A Walk Around South Saunders Street

Embedded above is a pretty nice looking aerial video circling the site of The Weld which sits between South Saunders Street and Lake Wheeler Road. Currently under construction, and hard to photograph from the streets, are a pair of 20-story buildings facing Hammell Drive.

There’s a lot going on in this area and I want to try and piece it together here in this post. There are multiple properties involved and multiple owners but to try and stay organized, I’m going to break things up into two pieces; Saunders East and Saunders West.

Before we dive into it, let’s start with the high-level map. The image below is being updated and maintained by a few members of The Community. This map is a sketch of the area showing the different parcels and their current state of activity. It’s a bit dated but overall, it works to get a sense of things near the Lake Wheeler/Saunders “wedge”. As of today, we have:

  • The Weld Phase 1 – under construction
  • Rockway Raleigh, formerly Park City South, Phase 1 – under construction
  • Rockway Raleigh, Phase 2 – planned
  • The Weld Phase 2 – planned
  • Lake Wheeler Road Improvement Project – planned

You can jump right to the area on a Google map here and start exploring.

Saunders East

We’ve posted already about the apartments being built on the eastern side of South Saunders, formerly called Park City South, and now called Rockway Raleigh. These apartments nestle up right against the Rocky Branch Trail and creek. A portion of the 336 homes will face that very greenway giving some residents a skyline view in the distance.

At this time, the development is mostly topped off and has taken shape. Interior work is underway and the apartments plan to open in Summer 2024, according to a sign on the development. There’s a good amount of restaurant space on the ground-floor and I imagine they’ll play off the greenway scenery. You can see how translucent this area will feel as the greenway is right up next to the building. There’s a nice tease of greenery through this plaza opening, shown in the photo below.

As far as phase 2 of Rockway goes, I consider this one still in planning. (confirmed by another sign) There are plans submitted to the city with renderings showing up to 20 stories of apartments but I’m more of a “wait and see” kind of person when it comes to these sorts of things.

Saunders West

On the west side of Saunders, we have the previously mentioned apartment project named The Weld now under construction and the planned overhaul of Lake Wheeler Road.

A pair of 20-story buildings consisting of 675 homes will completely transform Hammell Drive. The buildings are starting to rise now and while Hammell Drive is closed due to the construction, photos are hard to get from the ground. The video above is a great way to see the scale of this project.

The photos will no doubt get more interesting as these towers take shape.

Phase 2 of The Weld is also under planning but they are working with a 20-story height limit, per current zoning, so we may see more towers in the future.

Shifting to Lake Wheeler, this road is awful. I can confidently say that as I walked it from Saunders Street up to Fuller Street and it was not pleasant. It has zero pedestrian infrastructure and I would argue riding a bike here is also a bit perilous.

This all is going to change.

The city is working their way through the Lake Wheeler Road Improvement Project and you can dive into all the details on their website here. If you want to see it all in a nice 6-minute video, that’s here.

Lake Wheeler will look completely different when finished. The new design will incorporate a new street with medians, sidewalks on both sides, and a separated bike path. Intersections will be converted to roundabouts and the range of accessibility needs are being taken into consideration for this project.

The project page has construction planned to start in the Fall of 2024 and I couldn’t be more excited. You can even see the Rockway Raleigh marketing site using the new Lake Wheeler design in their renderings so I imagine they are all for it too.

We’ll check back in later to see the updates but with these two under-construction projects, we have over a thousand homes being added between Dix Park and Downtown Raleigh. Phase 2 of these projects may add even more residential so we might have the beginning of a brand new district on our hands.

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