Posts by Leo Suarez

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A Walk Down South Saunders Street

Intersection of Lake Wheeler and Saunders Street

With lots of eyes looking at the future of Dorothea Dix Park, there is sure to be new development and plans to help connect it to downtown Raleigh. Between the two, one of the largest such projects announced so far is along Saunders Street so I thought it a great time to walk the area.

We’ve talked about a lot of new stuff taking place near the intersection of Saunders and South Streets but going away from downtown, there are buildings and land available for new projects.

A local development firm, Five Horizons, plans for something special in the mostly wooded area along the eastern side of Saunders. Residential towers with skyline and park views plus ground-floor restaurants may one day make up this area. See the map below to get an idea of where the group is making plans.

Planned development is shown in orange. Click for larger.

Roughly nine acres in size, the area is mostly undeveloped with some businesses facing Saunders and the Rocky Branch creek on the northern edge of the property.

From the intersection of Lake Wheeler to where McDowell Street begins, a series of auto-repair shops and light warehouses line the streets. Some are open, some empty.

For this area, the Five Horizons project will create a transformation.

When looking at the currently open rezoning request, the developers are planning for an appropriate zoning that allows buildings between 12 and 20 stories tall with the shortest being in front of the creek.

In addition to a new interior public street, the buildings will be laid out so that every floor has a great view by design. This was mentioned several times from the design team at the CAC meeting I attended.

Starting with the creek, the developers are looking in to ideas to create a public space, such as a boardwalk, here. Bridges from the new development over the creek to the existing greenway could happen as a way to make the downtown skyline view available to all.

Rendering with building massings. Click for larger.

The development could have a mix of residential, office, and retail to create activity throughout the day and night.

The new street will be planned narrower as a way to create more space for people and make it more walkable.

Street and block plan. Click for larger.

After presentations and conversations at the CAC over the last few months, the response has been pretty positive towards this project. This month, the CAC has voted in favor of the rezoning for this project.

Five Horizons say that they are still years away from starting on the first parcel so I imagine this area will certainly take time to be fully built out. I expect that change may also take place nearby so Saunders could become a new downtown district in the near future.

Pic of the Week

The FNB Tower continues to rise along Fayetteville Street. The Wilmington Street side has a nice dramatic view from the southeast as seen above.

The mixed-use tower will bring over 200 apartments to an area that’s more dominated by 9-to-5ers than anything else so it’s nice to see that mix.

FNB Tower is also the last new development to take place on Fayetteville Street without demolition. I’m hoping this brings eyes to the southern end of Fayetteville where two lonely surface parking lots, zoned for a maximum of 40-story buildings, sit completely under-valued.

Let’s get Fayetteville Street extended one more block!

Administrative Alternate Shows Rendering of Nash Square Hotel

Rendering of the Nash Square hotel. (AAD-4-19) Click for larger.

The hotel planned for the southeast corner of Martin and Dawson is working its way through the approval process. Posted to the city’s website is an Administrative Alternative Request, see AAD-4-19, which shows a nice rendering of the hotel.

The request shows off the setbacks planned above the third floor and suggests some outdoor terrace, possibly for a restaurant or lounge.

Dive in to the request for more details.

Next Reader Meetup is on Feb 19

It’s time again to put a face to the readers and members of this online community with the first meetup of 2019. Come on over for some happy hour apps and drinks as we discuss downtown, transit, hobbies, and life. (IE anything)

I’m once again playing host with those behind the Oak City CRE Newsletter and Inbound Raleigh, other fine media projects that you should follow and subscribe to.

See you then!

February 2019 Reader Meetup
Date/Time: Tues., Feb. 19 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Growler USA
314 S Blount St, Raleigh, NC 27601

RalCon Serves a 12-Pack of Blogging Years

Raleigh Skyline during the supermoon on March 19, 2011.

Today marks 12 years of downtown Raleigh geeking, blogging, conversations, and meetups.

*Pats self on back*

The 12th year has seen a bit of a different format for the blog as we now have the newly launched Community sitting right beside us.

I always tell people that the reason I started this blog and all the other side projects is to create more conversations about downtown Raleigh. Since readers were chiming in with their own reports and getting to know each other, why not create a platform just for that.

There really is some good conversation over on the Community and I encourage readers to join us over there. The blog will continue on with quick hit photos, project summaries, and a variety of opinion pieces on urban Raleigh. However, if you want to really dive in to the Raleigh weeds, check that one out.

It’s also time for me to use this opportunity to remind folks that while passion runs these sites, there is always an opportunity for you to chip in. I run a lean setup here so dollars can make a difference in helping me out.

Donate to the Blog

Two ways to contribute:

  • Paypal – Click Here
  • Venmo – username: @dtraleigh

Thanks to the many folks who have contributed so far. I appreciate th support.

On to lucky 13.

Longleaf Hotel Planned for Lane Street


Last December, 2018, the Days Inn on West Lane Street closed. Later, construction fencing went up around the old motor lodge and next-door deli space. A lot of folks took notice and it turns out that local developers have bought the two properties with plans to renovate it all.

Loden Properties plans to create a boutique hotel called The Longleaf Hotel as well as overhauling the former NC Deli into Ish Delicatessen.

The buildings won’t be demolished but the renovation will be pretty deep so I imagine this year we’ll see the lot looking pretty bare. Reports say the job will take around 9 months so hopefully visitors can start booking towards the end of this year.

Google 3D image of West Lane Street. Click for larger.

Looking around the area of West Lane Street, the hotel is a few blocks away from some of downtown’s latest developments but nothing exciting is directly nearby. A great location either way and easy walk to Fayetteville Street and Glenwood South, the new hotel would offer a more authentic Raleigh experience compared to a corporate hotel such as the ones near the convention center.

It would almost be good to review some of the street paint on this block of West Lane Street. The street is incredibly wide for the amount of car traffic and a sidewalk is missing right in front of the hotel.

No sidewalks along West Lane Street. No reason on-street parking wouldn’t work here also.

The grassy, shrubby “arch” to the north of the hotel is owned by the state so I expect nothing to change there.

The cool thing to see with a boutique hotel like this is that it is going after a more local, unique experience, trying to attract travelers who want the “Raleigh experience”. That should present well with Ish Delicatessen next door as it’s being run by Matt Fern, a veteran of the Raleigh food scene.

I’m excited to see how this goes and see some new activity to this area on the weekends.