Browsing Through The Latest Civic Campus Master Plan

The city has posted the latest version of the master plan for the downtown civic campus. This would involve a significant update to the municipal buildings to the north of Nash Square. Over time, it’s possible that the existing buildings will all be demolished and up to 20-story towers for city workers will be built on this block.

Jump into the plan (pdf doc) here on the city’s website.

The Avery C. Upchurch block, or municipal block as I’m calling it, consists of the former Raleigh Police Headquarters building, the Raleigh municipal building (RMB) currently in use, and a 3-story parking deck. The police HQ is currently vacant and we’ve outgrown the RMB to the point where extensive maintenance is needed in the next few years.

From the executive summary in the master plan:

The future Raleigh Civic Campus will be a mixed-use, walkable destination consisting of a New City Hall with public-facing government functions, expanded municipal departmental space, and pedestrian-connected public spaces. Other land uses may be arranged around the campus, including urban retail, commercial office, housing, and a combination of below-grade and structured parking. The total potential of the Civic Campus is approximately 2.2 million gross square feet, excluding underground parking and services. The full build-out of the campus is dependent upon the execution of several capital projects over three phases and employing a suite of delivery methods, including City-owned and managed development, private capital-led development, and potentially a collaborative public-private partnership.

The full implementation of the campus will take place over 3 phases, generally broken down into these projects:

  • Phase 1 – The East Building: Demolish the Police HQ and build a 20-story office tower for approximately 1,400 staff, public-facing functions, and Council Chambers, as well as potential ground floor retail.
  • Phase 2 – The West Building: Demolish the RMB and tentatively plan for an up to 20-story office tower, the twin to the East Building. A public plaza between the two towers will tie the two sites together.
  • Phase 3 – Mixed-Use Development: Demolish the municipal parking deck and allow for up to 20-story private development.

The additional space on this campus will be for current workers who are spread across downtown as well as new hires in the future. The civic campus aims to consolidate offices and bring together departments as a way to make the campus more secure and more customer-friendly in a cost-conscious manner.

The master plan lays out the costs of doing nothing and just maintaining buildings and the difference is in the tens of millions of dollars. See page 18 for more details.

As each department continues to grow, accommodation of the City’s expanding workforce in an organized and fiscally responsible manner will become increasingly difficult. City staff has conservatively estimated the need to invest more than $245 Million (in today’s dollars) over the next 30 years just to maintain the status quo.

The master plan really focuses on delivering the needs of the city for the next 30-40 years between these two towers, the East Building, and West Building. (Phases 1 and 2) Mixed-use development through collaboration with a private developer for phase 3 isn’t quite set in stone, which makes sense. It’s a good opportunity to provide something that’s needed on the northern end of the block such as housing or hospitality but those needs haven’t been identified just yet.

There’s plenty of opportunities to build as the entire block is zoned DX-20-SH, or downtown mixed-use with a 20-story height limit, shopfront design. This is significantly mroe dense than what we have today.

With a much larger presence here on the municipal block, the civic campus becomes a destination and should help connect downtown districts. This is touched on more in the master plan where the design team has thought about connecting it along the east-west streets of Morgan and Hargett from the Warehouse District to Fayetteville Street. Nash Square should not feel isolated from the campus but rather become an extension.

This makes pedestrians number one along Hargett Street and the public plaza must emphasize that. Taking cues from the 2015 Downtown Plan, this vision supports Hargett Street having an attractive and livelier streetscape.

The master plan continues with details about a central gathering space and plaza within the site and possible uses for the mixed-use portion on the northern half. The examples from other cities are helpful in visualizing what is possible so I encourage readers to check it out.

I’m very happy with what’s in this master plan and feel it’s got all the right elements put together for this area. In my opinion, some points really need to be hammered home once the city gets into the details. I would want to really emphasize the need to make the municipal buildings along Hargett welcoming and engaged with the sidewalk rather than being stale, public buildings.

The SECU tower is a good example of how a modern tower can engage the sidewalk, provide outdoor spaces for gathering and mix it with retail. (if they had any so I have to pretend) The county’s justice center seems to have missed the mark with their monolithic presence along Martin Street and their foreboding main entrance along Salisbury. (I love the art deco look from afar though)

I’d love to see Hargett Street get the “City Plaza” treatment. Between the East and West buildings and Nash Square, let’s create an even street separated with bollards (trees?) where pedestrians and vehicles are on an equal plane. Transparency through the ground-floor of these sites all the way to Nash Square might just give you that park-like feeling even if you’re a block away.

Retail spaces along Hargett should be plentiful since there is only space on one side. I’d like to see the city take a less traditional approach to it also. For example, businesses may not be clamoring for space here right away so as spaces are empty, pop-up concepts should be welcomed. That approach can help new businesses kickstart themselves and down the road, move on to a more established home nearby or elsewhere in Raleigh.

With phase 3 being so far out, it’s probably best to comment on that piece down the road. This project will be fun to watch and I’m hoping for something that Raleigh can be proud of.

Options on the Table For New City Hall Tower

Raleigh Municipal Building. June 2018.

Raleigh Municipal Building. June 2018.

During a March 27, 2018 meeting of the Economic Development and Innovation (EDI) Committee, there were some good details discussed over the future Civic Campus Master Plan. I wanted to bring out some details from the meeting minutes here today.

You can watch the video of the meeting on YouTube here or embedded below.

To quickly recap, the city is currently working on a master plan to possibly redevelop city hall as well as offload various city-owned property in and around downtown Raleigh. The point would be to consolidate the downtown workforce as well as expand for projected growth. The epicenter of the project would be on the block consisting of the Raleigh Municipal Building (RMB) and former police headquarters. (Basically the Avery C. Upchurch Municipal block)

You can dive straight into the minutes here. Some additional relevant reading:

First, let’s take a look at the municipal block today. There are three main structures:

  1. Fomer Raleigh Police Headquarters, currently empty
  2. Raleigh Municpal Building with offices and City Council Chambers
  3. A parking deck

With the city owning the entire block, it’s basically agreed that the new campus will consist of new development there.

The civic campus is assumed to include the following departments:

  • Services in the newly-formed Departments of Transportation and Engineering Services
  • Development-related functions, including the Departments of City Planning, Development Services, and the Office of Economic Development
  • Housing and Neighborhoods and some staff from Public Utilities Department
  • Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources administration
  • Public Affairs
  • Internal service functions, including Information Technology, Human Resources, Finance, and Budget and Management Services
  • Management departments including the City Manager’s Office, City Attorney, and City Clerk

With internal conversations and surveys, the consultants found that a conservative 1.5% city staff growth rate would be appropriate to ensure that any new buildings would be useful for 30 to 50 years after being built.

But before we get into what can be built, the “do nothing” scenario was considered. The cost to maintain current buildings and continue to lease space as growth is needed over the next 30 years will cost around $200 million dollars. $80 million would go towards maintenance of current facilities with an estimated $120-160 million going towards leasing space.

The Build Scenarios

Buiding a new tower presents a few options that allow the city to be more flexible in the future.

With the RMB offering some flexibility, it would be possible to extend the life of that building while still putting downtown workers into a new one. There are three scenarios on the table. (emphasis is mine)

Option #1: 20 stories (above capacity)

  • 420,000 s.f.
  • Capacity*(at 300 gsf/person): 1,400 ppl
  • Full capacity by 2037 (14 years) at 1.5% growth rate
  • Full capacity by 2032 at (9 years) at 2.0% growth rate
  • Estimated cost: ~$190 million
  • Effective rent over 30 years: $15.08/sf
  • RMB can be vacated

Option #2: 17 stories +/- (at capacity)

  • 360,000 s.f.
  • Capacity* (at 300 gsf/person): 1,200 ppl
  • Full capacity by 2027 (4 years) at 1.5% growth rate
  • Full capacity by 2024 (1 year) at 2.0% growth rate
  • Estimated cost: ~$165 million
  • Effective rent over 30 years: $15.27/sf
  • RMB can be vacated

Option #3: 14 stories +/- (below capacity)

  • 300,000 s.f.
  • Capacity* (at 300 gsf/person): 1,000 ppl
  • 40,000 s.f. deficit at move-in with 1.5% growth rate
  • 50,000 s.f. deficit at move-in with 2.0% growth rate
  • Estimated Cost: ~$140 million
  • Effective rent over 30 years: $15.55/sf
  • *Capacity does not include Phase II (RMB or new facility).

Options 1 and 2 allow the RMB to be vacated and therefore, avoid maintenance and upfit costs. If option 3 is pursued, then outside space will still be needed whether it is within the RMB or elsewhere. RMB then presents a $40M renovation cost.

That’s as far into the details as I’d like to get into it, please take a look at the minutes and watch the video if you want more. I’m sure this will be an ongoing discussion within the EDI committee.

It’ll be interesting to see where they go with these options but either way, the options to build a new consolidated tower sound like a cost-effective option compared to leasing space across downtown Raleigh.

Join the discussion about the Civic Campus Master Plan on our DTRaleigh Community.

A Walk Down South West Street

Looking South down South West Street.

Looking South down South West Street. January 2018.

As a compliment to a 2016 post on North West Street, today I wanted to take a look down South West Street. West Street through downtown is becoming an important corridor and from one end to the other, there are projects taking place that may make it a pretty desirable street in the future.

In case you weren’t aware, the directional prefixes for streets running north and south start at Hillsborough Street (west of the Capitol) and New Bern Avenue. (East of the Capitol) Hence, we start our walk at Hillsborough Street.

New developments and businesses are great but we always have to give a nod to the old favorites that have been threw a lot. I want to give a quick shout out to The Roast Grill, having been at this spot on 7 South West Street since 1940.

Photo of The Roast Grill.

The Roast Grill, open since 1940.

Will they make it to a hundred years? Time will tell but I certainly am pulling for them. The TBJ has an article (subscription required) that suggests they aren’t selling out. However, the pressure may rise as nearby developments take shape.

Heading towards the 100 block of South West brings us to the Morgan Street Food Hall. Food halls are a trend that’s happening around the country and Morgan Street will be our first (first, right?) food hall in recent memory. Plan for them to open this Spring.

Construction continues on Morgan Street Food Hall

Construction continues on Morgan Street Food Hall. January 2018.

Citrix employees should be food connoisseurs after that place opens.

The food hall will also get a nice infusion of nearby residents from the residential portion of The Dillon. Residents should be moving in this year and the developer has already landed a few restaurants and retail for the ground-floor spaces. Announced so far, we have:

And there’s plenty of space for more.

The residential units of The Dillon on South down South West Street.

The residential units of The Dillon on South down South West Street. January 2018.

As you walk by the residential units of The Dillon along the 200 block, there’s a sharp contrast between the life that will soon pop here and the still empty warehouse building on the west side. Plans have seemed to come and go for this huge warehouse.

Another Citrix-like rehab could be a decent proposal for this site as it has a large-footprint but hopefully a more mixed-use repurpose can be done. At this time, no plans have been announced.

The office portion of The Dillon.

Looking up at the office spaces at The Dillon. January 2018.

The end of the block approaches the office tower portion of The Dillon and Raleigh Union Station.

West and Martin Street will be a cool intersection I think. The Dillon’s 18 floors will draw activity here during the work days and the retail spaces, CAM, and Union Station will fill in the off hours a bit. I think it’ll feel lively and offer great views towards the downtown core.

Some warehouses nearby are also getting some renovation love. Father and Son’s newest location, the former Flanders Gallery, and the next-door neighbor have visible signs of upkeep.

Union Station is set to open early this year and I think you’ll see a small uptick in visitors as people from all over will come down to check it out. I remember when Fayetteville Street first opened in 2007 and on the first Sunday night after opening (when everything was closed) the street was jammed with cars filled with curiosity.

I think the same thing will happen this year.

Looking at Raleigh Union Station from West Street

Looking at Raleigh Union Station from West Street. January 2018.

Renovated warehouse along West Street.

Renovated warehouses along West Street. January 2018.

New train platform that will serve Raleigh Union Station

New train platform that will serve Raleigh Union Station. January 2018.

At this point, West Street ends but my walk does not.

The city is studying plans to make West Street tunnel beneath the train tracks and connect to itself at Cabarrus Street. The street currently goes below the tracks and turns into the Union Station parking lot so some of the work is already done.

Looking at Raleigh Union Station and The Dillon over West Street

Looking at Raleigh Union Station and The Dillon over West Street. January 2018. Click for larger.

Next to Raleigh Station, you can see how the grid is still aligned and the West Street tunnel would make the grid connect.

West Street across the train tracks

West Street across the train tracks

At Cabarrus, there is the old Raleigh Station, waiting to be demolished sometime this year. The future of this property is still up in the air as Amtrak services and offices will relocate into Union Station.

The 500 block of South West transitions us from the warehouse district into a more residential area.

Condos are planned at the corner of West and Lenoir. The Fairweather plans 45-units in a five-story, modern building. Construction hasn’t started just yet but the announcement of the project claims an early 2019 opening.

Worth mentioning again, one Raleighite has an idea to save two houses on this block of West. When pitched at a city council meeting in December, the idea didn’t fly with some councilors due to the fact that he sits on the city’s planning commission.

Old homes along West Street, planned for demolition.

Old homes along West Street, planned for demolition.

There is a risk of losing these homes that well represent Raleigh’s former Fourth Ward neighborhood, and in addition a plan to offer some affordable housing unless something happens in the near future. Jump back to the full story on this here.

At the corner of West and Lenoir, across from the future Fairweather project, is an old gas station that is planned to be renovated for a restaurant. No work seems to be taking place on the exterior at the moment so perhaps it’s all inside work right now.

Service station with plans for a restaurant.

Service station with plans for a restaurant at the corner of Lenoir and West Streets. January 2018.

Along the 600 block of West, the townhomes called West + Lenoir are wrapping up. These are some of the earliest townhomes to be completed in this area as nearby Fourth Ward and 611 West South have not really begun yet.

West + Lenoir Townhomes

West + Lenoir townhomes. January 2018.

West Street ends at South Street and so does our walk.

Along South, more demolition and construction is taking place as the area turns over. The South Street Market was just recently demolished and the storage facility has recently topped out.

Click here to view the map on Google.

Now that we’re familiar with West Street, I’d like to zoom out a bit. Above is a map of South West Street with highlighted locations from this post. In my opinion, the momentum behind Dix Park and downtown Raleigh put the affordable housing units of Heritage Park in the crosshairs.

I just can’t imagine the investment of over $10 million for a West Street tunnel, “bridging” just two blocks into downtown, is worth it if there was not some other driving force behind it.

When you look at it on a map, there’s no denying the temptation to push West further south, maybe even trying to connect it to Lake Wheeler. That would be a great downtown connection to Dix Park. With current politics, pushing aside Heritage Park wouldn’t be popular. However, from a strictly planning point-of-view, it’s worth a look.

I’m not advocating it. I do think there might be plans for a major road shakeup in this area in the next 3-5 years.

The end of South West Street at South Street.

The end of South West Street at South Street. January 2018.

Either way, West Street will continue to grow and play an important role for downtown in the coming years.

Revisiting The Downtown Plan’s Glenwood Green Project Area

View from the upper floors of the West at North Tower. Photo credit Robert Winchester

View looking north from the upper floors of the West at North Tower. Photo credit Robert Winchester.

There has been a lot to follow around the Smokey Hollow area of Glenwood South. The reader-submitted photo above shows another view of all the demolition that has taken place. The “Glenwood Green” area has basically been wiped clean and will be rebuilt over the coming years.

The term Glenwood Green comes from the 2015 downtown Raleigh plan and I thought this a good time to see if the planned developments are in line with what was envisioned for the area.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • Peace (formerly Smokey Hollow) – 400 unit residential tower with ground-floor retail at the corner of Peace and West Street. A Publix grocery store has been announced so far.
  • Directly to the south, the same developers have bought land for a phase 2 mixed-use project.
  • Smokey Hollow. Courtesy of Cline Design.

    Latest rendering of the development for Peace and West

    By the way, the name of the development may have changed from Smokey Hollow to Peace but this blog will always recognize this area and basically any new developments going forward as part of Smokey Hollow.

    Let’s map it all. I like this one from Raleigh DLA.

    Map of planned developments in Smokey Hollow

    Glenwood Green Vision

    The Glenwood Green vision as part of the 2015 downtown plan so far is coming along. Granted, not much “green” has been planned in this area but once the Capital Boulevard bridge project (the square loop) is finished in 2019, the city can deliver that green with a planned Devereux Meadows Park north of Peace Street.

    Here’s the two-page overview of the Glenwood Green vision.
    Glenwood Green project area - 2015 Downtown Plan

    Click for larger

    The vision overview behind Glenwood Green wants Harrington Street to be a new “main street” for the area. This should be where the majority of retail is located and the planning folks have shown us this in their latest update of retails streets in the 2030 Comprehensive Plan.

    Harrington Street has the opportunity to be the gateway from the Devereux Meadows Park through Smokey Hollow and into the Warehouse District.

    Notice that Kane Realty has projects at both ends of this street. (All the Smokey Hollow work + The Dillon) Not a coincidence I’m thinking here.

    Public Space and Greenway Connections

    What still isn’t being talked about is the idea of a central plaza in Smokey Hollow to really give this area a sense of place. In addition, a greenway or urban cycle track connecting parts north and south would run through this area with this public space being the central hub.

    The vision in the downtown plan proposes a civic building and plaza but something else could work to make it into a destination. A park could also serve as a meeting place and destination.

    When you add up the plans for a greenway through Devereux Meadows, the city experimenting with a cycle-track along West Street, and connectivity from the Warehouse District to Dix Park, you can really see how important Smokey Hollow is to north/south connectivity through downtown Raleigh.

    If you look at the latest map of the Raleigh Greenway system, there’s a core loop around downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods. We still don’t have that middle section that cuts through it. The Glenwood Green vision supports this major connection.

    Raleigh Greenway system, January 2018

    Raleigh Greenway system, January 2018. Click for larger

    A proposed route from Smokey Hollow to the north towards the current greenway exists. A lot of it would run through Devereux Meadows alongside Capital Boulevard. This was talked about as part of the Capital Boulevard Corridor Study, an effort that took place around 2011. Here’s a map of the proposed greenway route connecting areas north of downtown.

    Right now, there hasn’t been talk of incorporating that civic space or greenway into Smokey Hollow. Those interested in creating a vibrant area here should keep an eye out because as all this development starts, the opportunities for the connections decrease.

    If all the land is dedicated to buildings then the idea of a public plaza becomes significantly harder to plan for. The greenway connection may also turn into a glorified sidewalk path rather than something unique.

    As plans form, I look to the city to work with developers to get this built and see the vision behind Glenwood Green come to full form.

Weekend Inspiration with Gil Penalosa and Dix Park

Click here to see the video if you cannot see it above.

I enjoyed this talk given by Gil Penalosa during his visit to our area. He shows us the transformative power of parks in a city and while the topic is geared for Dix Park, the concepts really can apply all over the city.

My sentiment right now is Raleigh has plenty of vision but is lacking on action. Hopefully, you’ll find a little inspiration in the video just as I did.

Project to Save Historic Homes Could Bring Cohousing to Downtown Raleigh

Houses on West Street

Houses on the 500 block of South West Street

During the November 21, 2017, council meeting, a proposal to sell two city-owned lots on Bloodworth Street was pitched as a way to save two homes that are planned to be demolished. The folks behind The Fairweather will have to remove the two homes shown in the photo above that are located on West Street.

With the Raleigh Historic Development Commission’s help, the houses would be located on these lots with certain restrictive covenants on them and a piece of Raleigh history could be saved. The houses fit well in the Prince Hall Historic District as they date to the historic Fourth Ward, a predominantly African-American neighborhood in the early 1900s.

The move seems to make sense from a preservation aspect. Below is a map of the current location and the proposed new location, lots the city currently owns.

Map showing current location of the houses and proposed new location

Click for larger

To sweeten the pitch, Matt Tomasulo, the brains behind the project, talked to the council about the preservation of the homes and how he wants to use the houses for a cohousing project, a concept that would provide affordable living for service workers in downtown.

For me, this council video is a must watch for readers. At 20 minutes (you could probably just jump to the 2-minute mark and start from there) it’s an easy watch or listen. If you can’t see the video, watch it here on YouTube.

The idea has a lot of merit in my opinion but when you watch the video, you get a sense that creative problem-solving isn’t welcome to some of our councilors.

The motion to sell the properties was denied because there was not the 60% majority needed to approve the sale of the land. Council members Kay Crowder, Dickie Thompson, and David Cox voted against. (Branch was absent)

I don’t want this post to be about politics but this one just doesn’t sit well. I’m not sure who might lose in this scenario and am curious as to what kind of council we will have for the next two years.

Councilor Crowder and Thompson had concerns that approving a sale of city-owned property to a current sitting planning commissioner (Tomasulo) “doesn’t pass the sniff test” or wouldn’t be seen positively from the public’s perspective. There were also concerns that the properties should be open to public bid rather than a direct sale.

However, it was made clear that no public bid was needed when it was used for historic preservation. This process has been used in the past as a way to save historic structures when the alternative is demolition.

It was also made clear that planning commission members are volunteers and get no compensation for their work.

Corner of Bloodworth and Cabarrus Streets.

Corner of Bloodworth and Cabarrus Streets where the houses would go.

You can clearly see the lacking ability of objective decision-making during this exchange by some council members. In my opinion, the council should have no business in the end user here. If the Raleigh Historic Development Commission OKs the sale (they are the experts here) then it is in the public’s interest to sell city-owned land for preservation. (it is in a historic district after all)

I always try to consider the alternative but this is an example of creative problem-solving that institutional forces sometimes can’t appreciate. The only counter I can think of is if other needs are a higher priority than historic preservation. The councilors against didn’t voice any other concerns though with the land’s end use.

They used emotional “feelings” to deny something.

It should be seen as a bonus that they were able to ask questions about the end use, meet the eventual owner, etc. Tomasulo is just as much a Raleighite as you and I and the vote was carried out with an obvious bias.

The houses are set to be demolished in a few months. It is possible for the party behind this effort to come back in January to try again. I’d like to keep an eye on this one and see if RalCon readers can let their councilors know how they feel about an effort like this.

Strategy Forming Over Uses of City-owned Land in Downtown Raleigh

Downtown Raleigh skyline

The city has been moving forward with plans on how best to utilize the land they own in downtown Raleigh. Sell? Develop? To whom and for what?

The idea is to utilize the land that has now increased in value over the last few decades and put it towards supporting some policy goals in the city’s comprehensive plan, downtown plan, and other plans for example. The latest output of this study is the July 14, 2017 Downtown Land Disposition Strategy report which is the meat of today’s blog post.

Dive into the whole thing on the city’s website here.

The July 2017 report was prepared by HR&A Advisors and they are attempting to help the city figure out how to let go or repurpose eleven properties in and around downtown. The report offers possible reuse options, suggestions on how best to sell them, and projects of revenue generated.

The properties, some currently with active buildings and others as surface parking, are mapped below.

Map of city-owned properties, July 2017.

Map of city-owned properties, July 2017. Click for larger

To figure out what’s on the books, what goals the city is striving for, the following policy docs were reviewed:

  • City of Raleigh Strategic Plan (2015)
  • The 2030 Comprehensive Plan (2009)
  • The Downtown Plan (2015)
  • The System Plan for Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources
  • The Affordable Housing Improvement Plan (FY 2016-2020)
  • The Raleigh Arts Plan

HR&A was then able to pull some general goals from all this including:

  • Expand housing with emphasis on affordable/workforce housing
  • Encourage econonic development through recruiting business, promote tourism, and leverage transit
  • Enhance and expand parks and green space
  • Promote retail
  • Provide resource for community facilities like police, fire, libraries, and public parking
  • Preserve arts and culture

With the general goals defined, the next step is to prioritize and gauge the public on these. Through community meetings, attendees were asked to rank the importance of each one against the other. This chart sums up those findings.

Chart of Use Priorities Communicated by Community  Meeting Attendees, July 2017.

Use Priorities Communicated by Community Meeting Attendees. Click for larger

If you’ve been paying attention even for a little while, it would be easy to guess the top priority. Housing has been an increasing concern for the city as a whole and downtown’s revitalization is shaking up the former housing dynamic.

It’s listed as a clear top priority from the community feedback sessions with economic development being a second priority and community facilities being third.

So much for downtown retail and park space, right?

The report then goes into suggestions and projections for each of the eleven sites in downtown. To make it easier to digest, I’ve taken a snapshot of the report and embedded it into a google map for each parcel which you can see below.

I actually recommend you click through to the Google map itself to see the properties and their pop-ups which include the graphic with additional details. Clicking on the graphic there makes it bigger and easier to read. See it here.

Some quick highlights:

  • For the parking lots at the end of Fayetteville Street, major economic development with towers for office and hospitality.
  • The sites east of Moore Square should have housing along Bloodworth with mixed-use office and hospitality facing the square.
  • The City Market parking lot along Person Street could either stay the same or the parking lot be developed into housing.
  • The fire station facing Nash Square and adjacent properties would be repurposed into more offices or rezoned for higher density offices.

Finally, for those wondering what kind of revenue we’re talking about, the final page of the report gets into it. See it below.

Net City Revenue Impact, July 2017.

Net City Revenue Impact. Click for larger

It’s a big project for sure. There’s a push for consolidating city offices with a new campus on the current City Hall block. The offloading of these properties could help pay for that, some being very underutilized.

It’ll be interesting to see the next step although I feel this will be a long and carefully thought out process.

Saying Goodbye To 2016 and Looking Out Towards 2017

View from the Boylan Avenue Bridge, December 2016

View from the Boylan Avenue Bridge, December 2016

I’m always struggling to find a way to wrap up another year of downtown Raleighing that simply describes what took place. There’s just too much going on to do that.

There are things in planning, under construction, and being completed all the time. Shops and restaurants close and new ones open up.

For 2016, the development talks were the same as previous years. New residential, specifically apartment low-rises, came online or started construction. Toss in some new office and hotel spaces and that kind of rounds out the “2016 action.”

These projects are nice to follow and from my point-of-view, new apartment buildings for downtown Raleigh becoming the norm means we’ve hit a new level.

“Another apartment building with 200+ units? Not again.” said everyday in Raleigh 2016.

The way I see it, the novelty of new downtown apartments is wearing off and in a way, that means the momentum is still high.

Consider apartment buildings as just the details but the real projects that were worth following in 2016 involved transit. Raleigh Union Station and the GoRaleigh Transit Station (formerly the Moore Square Station in case you haven’t heard) were being worked on in 2016. More bike lanes popped up all around the city with a bike share plan in the works.

Finally, the county voted to raise the sales tax in order to pay for expanded transit options for Raleigh and surrounding municipalities. The first benefits of this should probably be seen in about two years and downtown Raleigh will be at the core of that expanded system.

Transit compliments downtown Raleigh in a huge way and if implemented well, we may just have even more apartment building projects, to follow in years to come.

2016 Highlights

As I just mentioned, transit was a huge topic in 2016. We followed the progress of Raleigh Union Station in 2016, will watch it take shape in 2017 to its opening in 2018.

If that’s too long to wait, the GoRaleigh Transit Station will be completed in 2017. Additional amenities and an updated design await for the 30-year-old bus station now being worked.

West South Street, August 2016

West South Street, August 2016

More transportation than transit, the two-way conversion of South Street and Lenoir is seeing some big impacts. The West South Street area is seeing huge changes and in 2017, we’ll follow a slew of new residential and renovation projects in that area.

For more on that, you can revisit a post from my Walk series on South Street.

In 2016, cranes were spotted in downtown Raleigh. There’s a lot of action taking place at The Dillon, an upcoming 17-story office tower for the warehouse district.

The Residence Inn hotel was under construction for practically the entire year, with foundation work taking place about a year ago today.

We’re also watching the latest apartment building rise up, The Metropolitan, at the former site of the Greyhound Bus Station on Jones Street. At the pace that these things go up, my guess is that it opens in 2017.

Back to transportation, 2017 will see huge impacts from the Capital Boulevard bridge replacement project. The flyover bridge at Wade Avenue and Capital is being worked on now but we should see the work for the Peace Street bridge and upcoming square loop redesign start in 2017. I cannot recommend the following video enough to get you familiar with this project.

2017 Action

In 2017, here’s what downtown Raleigh has in the pipeline.

  • Still in the planning stages, the Smokey Hollow project plans for a 400-unit apartment tower at the corner of Peace and West Street. The biggest rumor in downtown is that a Publix grocery store is planned for this location but it has not been confirmed publicly as of yet.
  • The city is working on a plan for a new municipal campus for their block to the north of Nash Square. Today, city departments are spread out across multiple locations and this new campus is an effort to bring departments closer together. The city is currently looking for a consultant on the plan.
  • We’ve touched on the plans for Gateway Southeast, or the Exploris School, at Gateway Center already and in 2017, it’s possibly we’ll see dirt moving in this area.
  • After a huge announcement of the sale of the N&O block, perhaps plans for new development here will surface in 2017. One of the first things that have to happen is a new home for the newspaper so some kind of office component should be released soon.
  • One Glenwood is still being planned but could start in 2017.
  • We spotted plans for 301 Hillsborough Street, the highly mixed-use project for Hillsborough Street, recently and 2017 may be the year that the surface parking lots are torn up for cranes.
  • *Broken record* South Street will transform!
  • Stone’s Warehouse may start their renovations in 2017 as well.
  • After the GoRaleigh Transit Station completes its work, the redesign of Moore Square may just (finally) begin in 2017.
  • Could we also see the start of the long-awaited Charter Square North tower in 2017?

Finally, for this blog, I’ll be writing, photoing, coding right into its tenth year.

Happy new year, everyone!