The Apartment Mid-rise Boom is Fading in Downtown Raleigh

The Dillon Apartments on Hargett Street

It hit me recently during a conversation in a downtown coffee shop that The Metropolitan apartments would have seen residents moving in this month. If you don’t know the history, the project, while under construction, met an unfortunate fate and went up in flames in March of this year.

The developers plan to rebuild and the site is currently being cleared.

If it wasn’t for the fire delaying the delivery of The Metropolitan, we could easily see the end to the multi-unit, mid-rise apartment product line in downtown Raleigh. At least for the foreseeable future.

Site of The Metropolitan Apartments fire site.

Site of The Metropolitan Apartments fire site

Barring any new project announcements, the apartment pipeline would have ended with The Dillon opening in 2018. Taking a look at the latest list of projects released by the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, we can see that there are no planned projects similar to these.

To be clear, I’m referring to the 5-7 story, wood-construction buildings with a larger footprint. Typically to make these work, developers have had to acquire multiple properties and combine them.

That’s not to say the residential projects aren’t flowing. The product is just changing.

Smokey Hollow plans to bring 445 residential units in a 12-story building on Peace Street. FNB Tower will mix up office and 247 residential units across 22 stories. 400H will also mix office and 220 units in a 20-story building. Details are still light on 301 Hillsborough but with a similar style to the other projects there’s no reason to guess that more residential units could be included.

That’s 900 units across three projects right there.

Rendering of 400H

Most recent rendering of 400H

The other side of the picture is the rise in townhome projects. These are adding infill to the periphery of downtown. Currently under construction, we have:

115 townhomes are in the works and more are in the planning stages.

Perhaps we’re at a point where combining multiple parcels for large footprint developments isn’t economically feasible for mid-rise buildings. There could be other changes in the market that are affecting this. Downtown could also be much more livable than before, enticing buyers to purchase units than rent.

Maybe there is a hold on projects as plans for a downtown soccer stadium and big infrastructure changes to Capital Boulevard need to pan out for developers to pitch new projects.

You could look at it from a lot of angles. It’s certainly a great topic to discuss.

Rendering of 301 Hillsborough Shows Double Tower Development

Rendering of 301 Hillsborough, provided by The Lundy Group.

Click for larger

Posted here is the latest rendering of 301 Hillsborough, which comes courtesy of The Lundy Group. It was released a few weeks ago so it may not be new to some readers but I’m putting it here for posterity.

For reference, in the foreground you’ll see a gray box of a building. That is where The Flying Saucer (and a plate with my name on it!) currently reside. Morgan Street is going from bottom center towards right center of the rendering.

To see more detail, check out this November 2016 post.

Revisiting 301 Hillsborough Street and Plans For 20-Story, Mixed-Use Building

Email readers: This blog post has a virtual reality image. Read the post on the blog to see it.

Looking at 301 Hillsborough Street from across Dawson Street.

Recently submitted site plans for 301 Hillsborough give us some more details as to what might come for the surface parking lots along Hillsborough and Morgan Streets.

SR-93-2016, listed on the city’s development page, shows almost a full-block development consisting of a “mixed use building with approximately 220,007 sf office; 242 residential units; 40,832 sf retail, 176 hotel units, and structured parking (991 spaces)”

SR-093-2016 map

Click for larger

Mixed-use indeed.

The site plan shows a floor plan that will encompass practically everything on that block except for the 3-story brick building at the corner of Harrington and Morgan Street. You can kind of see the new building coming up against the old so perhaps it’ll blend right in.

All the existing surface parking will be gone. In addition, the two-story house at the corner of Hillsborough and Harrington will also be removed. That house seems like a perfect candidate for a relocation.

House being used as offices for a Raleigh law firm

House at 327 Hillsborough being used as offices for a Raleigh law firm

There are a couple things we can see from looking at the site plan. Remember that it is preliminary so things may change but from my assessment Morgan, Hillsborough, and Dawson will change dramatically.

Along Morgan starting from the west:

  • Service driveways, garages (trash, service unloading/loading, etc.) are planned approximately across from the ones in The Dawson.
  • A parking garage entrance will go along Morgan also.
  • In between, there will be retail space.

Along Dawson:

  • Retail and lobby space only.

Along Hillsborough starting from the west:

  • There will be primarily retail and lobby space for the hotel and residential units.
  • A parking garage entrance closer to Dawson.

Overall, the parking garage entrances on Hillsborough and Morgan line up and on the inside of the building, there is a roundabout for hotel parking. You can also access the upper levels of the parking deck from here.

Just a detail, the site plan also shows 30 foot planters along the sidewalks of Hillsborough Street and with numerous bike racks. That’s a nice enhancement to the pedestrian space as well as supporting the dedicated bike lanes along Hillsborough Street.

I’m definitely excited for this one as an infusion of this many different uses is sure to add activity on the streets and sidewalks to all different times of the day and week.

Corner of Morgan and Harrington Streets

Corner of Morgan and Harrington Streets. Flying Saucer will be getting lots of new neighbors.

SR-093-2016 map

Another site plan map. Click for larger.

A Walk Up North West Street

Staring down North West Street at Hillsborough Street

On an early morning weekday, I went for a walk up North West Street to check out a few projects and take photos of the current state of the street. West Street is an important street in my opinion as it is a direct connection from the Warehouse District to Glenwood South. Right now, it is more of a go-through street (by vehicle or bike) as opposed to a pedestrian hub of activity. That doesn’t mean there isn’t potential for a different face in the future.

There isn’t much to look at but the potential for new projects here is huge. There isn’t much retail or commercial right now. Some blocks of West are even lacking sidewalks.

While Glenwood Avenue is the primary pedestrian corridor of Glenwood South, West Street might do the heavy lifting with higher density projects in the near future as well as provide better connectivity in and out of the area.

Below is a map I made of highlights up and down North West Street. Let me know if a nearby project is missing and I can add it for completeness.

Open up the map yourself here.

At West and Hillsborough Street, you can already see the empty spaces ready for new uses. The mid-1900s storefronts along Hillsborough and the almost empty block at the corner of Hillsborough and West have been waiting for years. Would you consider this Glenwood South? I feel like this intersection doesn’t belong to either Glenwood South or the Warehouse District so the revitalization of those districts haven’t hit here yet.

Corner of West Street and Hillsborough Street

What could get this area moving are two, big nearby projects. One Glenwood and 301 Hillsborough are about two blocks along Hillsborough in each direction. Those two “bookend” projects could invigorate the street between them.

Heading north, the intersection of West and Jones could be much livelier in the near future. The Link Apartments has recently been finished at the Northeast corner and more residential units are planned at the Greyhound Apartments one block to the east.

The Link Apartments are now open at West and Jones.

The Raleigh Electric Company Power House building is an icon on Jones Street and we’re still waiting to see what comes of the space after Natty Greene’s lease was pulled last summer.

At the end of the block, we’re also waiting for the future offices of Google to open. It’s a high-profile company for sure but I still have mixed feelings against Google taking a great looking building and using it for offices and not something more active, especially in Glenwood South. We’ll see how it turns out.

Moving on, we pass multiple surface parking lots. I hope one-day that these lots will be replaced with more buildings that support more active uses.

The first example of when this could happen is at West and Tucker Street. The east side of West Street has had plans for years for more apartments. The West Apartments and West II Apartments have been in planning for awhile. I haven’t seen big changes to the plans but we’ve known about these projects since 2012. Hopefully, things will move on that in the near future as it is a big infill project as you can see on the map.

The West Apartments are planned for this surface lot.

A project that has been talked about for years, and is always worth highlighting, is not one around the street but under it. The Pigeon House Branch creek is buried below the area around North West Street. You can catch a glimpse of the creek about mid-block between Tucker and Johnson Street.

Creek to the left, street to the right.

Talks of opening up the creek have come and gone for awhile and it could be an asset in the newest Downtown Plan. The Glenwood Green district shows a plan for redevelopment in this area with a greenway that follows the creek path. It could be one of the most unique areas in downtown around that natural water feature.

Screenshot from the latest Downtown Plan.

West Street becomes more desolate around Johnson Street with the west side lacking sidewalks and more surface parking nearby.

Recently, news came out about the purchase of the buildings at 600 North West Street, the current location of Southland Ballroom and Themeworks. It was purchased by a joint effort involving Kane Realty and Williams Realty & Building Co.

No plans are out yet for the site. Once the replacement of the Capital Boulevard Bridge is finished, the area will see a reconfigured Harrington Street that connects to Peace rather than bending over to connect to West Street. Those plans may have played a factor in the area’s attractiveness to invest.

600 North West Street, current home of Themeworks and Southland Ballroom.

Hitting Peace Street, the walk has to continue northward. I hadn’t noticed before but the pedestrian amenities are much improved at West and Peace.

North of Peace Street, West Street doesn’t resemble the straight-as-an-arrow urban street but changes to a swerving street as it edges up against the Pigeon House Branch Creek. This light industrial and commercial area is seeing some signs of new activity.

Renovation almost complete at the corner of West and Peace.

At the Northwest corner of Peace and West, the renovation of the building where Lighting Inc used to be looks to be almost completed. The Lundy Group has come in here and bought this building and a few behind it for future redevelopment. Technology companies will be moving in here soon once the former Lighting Inc. building is finished.

While the area gets less urban the more north you go, there is something to be said about the view. Best view of downtown, in my opinion. Who can build a condo here for me?

The land topography may prove to be more challenging for a new development but with a possible park to the south called Devereux Meadows (see the Glenwood Greens plan above) it’s just a matter of time before this area gets built up.

Along the 800 “block”, a fantastic warehouse renovation has taken place. At this time, Morehead Capital is the current tenant.

There are also plans for the house next door. Each are shown in this photo below.

Old house at 713 North West Street, next to the warehouse renovation at 801 North West Street.

Development plans are on the city’s website for The Cardinal (SR-20-16), a bar and lounge planned for the house there at 713 North West Street. The lot next to it will be paved for surface parking.

I finished my walk once I hit 1000 North West Street and decided that was good enough. It’s all industrial at this point and with West ending at Wade, there isn’t much traffic. That could change if, as part of the Capital Boulevard Corridor, West Street is extended northward to connect to Fairview Road.

It may not look like it but West Street could be poised for something big and the pieces just feel like they are coming together for this very important downtown street.

Municipography, 301 Hillsborough Street and Advent Church Building on Person Street

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.

During this week’s city council meeting, the zoning request for the renovated church building at 501 South Person Street was discussed again. Also, a decision was made on how to sell the property at 301 Hillsborough Street.

501 South Person

If the video doesn’t load for you, click here and jump to minute 24.

This has been in the works for awhile. For a refresher jump to an older post about this.

After numerous conditions were included, it seems that both the neighborhood and the owner of the future restaurant came to an agreement. The rezoning was approved.

For more on this, I recommend jumping to “Prince Hall Rezoning Case Receives Council Approval” on the Raleigh Public Record.

301 Hillsborough Street

If the video doesn’t load for you, click here.

The discussion here was around how to sell the city-owned land at 301 Hillsborough Street.

There were some great points put out by Councilor Stephenson around our downtown plan and how the city should use the land to get some of the planned suggestions. (like a grocery store) However, the requests were very last-minute and most of council moved to approve the process of opening up the land for auction. In this scenario, there is no way to sell the land to a developer that presents certain types of plans.

It’s a money making endeavor only from what it sounds like. The money could then be used elsewhere. The current offer is for $3.1 million.

Municipography, 300 Block of Hillsborough Street

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/RSS readers click through to the website to see the embedded video.

If you want to become an expert on everything related to the 300 block of Hillsborough Street then this Raleigh City Council video is the one to watch. I actually enjoyed the discussion and if there is any amount of municipal geek in you, then this video is the one to watch to the end.


If the video embed doesn’t show, go here to watch it.

The video of the council discussion has the following:

  • Councilor thoughts on the properties
  • Proponents from nearby land owners and the Downtown Raleigh Alliance
  • Opponents from the nearby Dawson Condominiums

The short summary I can give is that the council wanted as many facts as possible before “letting go” of this city-owned land. Some felt that discussion should continue, at another time, to see how the land could be leveraged for community benefits, affordable housing being the most talked about. At the same time, with no plan or policy in place today, some felt that this particular piece of land should not be cherry picked into forcing those covenants onto it.

It’s definitely a tough decision and while the rezoning for the 20-story maximum limit was passed there’s still a conversation to be had about how to “dispose” of the property. That will be handled in the Budget and Economic Development Committee.

The old zoning had no height limit and any new proposal had to be reviewed for approval. What the 20-story height limit now does is that any building proposed that is under that limit immediately is approved. It’s like setting the boundaries for development ahead of time and if new proposals fall within that boundary, faster approvals take place.

The opinions were all over the place. Residents in The Dawson wanted something that matches their building, something with a 7-story maximum. A representative from the Downtown Raleigh Alliance sees the density as supporting more retail, more restaurants, and brings us that much closer to actually getting a grocery store in downtown Raleigh, something that at this point is the holy grail in some people’s eyes. The owner of the building, more like a historic house, at the corner of Hillsborough and Harrington, where the law firm is located, even said he saw the rezoning as a “down-zoning” as it was made clear that the previous approval here was a 32-story building. That was approved back in 2006.

In my opinion, I agree that affordable housing is very important. So let’s talk about it. Where is the “Downtown Affordable Housing Action Plan” or something similar? Who, or what group, can spearhead that effort? We should get that initiative rolling so that when future opportunities on city-owned land come up, just like the one here at 301 Hillsborough, council will know what to do and have the confidence of modifying plans so that they benefit the community in a positive way. What shouldn’t happen is rush to form a plan at the last minute just because we see an opportunity.

Since that plan is not in place, let’s not slow things down and I’m happy to see the council approve this rezoning.

As a side note, it’s unfortunate that councilor Eugene Weeks, representing District C where the most affordable housing in the city is located, didn’t say a word during the 1 hour and 15 minutes that this discussion took place. Sure, 301 Hillsborough is in District D but I almost look to him for guidance seeing as he should have the most experience with tons of city-owned properties turned affordable housing taking place in east and southeast Raleigh.

Multiple Rezoning Requests on the Table

Dillon Supply Company in downtown Raleigh's Warehouse District

There’s a nice cluster of rezoning requests at the city right now that could bring new development to where there is currently none or very little existing activity. The RalCon commenters have been all over it recently so I wanted to bring it up top for more exposure.

Rezoning requests don’t sound exciting but it does fuel the rumor mill. While I enjoy speculation at a “for entertainment purposes only” approach I think we should lay out what’s on the table and what the comprehensive plan says about these areas.

To date, none of the requests discussed here have been approved or denied. They have only been submitted.

301 Hillsborough Street and 320 W. Morgan Street

Case number Z-038-14 has been discussed on the blog before. It’s the site of the parking lot used by Campbell Law school along Dawson Street between Morgan and Hillsborough Street. If you need a refesher, we talked about it back in October of 2014.

The request is for a DX-20-SH. In short, that means Downtown Mixed Use zoning with a 20 story max height and a shopfront frontage.

The latest update on this rezoning request is that there are some big projects being discussed behind closed doors. The N&O writes:

The city government has been entertaining at least two “substantial and serious offers” from private developers for the 1.2-acre property. Now the city has moved to apply a new set of development rules to the land, potentially clearing the way for a private construction project.

*Raleigh files to allow 20-story buildings at 301 Hillsborough St.

On the opposite side of the coin, there are a group of residents that are against the rezoning. The Central CAC has voted against this rezoning in a recent meeting. The article also states that The Dawson residents are against the rezoning and instead want the height to be capped at 7 stories instead of 20.

The last piece of this story that I’ll share is what the comprehensive plan says about this area. Here are quotes from it that seem relevant.

Reinforce the William Christmas Plan by encouraging prominent buildings and uses to be developed along axial streets (i.e. Hillsborough, Fayetteville, and New Bern) and the squares. (1, 3, 4, 6)

Highest density development should occur along the axial streets (Hillsborough Street, Fayetteville Street and New Bern Avenue), major streets (as identified by the Street plan), surrounding the squares, and within close proximity to planned transit stations.

327 & 309 Hillsborough Street and 324 & 328 W. Morgan Street

Case Z-39-14 is right next door and is for the same DX-20-SH zoning. This would be the western half of the same block that has 301 Hillsborough mainly along Harrington Street.

This seems like the same story as before. The same height concerns are mentioned by the residents at The Dawson. The same comprehensive plan applies to this lot as does 301 Hillsborough.

603 S. Wilmington Street and 112 & 114 E. Lenoir Street

Moving off Hillsborough Street, case Z-42-14, is a request for a DX-12-UG-CU zoning. If you’re following along, that’s downtown mixed-use at 12 story maximum with an urban general frontage, conditional use. An urban general frontage means that while the building is up against the sidewalk, ground floor retail space may or may not be there. It allows for walk up townhomes, an office lobby, or something similar.

The property in question here is where the Baptist Headquarters Building is located next to the McDonald’s facing Wilmington Street. According to the TBJ article, plans for a hotel are in the works and the rezoning would allow it to be as tall as 12 stories.

A hotel developer has submitted plans with the city to rezone a piece of property within the Prince Hall Historic District in downtown Raleigh for a hotel and office building that could stretch as high as 12 stories tall.

*New 12-story hotel proposed for downtown Raleigh

Taking a look at the comprehensive plan, this area seems to have the same density and urban core concepts as the rest of downtown. Close by is the start of an identified transition area, one that steps down towards the nearby neighborhoods.

The image below shows a piece of the map whereby the areas in blue have been identified as transitional. The map is just a guide however and with it being in a historic district I bet this topic gets heated.

401, 403 & 406 W. Hargett Street, 223 S. West Street, 410 W. Martin Street, & 126, 210 & 218 S. Harrington Street

Case Z-1-15 involves quite a few properties in the warehouse district near Union Station. This request is for DX-20-CU, downtown mixed use at 20 stories maximum, conditional use. The grandest building here is the Dillon Supply Warehouse, pictured at the top of this post, which is a real cornerstone of our warehouse district in terms of size and potential.

Just like the other areas mentioned in this post, this area again is identified as needing high-intensity development as it is in the downtown.

The developer here seems to be Kane Realty Corp, the group behind North Hills. If you take a look at the zoning request the “neighborhood” meeting was held up at the North Hills offices with only 4 Raleighites attending.

The writing is on the wall that the city wants this area to be hugely successful due to the upcoming Raleigh Union Station project. (set to break ground in less than 10 weeks) If you attended enough of the Union Station meetings, there is also another component that is seen as hugely needed adjacent to Union Station. Lots of new parking was seen as a huge need here and I wouldn’t be surprised if a big parking deck component is put in this area to accommodate that.

301 Hillsborough, A Review

The parking lot at 301 Hillsborough Street

The parking lot at 301 Hillsborough Street

This story is as old as the blog itself so it is kind of exciting to revisit an “old” development. Articles in the news have reported that the city is in talks with interested developers to build on top of the city-owned property at 301 Hillsborough Street. From the North Raleigh News:

Raleigh staff have received at least two “substantial and serious offers for the property,” 1.2 acres of parking located two blocks west of the Capitol, according to a staff report.

Worth an estimated $3 million, the southwest corner of Hillsborough and Dawson streets soon could attract another sizable project.

“Whoever builds there, it’s going to be a fairly good-sized building,” said city attorney Tom McCormick.

*City again ready to sell 301 Hillsborough for high-density development via www.northraleighnews.com

Nothing is out yet so a little refresher to this story is appropriate at this time.

301 Hillsborough in February 2007

In 2007, plans for a 25 to 32-story tower named ‘The Hillsborough’ were out by the father and son developers, Ted and David Reynolds. This is the same team that brought us The Quorum Center.

The new tower was planned to be mixed-use with hotel, office, residential, and ground-floor retail. Plans and height flexed a little bit during that year but planning moved ahead enough to demolish the current building on site, shown in the 2007 photo above.

The cleared site sat empty for awhile. There were no changes about 12 months later as 2009 came upon us.

As with a few other downtown projects, the 2009 recession affected The Hillsborough most likely and no progress was made after this. Later that year, the city filled in the hole and it eventually became a parking lot in order to generate some revenue. Campbell Law School, located across the street, uses this lot for parking today.

Speculation on the site’s future could go in all sorts of direction here so this post acts as an open thread for RalCon commenters.

I’ve always seen Hillsborough Street as a central location to downtown districts so a hotel could be an option. There’s easy vehicle access to the site using the Dawson/McDowell pair and it’s a short walk to the state government district, Fayetteville Street CBD, Warehouse District and Glenwood South.

There currently isn’t much office space along the Dawson/McDowell corridor but that doesn’t mean new space couldn’t be built.

Residential, as in apartment rentals, are never off the table it seems these days. Either way, a large parking component will likely be built here.

More to come in the near future.