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.

A Clean Slate on Hillsborough Street

The hole that was created by the demolition of 301 Hillsborough has now been filled. I’ll use this as a sign to move on from the former tag of ‘The Hillsborough’, the project that was planned here, and start with a new tag of ‘301 Hillsborough‘.

There has been talk of paving over the land for a parking lot in order to generate revenue rather then let the lot sit there vacant. It is expensive property so I cannot argue against that plan. We’ll keep watch for now.

‘The Hills’ Runs Out of Money

It looks like this is the end of the line for the project called The Hillsborough. I think no one should be surprised by this as it has been reported in the past that the developers were facing an uphill battle securing financing. Now that it is official, we can move on. There’s no doubt that this land will become more valuable over time. You’ve got Campbell Law moving in across the street and easy access to Fayetteville St. and Glenwood South. Hillsborough St. is a major corridor in and out of downtown so the location is naturally great.

I’m going to bet that there is not a line of people ready to bid on the site and build a tower in these tough times so a temporary parking lot makes the most sense. Fill the hole and pave it over. It could be used by the Campbell law students and faculty. I’m sure the weekend church crowds may enjoy some prime parking right on Hillsborough St. too. It could even be used as a downtown construction staging area for Green Square, the Public Safety Center, or any other project in the nearby area.

Residents of The Dawson, enjoy your view a little longer.

Pic of the Week

This picture is over a year old. There was no need to take another one cause this site, for The Hillsborough, has been the same for this entire time. According to the city:

“The developer also must meet certain other deadlines in the revised agreement or the City could exercise its option to repurchase the property at 301 and 309 Hillsborough Street. For example, site and foundation work must begin by Feb. 3, 2009 and construction of the project must be complete by March 15, 2011.”

February 3rd is only six days away. Will cranes start showing up this weekend? Place your bets.