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.

A Walk Around 400 Hillsborough

Corner of Hillsborough and West Streets, March 2017

Corner of Hillsborough and West Streets, March 2017

Site plans and other docs were recently submitted to the city for 400 Hillsborough, a 20-story development planned for the entire block between Hillsborough/Edenton Streets and West/Harrington Streets. The blocks along Hillsborough Street are a bit smaller than the larger ones around downtown so while I say “entire block” it actually isn’t that large due to the way the streets are made up.

Google map of topic area

The project, shown in orange in the map, plans for 220 residential units in a 244 foot building. There will also be plenty of ground-floor retail with a few floors of parking.

Rendering of 400 Hillsborough from AAD-009-17

Rendering from 400 Hillsborough AAD-009-17. Click for larger.

Rendering of 400 Hillsborough from AAD-009-17

Rendering from 400 Hillsborough AAD-009-17. Click for larger.

floorplan of 400 Hillsborough from AAD-009-17

floorplan from 400 Hillsborough AAD-009-17. Click for larger.

For awhile, the block has been pretty empty. I need help from readers to share what used to be here as the “main” building, the pink colored one shown at the top of this post, has been empty as long as I’ve been into downtown Raleigh.

Artcraft Sign and C U Fitness are still operating along the Hillsborough Street side while more empty (empty right?) buildings line Harrington Street.

Artcraft Sign and C U Fitness

Artcraft Sign and C U Fitness

Empty buildings along Harrington

Empty buildings along Harrington

I can’t help but lump that triangle property, shown in blue on the map above, in with 400 Hillsborough. I know it’s separate but with a large mixed-use building, especially with so many residential units planned, I can’t help but think this may finally stir something on this plot.

It may not look pretty but the tree-lined sidewalks are mature and lush on this lot. A pocket park sounds like a great use of that space but the city may have to acquire it in order for that to happen. Perhaps there’s an opportunity for a signature building with a unique design here.

Surface parking along West Street

Surface parking along West Street