Posts by Leo Suarez

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Pic of the Week

It doesn’t look exciting but I AM excited for the renovation work taking place at the corner of Edenton and Person Street. The former Oakwood Café space at 300 East Edenton will become home to Longleaf Swine. The food can be had today, and it’s delicious, but the upcoming space will be a treat for sure.

Their socials state a Spring opening which will be perfect for the kind of outdoor seating they have planned. Just take a look at the rendering below.

Pic of the Week

The building and playground at 554 East Hargett Street has been demolished. Most recently the home of Treasuring Christ church but before that, it was a YWCA. The Y closed in 2012 due to financial troubles and efforts to reopen it didn’t come through.

Before the sale, rezoning plans were tossed around and neighborhood meetings were held in 2019 to explore options for more residential units than the current R-10 zoning allows. No requests have been submitted since then however.

The site is pretty large, coming in at around two acres, so it’ll be interesting to see what is next.

Dukes at Cityview Coming to South West Street

The land at 600 South West Street, formerly a grassy lot with a few trees, has been cleared away. Work will start soon on a set of eight luxury townhomes, the Dukes at Cityview, that come with a laundry list of amenities. The estimated starting price will be in the $900,000s.

The townhomes are located on the southwest corner of West and Lenoir Street, within smelling distance of Sam Jones BBQ. Dukes Properties & Construction LLC are building the homes and Cline Design are the architects. The eight units will be split between two buildings with a driveway along West Street.

Zooming out a bit, the area has seen a lot of change over the past few years, primarily on the residential side. The Fairweather condos anchor the area, joined by several new single-family and townhome builds lining Lenoir and West Street. As mentioned, Sam Jones BBQ and Hartwell opened in 2021 and Vault Craft Beer should be opening soon. That gives one of my few loves, Boulted Bread, some new neighbors.

There’s still a nice-sized hole at 600 West South Street, formerly The Lynde, a property that has gone through a few rezonings and can’t quite seem to get any construction going. A neighborhood meeting for yet another rezoning took place in December 2021 so another request may hit the city soon for that property. Maybe 2022 will be the year for that one.

Pic of the Week

Have you been under the Capital Boulevard bridge at night lately? It seems like it was delayed (what isn’t delayed these days?) but the art installation for the bridge over Peace Street looks finished and is lit up very nicely now.

I’d like to think this project is finally done now that the lights are on. The Capital Boulevard project is a pretty long-lasting one as far as this blog goes, with posts about it going back to 2010. The area will probably see even more public investment as Devereux Meadow park, right next door to this bridge, goes through its planning phases.

It’s All About That Height in Downtown Raleigh

Things have been slow at DTRaleigh HQ with some recent holiday downtime. (I hope the same for you as well) Also in the background, I’ve been flexing my tech skills a bit and working with maps lately. I went down a rabbit hole with the zoning information on the city’s open data website and started thinking about building heights.

But first, a refresher.

For the longest time, Raleigh’s zoning code had two limits with regards to building height; number of floors and the measured height in feet. To a certain degree, the “height in feet” limit has been removed and today, only the number of floors is the limit we care about. That may not be true city-wide but seems to be for downtown Raleigh, where we see a concentration of floor limits as high as 40.

Since this is a downtown Raleigh blog, let’s look at just that. Downtown is, generally, given the DX zoning type. You can see a map of all zoning in Raleigh here but if I filter on just downtown, it looks something like this.

See the map in arcgis

After filtering the dataset and looking only at the ‘DX’ zoning type (DX = Downtown Mixed-use) we can see areas that we generally refer to as Downtown Raleigh and shapes on a map with different zoning. To quickly read zoning labels in Raleigh, the formatting typically goes in this order:

  • Zoning Type
  • Maximum height allowed
  • Frontage type

So for example, when I see ‘DX-5-UG’, that stands for ‘Downtown Mixed-Use with a 5-story height limit, Urban General frontage’ There are a bunch of frontages that are worth going over but that’s for another day. Today, I’m looking at that middle number only.

I wanted to get a sense of what the maximum heights allowed are but the map above doesn’t show it to me easily without clicking every shape and noting the zoning. I went ahead and created this map below which shows darker shading on areas that allow higher heights, such as 12, 20, and 40 story maximums. Conversely, the lighter shading indicates lower heights including 3, 4, 5, and 7 story maximums.

Source: Open Data Raleigh – link. See larger map here.

The map is using the same dataset from the city so it should be up-to-date whenever you look at it.

It’s probably obvious to guess that the tallest height allowances are around Fayetteville Street. Two Hannover, with the newly renamed Truist Bank on its crown, and the Wells Fargo Capitol Center have been around since the early 1990s. When you add in PNC Plaza, opened around 2008, the thought of our city’s tallest towers and where they are doesn’t surprise anyone. Taller towers nearby are allowed and could come to this area in the future.

The map does show some easily explained anomalies such as the five-story maximum at Martin and Fayetteville. This is where the historic post office sits and since that’s not going anywhere any time soon, a rezoning just seems silly. Open space on Moore, Nash, and Union Square follows the same principle with their 3-story maximums.

If you are following me so far, you may think that the tallest towers in downtown have always been, and may always be, situated around the core business district around Fayetteville Street. That seems like a trajectory that downtown has been on since we started calling it downtown Raleigh.

However, there are other districts that now have 40-story maximum zoning. I say ‘now’ as these have been approved within the last few years. If I take my map and filter on only the DX zoning type with max heights at 40, we would get a visual that looks like this.

Source: Open Data Raleigh – link. See larger map here.

In this map, we can see two clusters of 40-story max zoning outside of the traditional downtown core of Fayetteville Street, those being the warehouse district and the northern end of Glenwood South. If we look at the effective dates of the zoning in these two areas, they are all in 2019 or later.

Just a side note, from the data for the whole city, it looks like the rollout of the newest zoning per our development ordinance was throughout 2016 so while we see some zoning in downtown effective as of 2016, there’s a lot of it across the city. I want to say this was the transition from the old zoning codes to the new ones so anything with a 2016 effective date was not a market-driven zoning change more or less.

The maps above show current zoning and doesn’t consider active cases under review. As of this writing in December 2021, we can further show this clustering activity if we consider the in progress rezoning cases in downtown shown in this table.

Zoning CaseLocationCurrentProposed
Z-61-21Glenwood SouthDX-20-UGDX-40-UG-CU
Z-52-21Warehouse DistrictDX-12-SHDX-40-SH-CU
Z-78-21Warehouse DistrictDX-5-SH; DX-12-SH-CUDX-20-CU
Z-43-21Fayetteville StreetDX-20-SHDX-40-SH
Z-69-21Moore SquareDX-3-SH; DX-12-UG-CUDX-12-SH; DX-12-UG
Z-41-21Southeast DowntownDX-3-DE w/HOD-GDX-3-UG-CU

You can see that the first four cases listed above show more height in the same districts with three of them within these new clusters at the 40-story max height. Glenwood South and the Warehouse District are poised to really add much more space.

Why might this be happening? Is this an accident? Actually, it’s all according to plan.

Adopted in 2015, the Downtown Experience Plan has many recommendations in it and a subset of redevelopment recommendations suggest we are right on track. You can dive into the plan here. (pdf link) I mean, this image alone from the plan is spot on.

We have talked plenty about the downtown plan over the years, which you can revisit here, and it’s recommendations say they are for 10 years. Perhaps later this decade it’ll be time for a new one?

I could keep going with thoughts about all this rezoning. Remember that maximum height doesn’t mean the buildings are built that high. Also a 20-story residential tower is shorter than a 20-story office tower. Zoning seems to be enjoyable to the civic geeks out there because of all these nuances, am I right you all?

There’s also a pretty wide gap between the 20-story max zoning and 40-story max. If a developer only wants to build a 23-story tower, they must apply for that 40-story max. Height conditions may be a thing of the future as the eastern most shape on that map above, the one by Marbles, has a condition limiting it to 30 floors. (Nuance!)

The main takeaway that I think I’ve gotten at is that we all need to be watching the Warehouse District and Glenwood South as they may really see a jump in development this decade. If these rezoning cases to new heights seem like a drastic change, just look back and see that it’s all part of Raleigh’s plan.

Pic of the Week

After demolition in September, construction is really humming along at 400 Hillsborough. As you can see above, I felt like the northwest corner has a nice view when looking southeast. I’m sure the ninth-floor terrace, or the Skyhub as the website calls it, will have a real nice view.

On the site for 400H, it looks like foundation work is taking place right now. Perhaps by the Spring, this project will start to go vertical.

Local Developers Join Forces to Bring a Hotel and Apartments at The Acorn

Collaboration happens in all kinds of ways and in development, it’s great to see a sharing of space and resources. Two local developers, Williams Realty & Building Company Inc. and Summit Hospitality Group, are planning to build a seven-story apartment building and adjacent 138-room hotel. The site of the new development is at 415 South Blount which currently sits as a parking lot between Blount and Person Streets.

The property cuts the block in half with one side facing Blount and the other Person Street. On the Person Street side, the eastern side, will be the The Acorn apartments, shown in the rendering above. There will be 106 units on floors four through seven.

Facing Blount Street will be the hotel. A Marriott TownePlace Suites branded hotel will have rooms on all floors. The hotel and residents will share a 200-space parking deck on floors one through three below the apartments.

There’s not much to say about the property in it’s current state. It’s a surface parking lot surrounded by a chain-link fence. That’s it.

Construction is planned to start this December with the hotel portion coming later, planned Summer 2022.