been sold. It is behind the subscriber wall, so I can’t read the article. Here’s to hoping for better architecture (maybe 2 separate buildings??) and bidding adieu to the ugly massive box that was proposed.

  25. Just saw 301 Hillsborough St. has been sold to a company out of Boston for 17m. This is actually good news considering the company before was very unlikely to actually build.

    The Fallon Company just recently relocated their southeastern office to Charlotte last year. So it seems they are taking the region seriously.

  26. Just wait. The area of the lovely banner photo at the top of this blog is all zoned for 7 floors. Who wants to swing the first sledgehammer?

    Essentially the stretch of Peace at the KK is zoned similarly to the western stretch of Peace: as a 3 floor step down to the neighborhoods adjacent. Expect that to be challenged.

  27. RIP 301H. I was betting that one was going to be cancelled first. Now the Edison will be next for sure. Current business that need space don’t want to wait two years for an office and the Edison doesn’t want to build without preleasing. It’s as good as dead once they file their taxes and see how much they own in property tax for a dirt parking lot.

    At least this means 400H has a better chance.

  28. Mark my words, if the hotel gets its variance, the price of all of Peace Street frontage property increases based on the presumption that they too will get variances. We then say goodbye to the step-down buffer and we give a giant middle finger to the historic sfh neighborhoods that immediately border it.

    A lot of things that we love about DT Raleigh and its character are at risk. Things that I expect to fall like dominoes over the coming years include: Mellow Mushroom, MoJoe’s, all of the converted-use “residential” buildings along Glenwood South & Peace St., The shorter interesting commercial buildings on Glenwood (we already lost a really cool Mid-Century office building that was replaced by The Gramercy), etc.

  29. According to the article about KK that company has been buying multiple KK locations I wonder what their actual plan is…

  30. Ray Kroc figured out years ago that McDonald’s was actually in the real estate business and that profits didn’t come from burgers. KK probably wasn’t acquired for any other reason than to capitalize on their RE holdings. A KK might remain in the Raleigh market, but it will likely get pushed to the cheaper burbs. We’ll be very lucky if ITB can retain a KK somewhere like Cameron Village, or perhaps In Kane’s Peace development (though I doubt it).

  31. I doughnut like it one bit…

    Maybe the developer will save the sign and incorporate it into the new beige on tan on brown building they plan on plopping there.

  32. Wow just saw Finch’s is already closing in Durham. I might be evil but a little part of me likes when all of these “institutions” go away. I have no interest in them and they seem like relics from a crappier past.

  33. KK is not going anywhere – the investor is building their KK portfolio, similar to PE firms with other restaurant chains.

    And not surprised by 301H. I figured that the debt was too much to hold out for an equity stake in a future deal. ie they needed to get out. Interesting that we now have yet another new out-of-town developer involved in downtown…

  34. @M. I agree. The sale of 301 is actually a good thing. Note that is wasn’t a fire sale either. Lundy made a lot of money on that deal. That means that the property is highly valuable.

  35. And Fallon generally produces good quality, well-designed buildings. I expect we’ll get a good product here relatively soon.

  36. Keep your eyes on 527 Hillsborough St. That property might be up for contact soon. Doubt it’s anything serious, the foundation would require extensive stabilization for any significant building to be placed there.

  37. I think 527 Hillsborough would make a cool “Skyline View” Park…. give a little greenspace back to the neighborhood. But then again, greenspace doesn’t generate lots of revenue for the owner.

  38. KK signed a lease with the new owner of the property for the next 20 years. KK will be in that location until at least 2038. Some of us eat enough KK that we won’t be around past then anyway.

  39. Did that home design store that moved in recently not work out? With One and Two Glenwood right there, that’s gonna be a prime spot for sure.

  40. Some updated renderings inside and out of the Origin Hotel at Two Glenwood. Says it is coming mid 2019. Obviously the parking deck is already under construction, but good to know they’re proceeding without delay on the hotel too.

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