The Lincoln Apartments Now Open

The Lincoln Apartments

The Lincoln Apartments

I was fortunate enough to be invited on a tour of The Lincoln Apartments recently. The 224-unit apartment building that is located one block east of Moore Square brings luxury studio, 1, and 2 bedroom apartments with plenty of amenities to keep residents happy.

I wanted to write about the tour and, in a separate post, mention some thoughts and trends I’m noticing about the wave of rental buildings that have really hit our downtown. Think of this post as an introduction to that analysis.

The Lincoln will have its grand opening on September 10 but that shouldn’t stop anyone interested to get in touch with them now. I was told people are already moving in.

The clubroom, The Lincoln Apartments

The clubroom, The Lincoln Apartments

The tour started us in the clubroom, an open space with kitchen, lounge, and billiard table with contemporary flair. Small groups could socialize comfortably here and there was easy access to the outdoor courtyard. The courtyard had the pool, a sundeck, outdoor TV and couches, built-in gas grills with high-top tables, and a shuffle board table. Sprinkled around these were a variety of fireplaces. The clubroom and courtyard should be the social center of The Lincoln.

The courtyard, The Lincoln Apartments

The courtyard, The Lincoln Apartments

Walking back inside, we saw the fitness center, outfitted with brand new equipment. Attached was a yoga studio. While not large in size, the access and equipment probably rivals any public gym out there.

Transportation was next as each bedroom, not unit, gets a parking space. We took a brief peak at the parking as a way to show off the electric charging stations. The highlight, in my eyes anyway, was the bike storage room. A small room for storing bikes was easily accessible from the street. In addition, a bike repair stand, similar to the one on Hargett Street, was available for residents. Kudos to The Lincoln for providing this.

Bike storage room, The Lincoln Apartments

Bike storage room, The Lincoln Apartments

Down the hall, the pet spa. Not yet finished for the tour but a large tub was installed for washing pets. A pet dryer was to be installed later.

The rest of the tour took us through some of the units. The layout of the studios and one-bedrooms were optimal to make it seem larger. All the units have high-ceilings (9′ or 10′) and great access to natural light in most cases. Flooring consisted of faux wood throughout the units with carpet in the bedrooms. The kitchens were up-to-date with granite countertops, modern fixtures, and stainless steel appliances. Everyone gets a washer/dryer. Trash chutes and recycling are available on every floor.

Modern kitchens at The Lincoln Apartments

Modern kitchens at The Lincoln Apartments

Pricing depends on the floorplan but here is a general idea:

  • Studio – 552 sq ft – $1095
  • 1 Bedroom – 628-923 sq ft – $1168-$1717
  • 2 Bedroom – 997-1392 sq ft – $1655-$2311

The bulk of units lean more towards the lower end of those prices. Only 7 units in The Lincoln are asking more than $2000. The units along Bloodworth Street have a great downtown Raleigh view, with most price points represented on that side of the building.

View from The Lincoln Apartments

View from The Lincoln Apartments

On the inside, The Lincoln, like most downtown Raleigh apartment buildings, offer a great list of amenities to renters. Combine that with the stellar location of being close to downtown and today’s high-demand for rentals, you can’t really be shocked by those asking prices.

We’ll get more into the downtown Raleigh apartments scene in the next post. Overall, I enjoyed the tour and look forward to seeing people move in to The Lincoln.

Feedback on Outdoor Dining in Downtown, PUPS

Dear members of the Raleigh City Council,

I want to write to you today with some concerns about the proposed change in hours for outdoor dining in downtown Raleigh. In my opinion, closing down outdoor dining areas earlier will reduce the noise levels a negligible amount to be useful at the expense of economic vitality in our city’s core. There are also other contributors to noise that I feel were not mentioned during the Law and Public Safety meetings on this issue.

What I see missing are the proper metrics that balance noise levels and resident acceptance. How many hours less does it take to get the desired noise levels? What metrics are being used here? I would like the council to discuss this because cutting an hour or two off outdoor dining may reduce noise but not to a level that satisfies the source of the complaints. If reduced hours of operation on outdoor dining must take place, please implement a 6-month trial period here. The trial period could test this rather than putting in place unnecessary restrictions that benefit no one and only restrict local businesses.

From my point of view, noise is the problem trying to be solved and outdoor dining has been pinned as the source of this noise late at night. Due to the thriving nightlife we have, a few others contribute to the noise pollution in downtown also that are not being talked about. Vehicle traffic, food carts, and amplified music are other elements that add to the hum of downtown’s nightlife yet no restrictions on them are being proposed.

From a resident point of view, vehicle traffic, including motorcycles with loud exhausts, trolleypubs with woohing riders, and cars that are all about that bass, have been another noise-related pain point. These contributors only raise the noise level of conversation from outdoor patrons. Food carts with generators and amplified music add to it as well. The relative noise level from outdoor dining is a product of the surrounding environment and this has not been discussed.

An alternative view could be to look at removing noise contributors first before harming local business. Please take a look to see if removing all outdoor amplified noise would help. Please consider closing down certain blocks of Glenwood Avenue and Fayetteville Street every Fri/Sat night, removing vehicles that contribute to the noise. Please work with food carts to provide electrical plug access rather than run loud generators.

After this discussion has taken place and possibly attempted on a 6-month trial basis should we start to talk about limiting the local businesses themselves.

Thank you for taking the time to think about my feedback.

Leo Suarez
208 Freeman Street

Outdoor Seating Ordinance Changes Being Discussed

Email readers: This blog post has embedded video. Read the post on the blog if you can’t see it.

If the video doesn’t show for you, watch it here.

I’m into this outdoor seating “controversy” and wanted to get some ideas and thoughts out there on the blog.

First, let’s start with some history. If you recall, our downtown’s vibrancy was questioned during a Raleigh City Council meeting in January 2015. Developer Greg Hatem introduced the concerns (watch it in the previous link) and was quoted as saying that downtown Raleigh was “unlivable.” During that discussion, it was mentioned that a group was doing some independent thinking on this and wanted to work with the city to address it. In Hatem’s opinion, noise and disorderly behavior on Fayetteville Street was one of the reasons holding back downtown’s vibrancy.

Now, all of a sudden this is on the consent agenda for the June 2, 2015 council meeting.

3.1 Private Use of Public Spaces Ordinance Update
Marchell Adams-David, City Manager’s Office
Recent discussions of vibrancy within downtown Raleigh and the Fayetteville Street District have revealed a number of issues that need to be addressed. One prevalent issue is the need to re-define Outdoor Dining as currently addressed in the City code. Staff is currently revising the existing Standards for Private Use of Public Spaces (PUPS), originally authorized in 2007. The original intent of an Outdoor Dining Permit was for PUPS areas to be utilized for dining; since that time a number of Outdoor Dining permits have been issued to businesses and private clubs where no associated dining activity occurs.

Revisions to the current Outdoor Dining ordinance include additional clarity, strengthening of enforcement and a means to resolve administration of the ordinance. The two Outdoor Dining ordinances, Sections 9-7007 and 12-2121 of the City code, require a text change for the purpose of revision and modernization.

Recommendation: Authorize a public hearing for June 16, 2015.

Watch the video, it’s short, as City Manager Ruffin Hall explains the ordinance and who it affects. The council did not vote on this and instead moved it to the Law and Public Safety Committee and it’ll be discussed at their June 9 meeting.

The bar owners have definitely come out against this with some that are not affected showing opposition as well. The claim is that the bars spend thousands of dollars on policing and managing their patrons while on the public sidewalks so to not allow it, the city then has to police it. Could there be a liability issue here too? Some think so.

The supporters of this ordinance update argue that the noise levels on Fayetteville Street are already too high and with over 5 new outdoor amplified noise permits recently submitted for Fayetteville Street, the levels will increase. This is a detractor from a vibrant downtown.

I’ve thought about this for a bit and think I’ve formed my opinion on the matter. Like most controversies, both sides may be at an extreme where a compromise should satisfy everyone. Someone shared a photo with me on Twitter that helps the discussion.

That is what a typical Friday or Saturday night looks like in front of a handful of businesses on Fayetteville Street. It’s alive. It’s buzzing. There are people everywhere.

It’s also a side effect of those very large sidewalks we built on “North Carolina’s Main Street.”

Many would agree that having a drink outside is fantastic. I LOVE sitting outside with a beverage. It could be a pint of beer, glass of wine, can of soda, glass of water, it doesn’t matter. Still tastes better outside in my opinion. So remember that drinking outside is fantastic and clearly that is helping businesses thrive on Fayetteville Street.

However, because of our huge sidewalks here and the lack of defined spaces for the public versus a business, the dominant force takes over. The bar patrons are taking over the sidewalks and not allowing the sidewalk to function like a transportation network. You can’t easily walk up and down Fayetteville Street. Forget it when it comes to those in a wheelchair.

I’m not calling anyone out but some do it better than others.

So what’s the middle ground? To disallow businesses from having outdoor seating because they do not serve food shows a lack of understanding of the issue and a failure to work with those owners on an improved solution that benefits everyone. I’d like to think that a vibrant community is one where visitors can flow from place to place with ease.

If you look at the photo embedded above, the problem is the “massing” of people standing outside a bar/restaurant from the front door all the way to the curb. Is this not a safety hazard? How does someone walk through that, especially someone in a wheelchair? What if an emergency happens, won’t this slow down the emergency folks that respond?

A good conversation with bar owners could be around this topic. How can the city and owners create a process to allow a more defined sidewalk seating/entertaining area? The sidewalk must function as transportation just like the street must be clear so vehicles can get through.

We should up our outdoor seating game and let owners set up decorative ropes, umbrellas, awnings, etc. in order to define a space that says, “in this area, you are outside for this bar/restaurant.” That also sends the message that, “being outside of that area, you are not a part of this bar/restaurant, keep moving.”

That’s a much better look than the borderline chaos we have going on with these droves of people congregating outside bars.

The other side of it is enforcement and I expect that to be a big discussion at the committee meeting next week.

Wrapping up, my thinking so far is that defining our public spaces so that there is balance between moving pedestrians (transit network) and outdoor entertainment (drinking. outside. Fantastic!) would benefit everyone without further limitations that the city has to work hard to enforce.

Municipography, City Staff Responds to Downtown Vibrancy and Raleigh Union Station

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.

At last week’s city council meeting, city staff presented a high-level overview of some of the city department’s challenges and positives that our recent growth in downtown Raleigh has created. This is in response to downtown developer Greg Hatem’s comments about the vibrancy in the city center.

Also discussed was Raleigh Union Station and a plan to cover cost increases.

Downtown Activities Update

If the embedded video doesn’t show, jump to the city’s website to watch. It starts at 1:15:22.

From the agenda:

During the January 20, 2015 meeting the City Council heard comments from Greg Hatem (Empire Properties) regarding vibrancy in downtown Raleigh. Staff was directed to prepare a plan evaluating the various elements involved in the growth and increased activity downtown. A presentation will be provided by staff outlining efforts currently underway and proposed next steps to address the issue.

Recommendation: Receive as information.

I really enjoyed this presentation by our city’s staff including City Manager Ruffin Hall’s introduction. Sure, Greg Hatem may have made a claim that downtown Raleigh is “unlivable” but the report shows that there are many factors going on here and his story could be just a small piece of the downtown pie. It seems like staff and the council recognize that collaboration between many entities is necessary to move downtown towards the adopted vision, the one being discussed in the latest downtown plan.

This is why I love downtown. It’s a place with a highly complex fabric of services and uses that should be enjoyed by all Raleigh denizens and visitors through variety and balance.

This conversation questions the downtown Raleigh nightlife and whether it is in balance with the rest of her uses.

From the city’s point of view, there are concerns. If I was in a wheelchair, how would I get across a sidewalk that’s packed with bar patrons? When Fayetteville Street is packed with taxis and cars, how does an emergency vehicle get through to treat someone? Is the trash that’s leftover healthy for our air or water when it runs off? How do you balance all that but not stifle growth and economic development?

In my opinion, these side conversations need to be taken into the new downtown plan and documented. That way current and future city leaders have a reference to work with as downtown grows and new issues are presented. There isn’t one clear cut answer for each challenge but the answer becomes easier when all parties are working together.

Raleigh Union Station Update

If the embedded video doesn’t show, jump to the city’s website to watch. It starts at 1:47:20.

The council unanimously supported spending more money on Raleigh Union Station in order to make up for rising utility costs and property values. Staff did find ways to reduce costs of the project, some being cutting the planned stormwater garden and changing up the platform, in order to keep things moving forward.

Raleigh Union Station rendering