Freedom Park has it’s signature piece installed. Work has been a bit slow but that can’t come to a surprise to anyone with the state of construction these days. A lot of earth moving has taken place since we’ve last checked in with the site and today you can see the outline of the walkways. The retaining wall edges of the walkway and plazas are somewhat in place also.
I’m not sure anyone has actually said that quote but maybe someone should. (I’ll take it if it’s up for grabs) The folks I’m really hoping are saying this repeatedly is our own city as they continue to work through the planning efforts of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.
If you’re coming in fresh to the latest plans on the system then you can jump to the city’s website with an overview of the plans for the four corridors.
Now that it’s 2023, construction should begin on the first corridor of the BRT project. Throughout this year and next, dedicated bus lanes will be added, raised-platform, bus stations will be built, new sidewalks will be added, and traffic signals will be upgraded. We’ll be following along for sure.
What’s even more encouraging about all this are the efforts to slowly shift the dynamic of these BRT corridors by putting in place Transit-Overlay District zoning. It’s great to see the land use compliment the investments in transit.
I see it as a two-sided story. There’s the transit piece, buses, sidewalks, and roads, and then the land use piece requires more urban buildings delivering houses across the income spectrum, spaces for retail that residents can walk to, and office space for businesses. I see it as putting a mix of uses down a single street served by a faster and more reliable form of transportation.
The two stories for New Bern are summed up on these links and I encourage anyone reading to take a look:
I also can’t help but highlight a great map. This one shows the proposed rezoning changes for the New Bern corridor so if you drive down that street or live near it, take a look.
The new BRT changes are coming and as mentioned earlier, construction will kick off this year. The rezoning application is in the final stages and when submitted will hit the Raleigh Planning Commission. I imagine it’ll be a much discussed topic throughout 2023.
For me, you can’t have the BRT running effectively without the right land use so I’m in full support of this rezoning plan. I’m sure there are edge cases that can be tweaked, and that’s fine as it’s a rezoning request across numerous properties, but without the planning piece put in place, I would be nervous about the BRT’s effectiveness for current and future residents in Raleigh.
We also can expect similar rezoning cases come out as the other three corridors mature and come close to their construction dates. BRT will be one of my “most watched” projects this year so I’ll leave this post right here with more thoughts and updates to come in the future.
A set of townhomes that have been under construction all year are starting to look real good along South West Street. Dukes at Cityview are offering eight units at the corner of West and Lenoir.
These amenity-rich units are being sold on the higher end of the spectrum but offer quite a lot in addition to being at a great location. As of this post, their site shows four units sold already. Take a look for yourself.
Good or bad, depending on how you see it, Seaboard Station is transforming right now. The construction energy is high and personally, I’m just thrilled to watch it take place. If you stop by on a weekday, it feels like every corner has construction workers moving and building. Numerous vehicles and machines are churning out materials. The hum and pure noise of the site suggests someone has the pedal to the floor here.
This is what top to bottom change looks, sounds, and feels like.
Now don’t get me wrong, I was more or less fine with the former Seaboard Station buildings. They had a nice warehouse, brick feel to them and a great collection of local businesses made their homes there. However, we’re seeing a complete transition from a suburban retail district into an urban one. That is pretty exciting to me.
The apartment building, called The Signal, on Block B (reminder of the blocks here) looks pretty good from the outside and the finishing touches are being applied now. Residents should be moving in around Spring 2023. The sidewalks are looking great (nice and wide) and when small businesses set up shop here, it’ll be on a completely urban dynamic that the retail district never had before.
Block A is starting to rise out of the hole they dug out at the corner of Peace and Halifax. More apartments and a hotel are being constructed on this block and it was announced recently that the hotel will be a Hyatt House hotel with a rooftop bar called High Rail.
Block C is the youngest site to get started but a crane is already up and work is humming along. At this pace, it won’t take long before this one goes vertical as well. You can take a look at the panorama shot at the top of this post for a peek at the site.
That’s it for the active work at Seaboard at this time. In the future, we’ll have work taking place at Logan’s after the long-time business moves out. Current plans look to move the Seaboard Station building further north and build a pair of towers at 16 and 20 stories. More on that in a future post.
I’m excited for it all and for a more urban Raleigh on downtown’s north side.
Talks of development proposals for the properties to the east of Moore Square have been in the works for years. It wasn’t until 2021 that things really started to pick up. In addition, city-owned lots to the south of Moore Square are included in this future development deal.
The city has been acquiring property in this area to kick start a mixed-use development that would supply multiple things including additional affordable housing and more retail spaces, all as a means to infuse pedestrian activity in nearby Moore Square and City Market.
At a November 2022 city council meeting, city staff presented an overview of development proposals for the city-owned properties to the east and south of Moore Square. You can watch the presentation above or on YouTube directly here.
If you look at the slide above, it shows the map with the affected properties. Moore Square East is being called the collection of parcels on the block to the east of Moore Square. Note, that this does not include the entire block but definitely most of them. Moore Square South would predominantly be the parking lots on the eastern side of City Market along Person Street.
Moore Square East is mostly a barren wasteland of parking. The land is a mix of gravel and grass so there’s little asphalt to tear up here. There’s really not much else to say. My unscientific observations as someone who walks, bikes, and drives by this site multiple times a week is that even as parking, it’s underused. Development here is more than ready to go.
The buildings on this block, closer to or facing Moore Square, as of today, include:
313 East Martin – Two-story building, about 4600 square feet, used as office
227 South Person – Former Killo Pest Control building, empty for at least 6 years and counting. (see this 2016 post)
215 South Person – Former Salvation Army building, empty since the new facility opened on Capital Boulevard
306 East Hargett – 100-year-old home that seems to change bar names/concept every year
314 East Hargett – Raleigh Rescue Mission, open and active
The Raleigh Rescue Mission is kind of the key impact here. While the city doesn’t own that site and any development would not have a direct impact, it’s clear that increasing the urban density would have “neighborly impacts”, for lack of a better term.
Jumping over to Moore Square South, we can see lots of surface parking. The lot is also owned by the city and is a primary lot for City Market visitors who drive into downtown.
Closer to Moore Square, the city also owns a former Esso gas station from around 1915. The building has also been used as a dry cleaners in the 1970s and more recently as a horse barn for the Raleigh Police Department. Currently, it is empty and the city wants to encourage an adaptive reuse of the space.
And finally, the city also owns a historic house along East Martin. The Norwood House from the 1870s is currently being used by the parks department as the Moore Square Visitor Center.
So that’s what we’re working with today. Throughout the summer, city staff reviewed nine proposals for either Moore Square South, Moore Square East, or both. Skipping to the good stuff, city staff recommended proposals from Loden Properties and at the same meeting, council voted and approved for city staff to start negotiations with this developer. Final approval will come back to council next year.
I’ll include the slides for the Loden proposal below but the highlights include:
160-190 affordable housing units
400 market rate units
New building for the Raleigh Rescue Mission
On the positive side, this proposal is the only one that includes a hotel, the only one that mentions a grocery store, and the only one that mentions the Raleigh Rescue Mission. While some of the other proposals offer more housing units, the Loden proposal seems to have the best mix of uses. It’s also good to see all this proposed under current zoning.
On the down side, Loden and city staff mention that additional property is required in order to deliver all that’s presented. As mentioned earlier, the city doesn’t own all the land to the east of Moore Square so it’s possible that these developments may take longer to come to fruition as Loden would need to try and acquire more nearby property.
If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, practically anything that builds on top of surface parking is good in my book. There is still one more round of review, possibly in 2023 so this topic isn’t over yet. However, there’s a lot to be excited about here as it shows the big potential of these mostly empty sites.
Here’s an east-facing photo of the future apartment building called The Acorn. The project will bring about 100 apartments facing Person Street and is planned to open in Summer 2023. Since construction began, we now know that a Marriott TownePlace Suites hotel will later be built on the site shown in the foreground. The hotel faces Blount Street and will share the parking deck you see on the lower floors in the photo.
Plans came out a few weeks ago about a new 30-story building for the surface parking lot along Morgan Street and the Marbles Kid’s Museum. It’s the triangle-shaped lot where Morgan becomes New Bern Avenue at the intersection with Person Street.
Back in early 2021, the parking lot was rezoned with a height limit of 30-stories. It looks like the developer is planning to max it out with a new tower that will have 373 residential units.
The new tower, called VeLa Longview, will also have ground-floor retail and structured parking. You can see some of the developer’s other projects here.
I’m not exactly sure where the name “Longview” comes from but it does seem to pop up around Raleigh. On the same block is the Vintage Church which was formerly called the Long View Center. Owned by a local real estate developer, he sold it in 2013 to the current church. The same developer, Gordon Smith, helped start the Marbles Kid’s Museum and played a pivotal role in rezoning the parking lot that is now to become VeLa Longview.
Clearly, the Longview name has some significance here with someone involved. I’m going to throw this post up on the Community and see if we can’t figure this out.
Here’s a nice view of the currently under construction Hilton Garden hotel which is rising up at the corner of McDowell and Davie Streets. This is actually the rear of the building, facing inward towards the block, so this could be the most interesting angle.
At the current pace, I see no reason the building isn’t topped off before the end of the year. Open in 2023?