The Glenwood South and Carolina Ale House Saga Looking Positive

500 Glenwood Avenue, soon to be demolished for the new Carolina Ale House on Glenwood South

You almost don’t want to believe this until you see it. The story that has really turned me, and others I talk to, into pessimists is the one about the upcoming new building at 500 Glenwood Avenue. It is planned to house, in addition to other businesses, a Carolina Ale House and after almost five years, it looks like this project will finally get started.

In the coming days, we should see the building at the corner of Tucker and Glenwood Avenue come down and make room for a new, three-story building for a rooftop Carolina Ale House restaurant and additional retail space in the other floors. Some construction fencing is now up and even the R-Line stop at this corner has been moved down a bit along Tucker Street.

I have no doubt that the Ale House here will do some pretty good business as the brand has over 20 other locations to bring experience from. If you’ve never been, the Ale House is a sports restaurant with a “something for everyone” menu and an extensive beer list with enough choices for safe beer drinkers to try something new but not enough to satisfy the craft palate.

500 Glenwood Avenue, soon to be demolished for the new Carolina Ale House on Glenwood South

The beginning of the demolition to the building.

Let’s hope for smooth sailing ahead on this project so that doors will open in late 2014. Jump to this link to the Triangle Business Journal for a rendering of the upcoming building.

Pic of the Week

The outdoor seating and wide sidewalks on the west side of the 300 block of Glenwood are taking shape. Below is a before picture taken from another angle. This is an example of what the new comprehensive plan is going to continue bringing to new development and building renovations in our city’s more urban areas.

I believe Glenwood Avenue will actually gain a few more street parking spaces because of the loss of the driveway so the actual amount of parking lost is fewer then then the total previously under the building.

The pedestrian experience is improved with a sidewalk almost triple in size. It might make sense to move the R-Line stop that is in front Hibernian about twenty or thirty feet to the south.

Parking Cleared For Outdoor Seating on Glenwood South, Cars Wimper While Driving By

This is a small project that was first mentioned back in 2008. What a nice surprise to find this lot torn up as I walked up Glenwood yesterday. I asked one of the construction workers what they were working on and he confirmed that they were putting in a patio seating area for the restaurants in the building.

For those that can’t tell, this is the building in Glenwood South with Zely & Ritz, Sushi Blues, Taiphoon, and Bottega Hair Salon. Glenwood South is leading the charge on the outdoor seating options.

Hampton Inn Glenwood South, We Dive Into The Specs

Over the past few weeks, reports of a Hampton Inn Hotel have been reported for Glenwood South. For those that have been following real close for awhile, this is actually nothing terribly new. However, the talk of the hotel comes up again because of a site plan submitted to the city for approval. Download the site plan below or continue reading for some initial thoughts and impressions.

Hampton Inn Glenwood South site plan (pdf)

The Location

The hotel will be placed on the northeast corner of Glenwood Avenue and Johnson Street, or in place of the white brick building shown below. We will lose a few one and two story warehouses with little architectural contribution. The added density will make the Johnson/Glenwood intersection the most urban on Glenwood South.

Visitors leaving the hotel are in a great location to experience downtown Raleigh. With the name being “Glenwood South Hampton Inn”, visitors will expect something from the lineup down the street. Thankfully, within a few blocks there are quite a few options for eating and drinking. To move beyond Glenwood South, one can walk half a block to the deserted R-Line stop on West Street or take the one block scenic route to the R-Line stop on Tucker Street.

The Building

Looking at the simple renderings, the building is nothing to get excited about. A brick box with big letters will sit on the site and try to blend in. Below, I have partial images of the south facing side and the west facing side, respectively. Click on them for a larger, fuller image.

The hotel is in the shape of an L, shown on the map in the site plan. The rear of the building will face the railroad tracks so visitors may have a nice surprise at night. The lobby of the hotel actually faces Johnson street with a curved brick paver for dropping off and picking people up. Facing Glenwood Avenue will be a retail space.

Looking at the plans for the ground floor, there are some amenities that stick out. It looks like there will be a pool and a space adjacent to it; most likely for a gym. The retail space is the entire west facing section, from corner to corner, with a door in the center facing Glenwood Avenue and not on the corner. The service entrance will be down Johnson Street at the end of the building closest to the railroad tracks.

Sidewalks and Streetscapes

According to the site plan, Johnson Street and Glenwood Avenue will get wider sidewalks then currently in place. Brick and concrete will be added from the building to the edge of the curb. Street trees will also be added to both streets with grated wells over the roots.

Currently on Johnson Street there are four power poles next to where the Hampton Inn will go. The site plan shows the outermost poles remaining but the inner two being removed for the brick paver and entry canopy. I’m not quite sure if that means we will see buried power lines entirely or not.

New streetlights and a bike rack will also be installed on Johnson Street.

Extra Thoughts

There’s a nice mural along Johnson Street that will be lost with the building’s demolition. It’s not enough reason to hold up the project by any means but I appreciate that kind of street art and do not want to see clean boxes replace real character in Glenwood South.

One thing I really like about the plan is how parking will be handled. No new parking deck will be built and spaces will be shared with the 510 Glenwood deck. This is a more efficient use of space and easily lowers the cost to the builder. Bravo!

Regardless of a rather unattractive building, we should only wish it success. A hotel breaking ground in Glenwood South shows the momentum that the entertainment district has and if the 126 rooms inside can stay full then someone new will come in and raise the bar sometime down the road. More hotel rooms are needed in downtown and they will help us land larger events at the convention center, which drives more business.

Failed Outdoor Seating Plans Re-visited

I’m not reporting any plans for outdoor seating currently but just bringing up plans that never came to be. Outdoor seating is probably a subject that I could talk about for hours and there are some great opportunities for more in downtown Raleigh.

On a gorgeous day this weekend, I walked up Glenwood South and was reminded of old plans that never came to be. Some of you may remember the news of the parking spaces in front of the building with Sushi Blues and Zely & Ritz that were to become outdoor seating areas. It has been almost two years now and if you look at the picture above, I think we can say that those plans were ditched.

All I heard is that the building’s fire code would not allow them to create the outdoor restaurant space without a hefty renovation. I have not verified this with anyone so take it with a grain of salt. But going with it, it is obvious that the building was never designed with intentions of outdoor seating in mind so it’s a shame we missed this opportunity. I’m all for less parking spaces and more people spaces.

The optimist in me says that one day it could happen. If this property, being on a prime location in Glenwood South, continues to be filled with people and lots of foot traffic then the owners are going to see those empty cars taking up space as a complete waste.

This is just one example where the city can act in favor of the comprehensive plan and do away with the parking requirements for a business in downtown. It was most likely, at one point, the city code that drove the kind of front door parking that is here now If owners in this building decide to do away with the spaces then the city should help make it happen.

Glenwood South Ripe For Hotels

Corner of Jones and West Street

When you talk about nightlife in downtown, the conversation must include the five or so blocks of Glenwood Avenue that make up Glenwood South. The mistress of downtown really gets lively on the weekends and if anyone has walked down her sidewalks on a nice Saturday night, then you know what I mean by lively. To me, there is a lot of energy in the air when the streets are crowded with cars and people are walking around, enjoying themselves in this entertainment district. Fayetteville Street is real nice and I have fun in that area but the crowds and traffic really do hover around Glenwood; you can’t deny it! With all this traffic, car and foot, it is good that hotel developments are in the works. The convention center helps drive this as I’ve seen many times convention goers riding the R-Line through Glenwood South. A hotel that is right in the middle of so much activity would be very appealing to those visiting the city.

Recently, there have been reports that two hotels are to be built in Glenwood South but no real work has begun yet. We await the start of the 10-story Powerhouse Plaza located on Jones and West Streets. Right now, the lot has been cleared and a sign has been placed out front letting people know what the future will be. The rendering looks promising and plans for ground floor retail are included. This would be a great addition to an already busy pedestrian intersection at Jones and West.

A Hampton Inn hotel is said to be in the works at the corner of Glenwood and Johnson Street. The initial reaction of the online peanut gallery has not been favorable to ‘just a Hampton Inn’. I believe we should wait and see what is proposed rather then speculate off very little information. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to the rest of the houses on the 600 block of Glenwood as the area becomes more popular and more traffic moves down it over the years.

Source – News & Observer, Glenwood South Hotel Proposed

Corner of Glenwood and Johnson Street