One Month Away for The Gramercy Apartments Opening

The Gramercy Apartments

The Gramercy Apartments in Glenwood South is marching along and is planning to open in late June. In addition to the apartments, the retail space at the corner of Glenwood and North Street will have a grocery store and pharmacy. The plan is to open that close to the building’s opening so work inside that space is taking place now.

As always parking will be a concern to most folks but there is a plan for that. The parking lot across North Street, behind the building with Plates, Sushi Blues, and Thaiphoon, will be converted to a public lot run with Passport Parking. The first 30 minutes are free and you can use it any time for stopping by in the area.

It’ll be great to see some real resident-based services like this. The 7,000 square-foot grocery, the entirety of the retail space in The Gramercy by the way, will also have weekend farmer’s markets.

Pic of the Week

The Gramercy Apartments February 2016

The Gramercy Apartments in Glenwood South is taking shape for their projected Spring 2016 opening. There isn’t much info posted yet but their website, as of today, allows you to sign up for future emails.

It’s not confirmed but I’m putting my money that the reported Glenwood South pharmacy (see tweet below or here if you can’t see it) is going here. Just a guess though.

Downtown Apartment Buildings in 2015

The Lincoln Apartments

Earlier in the week, I highlighted the next downtown apartment building to open, The Lincoln. Today, I wanted to step back a bit and share some thoughts about the general downtown apartment landscape and the market around them.

Here are some quick thoughts on the state of new developments that cater to the rental market.

  • There will probably be many more mid-rise apartment buildings coming.
  • We have plenty of room for them.
  • At the end of the day, we are becoming more urban.

Many more to come?

The downtown apartment mid-rises that have been built over the last few years seem to have a specific formula to them. There are several hundred units wrapped around a parking deck and courtyard. If you add in amenities like a gym, pool, and lounge then you can now, most likely, make a profit providing rental housing.

This isn’t specific to downtown however. Apartment complexes all over the city apply the same formula. The difference is in the built environment. For example, a 200+ apartment complex in North Raleigh may be spread among several buildings (3 or 4 stories) surrounded by surface parking and all the amenities built into a clubhouse.

It’s built this way because it is most likely cheaper and purchasing the available land to accommodate this is cheaper compared to downtown land. Projects are more compact in downtown because of this.

Nothing terribly new or shocking here but to me, it sounds similar to another development model.

Cheap land and a very large footprint is the model behind the big-box retail store. Lots of inventory under one roof and cheap surface parking further keep costs down. This is why there are no big-box stores in downtown, the environment doesn’t fit to the model.

So how are “big-box apartment” projects cropping up?

My thoughts start out with the fact that downtown land is expensive but not expensive enough for these projects. If a nice square or rectangle plot can be acquired (a less complex building is cheaper most likely) then a several hundred-unit building can be profitable.

You also have to consider construction materials. I’ll let any engineers chime in but from what I understand it to be, there’s a threshold around the 6 or 7 story limits of a building. Higher than that, steel construction has to be used and therefore is far more expensive. If you can stay under that threshold and build with wood, then the project is viable.

So if you wanted to build another apartment project, here’s the formula in a nut shell:

  • Find some underutilized land that forms a square/rectangle. The less structures already there, the better.
  • In under 6 stories, can you fit several hundred units, a parking deck, a courtyard, and some amenities?

The point I want to make here is that between all four corners of downtown, there is a lot of available land to play with. A plethora of surface parking lots that are more valuable than they seem are waiting to be built on.

I’m not an expert on the economics here but it really feels like we’ll be seeing many more mid-rises in coming years. Just take a look at all the available surface parking in downtown Raleigh in the graphic below.

Yellow indicates surface parking in downtown Raleigh. Data is dated 2011.

Click for larger. Yellow indicates surface parking in downtown Raleigh. Data is dated 2011.

The graphic is a few years old and only a few lots need to be changed but it still makes my point. We have lots of room to grow within.

As far as affordability goes, there is definitely a premium to pay with these new apartments only because they are located in downtown Raleigh. The supply is trying to catch up with demand so right now, the prices are high. (compared to the rest of the city) This seems to happen in other industries also. Prices drop when things have been out for awhile and access is easier.

What people are forgetting is that before 2005, maybe even later, renting in downtown Raleigh was an extreme niche. There were only a few hundred units (if that) spread across random buildings and in small clusters. We essentially had a seedling of a rental community at the time. Then, downtown living become a thing real fast and developers are trying to meet that demand. In the grand scheme of things, everything is still so early. The prices should fall once supply increases and some of the first units to come out start being dated.

If you are a fan of Jane Jacobs then you should believe that to create affordability, you want a mix of housing with a mix of ages. New apartment buildings can command high prices because they are new, have the latest amenities, and styles. Buildings that have a few years on them, may be a little dated but are perfectly fine places to live and priced a little less. Buildings older than that may be even cheaper because they only have one of something or don’t have such and such amenity. You get the picture.

It takes time which is tough for some to realize and puts downtown Raleigh in a awkward position because all this rental housing is really just starting to be built. We don’t have that history and those range of options like the rest of the city has.

Still, I don’t think it should surprise anyone that the development will keep coming (my prediction anyway) until land prices increase or market preferences change. I say we continue to cheer on these developments because what we really want is a vibrant residential community with a variety of living options.

We also need some of that available land to be built on so that newer project have to be more creative.

I don’t feel like these mid-rise projects, with their “big-box” footprints and lack of design, are that urban in nature. However, what they are doing is moving Raleigh up just a few more notches on the urban scale. I believe a few less car trips will be taken by these residents and that is the path we must take as we approach a true urban center in the future. It’s transitional and reflective of the current market preferences and political climate that we live in today.

I’d love to keep this conversation going with anyone who has insight on topics like this.

The Lincoln Apartments Now Open

The Lincoln Apartments

The Lincoln Apartments

I was fortunate enough to be invited on a tour of The Lincoln Apartments recently. The 224-unit apartment building that is located one block east of Moore Square brings luxury studio, 1, and 2 bedroom apartments with plenty of amenities to keep residents happy.

I wanted to write about the tour and, in a separate post, mention some thoughts and trends I’m noticing about the wave of rental buildings that have really hit our downtown. Think of this post as an introduction to that analysis.

The Lincoln will have its grand opening on September 10 but that shouldn’t stop anyone interested to get in touch with them now. I was told people are already moving in.

The clubroom, The Lincoln Apartments

The clubroom, The Lincoln Apartments

The tour started us in the clubroom, an open space with kitchen, lounge, and billiard table with contemporary flair. Small groups could socialize comfortably here and there was easy access to the outdoor courtyard. The courtyard had the pool, a sundeck, outdoor TV and couches, built-in gas grills with high-top tables, and a shuffle board table. Sprinkled around these were a variety of fireplaces. The clubroom and courtyard should be the social center of The Lincoln.

The courtyard, The Lincoln Apartments

The courtyard, The Lincoln Apartments

Walking back inside, we saw the fitness center, outfitted with brand new equipment. Attached was a yoga studio. While not large in size, the access and equipment probably rivals any public gym out there.

Transportation was next as each bedroom, not unit, gets a parking space. We took a brief peak at the parking as a way to show off the electric charging stations. The highlight, in my eyes anyway, was the bike storage room. A small room for storing bikes was easily accessible from the street. In addition, a bike repair stand, similar to the one on Hargett Street, was available for residents. Kudos to The Lincoln for providing this.

Bike storage room, The Lincoln Apartments

Bike storage room, The Lincoln Apartments

Down the hall, the pet spa. Not yet finished for the tour but a large tub was installed for washing pets. A pet dryer was to be installed later.

The rest of the tour took us through some of the units. The layout of the studios and one-bedrooms were optimal to make it seem larger. All the units have high-ceilings (9′ or 10′) and great access to natural light in most cases. Flooring consisted of faux wood throughout the units with carpet in the bedrooms. The kitchens were up-to-date with granite countertops, modern fixtures, and stainless steel appliances. Everyone gets a washer/dryer. Trash chutes and recycling are available on every floor.

Modern kitchens at The Lincoln Apartments

Modern kitchens at The Lincoln Apartments

Pricing depends on the floorplan but here is a general idea:

  • Studio – 552 sq ft – $1095
  • 1 Bedroom – 628-923 sq ft – $1168-$1717
  • 2 Bedroom – 997-1392 sq ft – $1655-$2311

The bulk of units lean more towards the lower end of those prices. Only 7 units in The Lincoln are asking more than $2000. The units along Bloodworth Street have a great downtown Raleigh view, with most price points represented on that side of the building.

View from The Lincoln Apartments

View from The Lincoln Apartments

On the inside, The Lincoln, like most downtown Raleigh apartment buildings, offer a great list of amenities to renters. Combine that with the stellar location of being close to downtown and today’s high-demand for rentals, you can’t really be shocked by those asking prices.

We’ll get more into the downtown Raleigh apartments scene in the next post. Overall, I enjoyed the tour and look forward to seeing people move in to The Lincoln.

Greyhound Apartments Plans 250 Apartments on Jones Street

The former Greyhound terminal on Jones Street

The former Greyhound terminal on Jones Street

A site plan (SP-53-15) was submitted to the city for what’s being called Greyhound Apartments for 250 units on the west side of the block bounded by Jones, Lane, Harrington, and Dawson Streets. The work is being done by the same group that brought us The Lincoln apartments, Banner Apartments LLC.

The site is made up of three parcels, those being the old Greyhound bus terminal, the one-story building at the corner of Jones and Harrington where Trig Modern is located today, and the single-family house along Harrington Street that was built in 1910. (according to iMaps)

It shouldn’t surprise many that the architect behind this apartment project is JDavis Architects as they seem to be the go-to architect for these types of mid-rises in downtown Raleigh.

Map of the area

Click for larger

The site plan shows a preliminary plan for the building and reminds me of a modified version of The Lincoln. (no surprise) The northern half of the building will contain a parking deck with the southern half, a courtyard. All of this is wrapped with apartments and won’t be shown to the street.

The parking deck entrance will be on Harrington Street and this site plan doesn’t show any retail spaces. There is a bike-storage room that I haven’t seen in other projects downtown so Bike Raleigh fans should be happy about that.

The Triangle Business Journal has a preliminary rendering that you can see here.

Jones and Harrington is turning into a residential heavy intersection. With real retail still in it’s infancy along Glenwood Avenue, and struggling to be honest, I’m not convinced that retail spaces are needed within these projects right now.

Construction Set to Start On The Lincoln

Construction fencing at the site of The Lincoln

Construction fencing is up at the future site of The Lincoln, a 224 unit apartment building going on an empty lot to the east of downtown Raleigh’s Moore Square. With over a year of planning, equipment has rolled in and the entire block has been fenced off.

The lone house along Martin Street still stands however. I guess there’s plenty of room to start construction while the fate of the house is determined. The developer was making moves to buy a nearby plot of city-owned land in order to have it moved. If the city voted to sell the property to them, perhaps the house can be rolled off The Lincoln site rather than be demolished.

With Skyhouse apartments and very positive talks of funding for the Moore Square redesign recently, east-side downtown may be a growing hot spot.

The Lincoln Will Bring 224 Apartments To Emo Raleigh

Corner of Hargett and East Street

Corner of Hargett and East Street as seen in March, 2011.

Emo Raleigh (East of Moore Square) may be getting a big influx of housing units if a new development gets approved by the city. According to a newly submitted site plan, The Lincoln is a full-block apartment building for the mostly empty, grassy lot bounded by Hargett, Martin, East, and Bloodworth Streets.

Currently, just a single house sits on the lot and for years the developers behind The Lincoln have been working to acquire property, move houses, and get everything ready.

The site plan tells us that the 70′ high building will be designed by JDavis Architects and offer one, two, and three bedroom apartments. Looking at the preliminary site plan we can see that there will be apartments along all four faces of the block with an enclosed parking deck and pool.

If I’m looking at this map correctly, the deck entrances look to be on Bloodworth and East Streets. See for yourself on this extracted image I created, posted below.

This is great for the Moore Square area as well as the adjacent Thompson-Hunter neighborhood. This side of town has been quiet on the development front. If successful, The Lincoln could raise more interest in new projects for East Raleigh as there is relatively cheaper land here.

The Lincoln Preliminary Site Plan