Lately, I’ve been less active on the front-side of the Raleigh House of Connoisseur but have been heads down working with creating a new map. I don’t think I’m finished and honestly, haven’t even started any type of analysis, but I wanted to put an update out there and share something with readers.
I was inspired when I stumbled on this map of Paris, introduced by the tweet shown below. Technically, it was something I wanted to see if I could build for Raleigh but also, it would be interesting to see how the buildings of today have held up. Are we seeing “mass teardowns” as some people think? What other questions might we begin to answer?
I then found the “ingredients” on the city’s open data websites around Raleigh parcel data and using the “year built” field, I starting analyzing over 130,000 pieces of data.
The map I put together shows Raleigh’s existing stock of buildings as of May 2022. It’s important to note that this is a snapshot in time, not buildings constructed over time. For example, if a home built in the 1950s was torn down for a new construction home in 2015, the parcel would show in the 2010s decade, not the 1950s.
Embedded above (or here on YouTube) is the video of Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson presenting some data and observations about crime in Glenwood South for this year. The numbers are up and it’s been leading to concerns from nearby residents and the council overall.
The News and Observer started things off nicely:
The chief showed crime data comparing the 10 months leading up the pandemic and the last 10 months. Since June 2021, there have been 76 weapon violations, including 64 concealed weapon violations. That compares to 16 violations from June 2019 to March 2020.
There also is a sizable increase in traffic-related violations, but Patterson said the department increased enforcement and the number of traffic stops during that time.
Raleigh police chief makes recommendations to address rising crime in Glenwood South via newsobserver.com
The N&O article also has a graphic showing year-to-date (Jan 1 to Mar 20) figures from 2019 to 2022. Drug-related incidents are up as well as larceny and assaults. As expected, there is a dip in 2020 and 2021 due to pandemic restrictions and lockdowns.
Looking at these figures, I just had to see more as data from 2019 to 2022, with a pandemic right in the middle, may not tell us the whole story.
I went to the dataset, showing datapoints from June 2014, and built up my own app with charts and tables. You can dive into that here.
The site I built does the following:
Shows the Glenwood South map and only takes in incidents that occur inside the boundary area
Year-to-date figures for top crime categories from 2015 to 2022
Displays Total Yearly Incidents by top crime categories
Displays Total Yearly Incidents for all crime categories
Pulls data nightly and updates the year-to-date figures
What I’m calling “Top Crime Categories” are the types of crime, as identified by the data, that when summed up, represent about 2/3 of the total incidents. The remainder incident types seem to be so few in occurrence that it’s hard to know if a trend is taking place. I’ll just remove those from the “Top” charts for now.
Top Crime Categories include:
“All Other Offenses”
I guess I could have added up Drugs and Drug Violations but I kept the data “pure” for now. Also, I’m not sure what “All Other Offenses” means exactly so this one might qualify to be ignored. Take it for what it’s worth.
Last thing to point out, I start with 2015 as the dataset starts in the middle of 2014 so a partial year isn’t helping that much. 2015 is great as we get five full years before the pandemic lockdowns took place starting in March 2020.
Indeed, when we look at just the top crime categories as well as all crime categories, the number of incidents has been increasing since 2015. It actually went down in 2018, not by much, but continued on its trajectory in 2019.
Again, the big drop in 2020 is most likely due to the pandemic lockdowns and we can see the recovery in 2021. If we remove 2020, some items to note:
number of assault, larceny, and weapons incidents have increased
number of vandalism and drugs are more of less the same
“all other offenses” has gone down
I’m not sure we can figure out what’s going on but there are some things to note. Consider that since 2015, more development has taken place. The number of residents have increased and the number of restaurants and bars opened has increased.
Does increased food and beverage sales lead to more crime? Not necessarily but if we think for a moment that there are more people in Glenwood South, leading to more F&B sales, we could argue that more people in a district could lead to more crime. The above figures show a 29% growth in F&B sales from 2015 to 2021 for Glenwood South. In addition:
From 2015 to 2021, Glenwood South had an 18% increase in crime incidents overall
From 2015 to 2021, Glenwood South had a 36% increase in TOP crime incidents
The real comparison, saved for a later post most likely, is to compare this activity with other districts.
The app tracking the data runs nightly so if you want to check back later this year to see how we’re doing, you can do just that. Here’s the snapshot up until April 12, 2022.
Year-to-date figures are pretty much in-line with everything stated above so I’ll leave it right there.
The police chief had some suggestions to try and curb this increase in incidents including adding metal detectors at bars as well as changing Glenwood Avenue to a one-way street to keep car traffic flowing more smoothly. A catastrophic incident is not something anyone wants so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the trends.
We’ll see if any changes come from the city to try and smooth down these numbers. What I really want to see is a comparison of this activity and the number of incidents to other areas to get a sense of context. That’s a post for later this year perhaps.
I have a soft spot for Nash Square. It’s an urban oasis with city views throughout the winter, leafless months but then becomes an umbrella during the warmer months. It’s also where I got married so there’s that.
Nash Square is more of a ceremonial park rather than one for play and big events. The firefighter’s memorial in the center generates a feeling of pause and reflection. Also, I can’t name a better spot for an outdoor lunch on a park bench than here. It’s just lovely.
While Nash Square isn’t changing any time soon, the blocks around it have some big plans or construction underway. Nash Square bridges the Warehouse District with the Fayetteville Street District. There’s plenty of topics to look at here that I had to map it out. (as I do)
Let’s look at the eight blocks around Nash Square in a clockwise order.
Block #1: Raleigh Municipal Block
The municipal block, or city government block, has the current city council chambers and the Raleigh Municipal Building, shown above. It’s more or less the center of the city government offices and there are big plans for a new municipal campus on this block.
A multi-phased project to put larger towers on the site in order to consolidate the offices of our city’s government has been in planning for a few years. This would most likely see the demolition of the building above and the former Police Headquarters, now empty, next door.
I’ll leave it there but will drop this link to the city’s website for more information. The site lists construction starting in “Late 2022/early 2023”. raleighnc.gov/projects/civic-campus
Block #2: AT&T Building
There are no updates on this block. The AT&T building facing the square has a real nice mural but for the most part, this block is business as usual. I don’t expect much from this block with most of it being the AT&T infrastructure building, First Presbyterian Church, and nice, two-story retail buildings dating from the early 1900s.
Block #3: The Nexus
To the east of Nash Square is the former location of the News & Observer. The Nexus was a multi-tower development planned for this sizeable property but the timing may have been unfortunate as the 2019 plans seemed to be put on hold due to the pandemic.
In March 2022, a rezoning request for the same property was approved, to increase the height limits from the current 20 up to the next allowable limit of 40. (see Z-43-2021, pdf link) Perhaps this suggest even grander plans from the developer? We’ll have to wait and see.
Block #4: Wake County Offices
No plans here, just Wake County office buildings including courtrooms and jail spaces as part of the Wake County Justice Center. The latter being a pretty nice building actually. I love those art deco fins lit up at night.
Block #5: Hotels Incoming
To the south of Nash Square, within the sounds and smells of Whiskey Kitchen, there are three lots worth mentioning. The first has a big crane over it today as a dual-brand hotel is coming soon. A Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites hotel is planned to open next year.
On the opposite corner, we have an empty lot for another planned hotel. Demolition of buildings took place in early 2020 and the lot has sat empty ever since. However, a rezoning is in underway for this lot (see Z-12-2022, pdf link) to increase the height limits from the current 20 stories to the next allowable limit of 40. That likely means construction won’t happen this year as new development plans may be in the works.
Finally, the third lot is the former Firestone lot. It too went through a rezoning in 2021 to increase the allowable height from 20 to 40. (see Z-24-2021, pdf link)
Block 6: Warehouse district historic
The block of 300 West Martin Street is the Warehouse District gem. I feel that without it, there’s just no point in using that name anymore. There are no projects underway but another rezoning is worth watching.
Former plans to build a residential tower behind the buildings shown above haven’t materialized. However, rezoning Z-78-2021 (pdf link) asks for more height and includes conditions to keep the buildings above. The developments are more for the surface parking lots behind the old warehouse buildings. This seems like a nice mix of uses so we’ll see how it goes if the rezoning is approved later this year.
Block #7 and #8: Highwoods Bets on Parking
The block to the west of Nash Square is mostly a mish-mash of surface lots and short buildings. From the square, the Park Devereux condos are the standard for park-side views. I love that building. As for the rest of the block, it’s mostly the same as it was ten years ago.
One exception is the demolition of buildings on the northwest corner for a surface parking lot. Highwoods properties owns this lot and as is their style, they love to sit on parking lots in urban areas.
There are other rezoning cases in place but I’ll punt this one to a July 2021 post that covers this piece of the Warehouse District more in depth.
I’m kind of piggybacking off a post from two weeks ago but either way, I decided to dive deeper into Seaboard Station this week. There’s a lot of moving parts there with a project under construction as well as plans making their way through the approval process for more development. Consider this post a quick catch up and overview of the northern side of Downtown Raleigh.
As always, we’re following Seaboard Station in-depth on the Community, thread is here, so lurk as much as you want but all are welcome to join the conversation.
For me, it’s got to start with a map and I’ve doctored up one such map that I think will help show where we’re at here.
It’s also important to list out what we’re talking about as well as what we are NOT talking about. The map above, modified from the Seaboard Station website itself, shows five key components as to the future development of Seaboard Station. Let’s put a chart together.
What’s There Now
Former Sunflower’s location has been demolished. Empty lot today
Hotel, Apartments, Retail
Currently under construction
Hotel, Apartments, Retail
Restaurants and Retail including Galatea, Night Kitchen, and Marigold Parlour
Hotel, Apartments, Retail
Restaurants and Retail including Ace Hardware, O2 Fitness, and Peace China
Logan’s Garden Shop
Rezoning request in progress
As of this writing, these are the only properties we’re talking about. What’s NOT included is the single-story retail strip with shops like Mon Macaron, Hunky Dory, and Sola Salon as well as the Shell gas Station that faces Peace Street. There are also some smaller buildings and lots that are either owned by others or next door William Peace University. There are no plans for those properties as of this writing.
Block A kind of started things off in 2018 after the sale of Seaboard Station from nearby William Peace University to a developer. Plans included a hotel and apartments, which the website still states is the case. Construction hasn’t started on that however as the pandemic of 2020 made new development take a pause. What was a more solid bet, and still is, was housing which made Block B, with plans for only apartments, more attractive.
I’m speculating here but that seems to be what’s happening now. The former location of Sunflower’s was demolished and Block A is basically a storage yard for nearby construction.
Block B is close to topping out. About 300 apartments with ground-floor retail should open later this year. This is the first development of the new era of Seaboard Station. The units on the east side looking at the university should have a nice view.
Block C and Block D
Block C and D are still in the planning phases. I got nothing on Block D as the attention has mostly gone to the other areas.
Site plans have been submitted (see ASR-0033-2021, pdf link) to the city for Block C showing another apartment over retail building with around 220 units. However, there is still active retail on this block. I’m hoping that spaces in Block B are offered and time is given to the local businesses to move over.
Logan’s Garden Shop
Logan’s has hit the news recently with an announcement of moving their business in the future. This is a “years from now” announcement and no changes will take place soon. However, in the background, the developer has filed for a rezoning. (see Z-5-22, pdf link) The current zoning has a seven-story heigh limit and the owners want to increase that to 20.
The local controversy here is the train depot building that once served the Seaboard rail line. The new development suggests the replacement of this building. However, no site plans have been submitted as the rezoning really dictates what can be built here or not. It’s my understanding that the building has no historic status and therefore can be demolished today, rezoning approval or not.
At the same time though, the building is in great shape from what I can see and would be a nice touch to an area that will mostly feature “by-the-book” 5-over-1 generic buildings.
The Logan’s property is mostly surface lots around the station including the train canopy and yards that currently serve the garden shop. New development would be a significant boost to the area. Building massings, such as the one below, are being worked on but no definitive plans have been put out there.
I tend to take the contrarian route on most “historic preservation” issues. I say we give them all the height allowances with the stipulation that the station must be preserved. At the same time, if hundreds more residential units or office spaces are built at the expense of the station then I won’t cry over that. I see no way Downtown Raleigh loses here.
Seaboard Station, a glorified shopping center really, is going through an urban transition. The residential units are welcome, especially at a time when there’s a housing crunch in Raleigh, and I can’t think of any better way to make urban retail work then to stack hundreds of residents on top and around you. That’s really what the downtown Raleigh of the future looks like to me.
You can also insert a lengthy argument about putting tall buildings around future transit lines here which I’ll save for another day.
Seaboard Station is on the path for more people spaces with less car spaces. I think this future Seaboard is going to look great.
This week, the Raleigh City Council voted to remove all parking minimums for new developments across the entire city. This extends a previous parking reduction that was done in 2020 that mainly affected the downtown area. You can watch the discussion and vote in the embedded video above or directly on YouTube here.
It is worth reiterating that parking is not banned city-wide. It only removes the minimums required and, generally speaking, allows new projects to choose the amount of parking to be built. In some cases, there are maximums in place.
From what I’m seeing, right now new buildings in downtown are building above the minimums anyway. In the future, as transit options come online and our city adds more people, those who prefer to travel car-light or even car-less will benefit from a city that doesn’t dedicate so much space to parking vehicles.
Indeed, climate impacts and sustainability is a big driver of this change, as written out in the text change itself.
SUMMARY OF IMPACTS
Adoption of TC-11-21 would:
1. Because it removes subsidies and incentives for car ownership (because rent typically does not vary depending on whether a car is stored on a property or not, so there is no extra cost for car ownership) it would tend to reduce vehicle miles traveled and associated air pollution and carbon emissions.
2. Mitigate the climate change, stormwater, and other impacts created by large areas of paved parking.
3. Tend to reduce the cost of housing and goods and services by requiring less land to be used for vehicle storage. It would prevent households without cars from paying for parking they do not use.
4. Potentially lead to increased demand for on-street parking in some locations. If issues arise, excessive demand can be addressed through the creation of new residential parking permit areas, adjusting on-street parking pricing, and providing additional public parking.
From a sustainability and land-use point-of-view, I think it’s great to address problems of having too little parking on a case-by-case basis (point #4) rather than the problems of having to much. Well managed on-street parking programs are common in larger cities and it’s probably time Raleigh get into that game.
The change is a great, incremental step in the right direction and it’ll take time for the city to adjust. The next step will be to give Raleighites a transit system that allows for all of us to get around while putting less miles on our cars. That kind of Raleigh may lead to shorter buildings (less floors for parking), more destinations closer together, and more vitality to neighborhoods.
Today, I have a guest post by a fellow Raleigh content creator. Jed Byrne loves Raleigh, especially its people and places. He tries to engage with both on a daily basis. Jed tweets about spaces and places at @Oakcitycre, hosts the Dirt NC podcast, and sends a weekly development newsletter through www.OakCityCRE.com. He always enjoys connecting with new people, so reach out on social or via email at email@example.com.
For Raleigh to maintain and grow its reputation as a city of innovation, it’s important for us to experiment with dynamic parking pricing. I can think of no better place to pilot experimental parking than The Village District! But first, I think it’s important to share a bit of history.
If you have any questions about this post or have any Village District parking stories to share, hit me up on twitter at @OakCityCRE!
History of Innovation
The Village District has been an innovator since the beginning. Built in 1949, it was one of the first shopping centers in the country designed for the automobile age. In fact, the Village District was inspired by Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, the first center of its kind in the country!
Parking at The Village District
In all of my time here in Raleigh the congested parking situation at The Village District hasn’t kept people away. As Yogi Berra said “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”
In order to improve the shopping experience at the Village District and increase sales, there are really only two options that the landlord can control when it comes to parking. They can increase the number of parking spaces, or increase the number of people who use the existing spaces per hour. It turns out that expanding the number of parking spaces at The Village District has already been tried. According to WRAL a parking deck lived at The Village District for 40 years!
The Original Parking Innovation
Originally built in the 1960s, the deck was demolished in 2005. You can see the original structure below in this satellite images from March 2002.
There was also a parking structure where the Berkshire Village District Apartments now stand at the corner of Oberlin Road and Clark Avenue.
I couldn’t find many historical images of the parking deck, but my friend Ian Dunn shared the following photo from 1992 of the parking structure undergoing some demolition work.
The demolition work above must have been for a modification because the second layer of parking stood for another 13 years.
In all my years of studying the built environment, this is the only case where I have heard of structured parking being removed from a project. From a practical standpoint, I am glad they removed the parking deck, though I never got to experience the deck first-hand. I think one of the main attractions to the Village District is the open air feel, which would have been hampered by structured parking. I am sure that the decision to remove parking wasn’t easy. Today a structured parking space costs $25,000-$35,000, roughly 5x the cost of a surface parking space.
Since adding supply didn’t make things better at The Village District, I think the time has finally come to address the congestion caused by “free” parking, once and for all.
In the book The High Cost of Free Parking by Donald Shoup, you can learn all about how “free to you” parking spaces actually have a lot of costs. For starters, there are the indirect costs of construction and maintenance that are paid by the tenants. Those costs are ultimately passed through to the customers who must cover the cost of the tenants rent.
There are also non-financial costs: the stress of congestion, the time and the environmental impacts of circling the lot looking for parking, and the induced demand for driving to shop in the first place.
The costs of “free parking” are ultimately paid by all shoppers, whether they drive or not, and even whether they spend money at the shopping center or not.
The Village District has been a place of innovation from the start. Its designers innovated what the shopping center looked like when they designed one of the first automobile-centric centers. Its owners innovated both by installing and ultimately demolishing the structured parking. I think it’s now time to innovate again.
Using a platform like Passport, which is already used by the City of Raleigh, The Village District could start charging for parking in a way that ensured there would almost always be available spaces in the parking lot. Because parking demand changes over time, the Passport pricing structure could increase and decrease as well. At lunch, nights, weekends, and holidays, pricing would increase.
These higher prices would encourage shoppers to only stay for the time they need to, and would also ensure that parking was always available. With more efficient use of parking and higher customer turnover the overall sales revenue would increase. Plus, if people knew they always had a place to park at The Village District, more people would come and shop!
So, what do you think? Would you pay – directly – to park at The Village District if it guaranteed you’d be able to find a spot quickly? I would!
Let me know what you think or share any Village District Parking stories by tweeting me at @OakCityCRE!
Wow. I’ve certainly done plenty of blog birthdays but now at year 15, it feels a little special. Sure it’s a typical milestone to celebrate for a lot things. Maybe not as worthy as the ten-year post, I really liked that one by the way, but I wanted to try a little reset and reflection today. For the new followers in the room, and long-time readers, let’s start at the beginning as I (re)introduce myself.
My name is Leo Suarez and I am a downtown Raleigh resident. I started this website in January 2007 and wrote about all kinds of things including development, city council meetings, urban planning, new restaurants, and a few other topics. The focus though was, and has always been, downtown Raleigh.
While my job and hobbies are pretty typical, I am 100% dedicated to an urban lifestyle as much as Raleigh can provide me. The meaning of urban lifestyle certainly has evolved over the 15 years that I have been running this blog as well as the younger brother site, the DTRaleigh Community, but one core principle seems to be the same.
The social component in and around downtown has stood up for these 15 years and I believe it will always be a concrete principle in pretty much all aspects to downtown experiences.
I have been pro-resident from day one since I moved into my apartment as a fresh, single college-graduate on Fayetteville Street in December 2006. Now, living in a house east of Moore Square, married, with a young daughter, there’s certainly a new dynamic for some things but being social is what differentiates this area compared to the rest of the city.
And that’s what I’m here for. It’s all about people and the interactions we have between these collections of buildings. It’s quite nice to be honest.
Let’s be Social!
Speaking of socializing, a group of us meet up every second Thursday of the month, organized on our Meetup page, and I hope you can come out to the February meetup. Come say hi, there’s no agenda.
All the buildings and roads make up the playground for socializing humans. It’s a visual feast of treats from people watching to the variety of architecture.
Downtown residents are certainly a small group. The Downtown Raleigh Alliance says there are 21,000 residents within a mile-radius. That’s less than 5% of the total population of the city. It’s growing though for sure as it seems every year, hundreds of new apartments, townhomes, or condos are opening up. New residents keep coming. (Welcome by the way!)
But beyond residents, downtown plays host to visitors. For work or play, people spend time here and they are socializing to a certain degree. That’s probably why we get folks from all over Raleigh, and beyond, at our meetups and commenting on the Community. Downtown seems to be for more than just those that live here.
Socializing in downtown is probably assumed to mean eating or drinking in any of the numerous bars or restaurants here. That’s typical for sure but there’s even more. Coffee shops, records stores, grocery stores, hair salons, and office lobbies. The more time you put into it the more social it gets.
For me, people watching and random encounters have been very memorable and it’s almost addictive to be around.
Last, there’s the sidewalk. I’ve walked all over, snapping photos for the blog, for years and the sidewalk is like the nerve center of downtown Raleigh. I read it somewhere so can’t take credit for this but people attract people. Simply put, the idea of walkable mixed-use areas is always attractive, whether it be for business, for recreation, or something else. That’s why it was copied in the shopping malls of the 20th century, like at Crabtree Valley Mall, and it’s being copied right now in North Hills and other developments in our area suburbs.
15 years feels long enough to notice plenty of trends but still young enough that I need to wait and see if these trends stand the test of time. I’ll be betting on people and their desire to socialize being a driving-force for downtown Raleigh for years to come.
Here’s to being social, past, present, and future! Happy 15! See you out there.
An easy thing to notice from following developments, not being in the industry by the way, is that a lot of planning goes into all these things. It’s probably an underappreciated aspect of building larger structures but of course it is; there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. When it all starts to come together and construction starts, that’s when it feels real.
In just a few short weeks, new tower cranes have popped up in downtown. We’re still building stuff and that’s great for downtown’s vitality and future. Investments continue and that’s a sign for optimism for downtown Raleigh. Let’s recap the things we can actually see being built right now.
Hilton Garden Inn/Homewood Suites
Shown in the foreground of the above photo, a new hotel is coming to the corner of McDowell and Davie Streets. The building will have two brands which include a Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites. That’s 259 additional rooms within walking distance to Fayetteville Street, the Raleigh Convention Center, and the Warehouse District.
The Hampton Inn on Glenwood is Hilton’s first presence into downtown Raleigh so this would make it their second offering. I imagine a variety of brands is great to see. Plus, another rooftop bar option isn’t bad either.
400H for short, the tower crane at 400 Hillsborough was met with lots of excitement on the Community when it went up around Thanksgiving 2021. 400H is a true, mixed-use project with office, retail, and 242 apartments in a 20-story building.
For new office space to be built, I just can’t emphasize enough the optimism for downtown Raleigh here. Not everyone is working from home all the time and I believe innovation and creativity takes place more easily in-person.
The residential portion makes sense to me as downtown Raleigh is near capacity as far as residents go. We should be seeing the building open up in late 2023.
A crane is up on East Cabarrus to build Platform, a new residential building for over 430 units. That’s downtown’s largest complex yet!
Playing off the proximity to Raleigh Union Station, the building will have an excellent view of the rail lines going through the Boylan Wye including the station itself. Train-themed designs will probably be used to give it that modern warehouse feel.
Already well into construction, Seaboard Station‘s first new building in a long time will be Block B, a 298-unit apartment building. In addition to ground-floor retail, this building starts a multi-project overhaul of Seaboard Station itself. There are plans for more residents and hotel units for Seaboard in the future so what once was a district of shopping may grow into a much more active district on downtown’s northern end.
You can check out what’s planned at Seaboard Station here.
Not quite crane-worthy, or at least not yet, but dirt, concrete, and wood is being moved at a few other spots in downtown. We’re keeping our eyes on a few other spots as well.
Seems like the name of the game is all about residents. In this post, I’ve mentioned projects that will deliver over 1,000 homes that are currently being built in downtown Raleigh. My long-time hope is that retail truly follows rooftops and downtowners can then support a thriving shopping scene.