A Walk Around Seaboard Station

In December 2018, it was announced that a developer had been selected to buy parts of Seaboard Station from the owner, William Peace University. Plans for new development are underway including apartments, hotel space, and more retail.

From the press release:

PN Hoffman, the developer of premier urban communities across the Washington Metropolitan Area including the $2.5 billion Washington, DC, waterfront neighborhood The Wharf, along with William Peace University and TradeMark Properties today announced PN Hoffman’s purchase of Seaboard Station in the north end of downtown Raleigh. The expansive $250 million project will be built in three phases and consist of approximately 800,000 square feet of mixed-use space at full build-out.

….

Additional details include:
Approximately 650 Apartments
Approximately 150 Hotel keys
Approximately 90,000 square feet of new retail space and a total of 135,000 SF of retail space at full build-out

see Press Release

With this news, Seaboard Station has the potential to really break out from just a destination but into a district with its own personality. I thought this would be a good time to walk around and grab some photos of the area.

If you are not familiar, Seaboard Station consists of a hodge-podge of brick buildings from the 1950s and 1960s with Peace Street acting like the main “frontage” of the area. In addition to the former railroad station that now houses Logan‘s, a long-running garden shop, the businesses here make up Seaboard Station and are marketed as a destination.

Aerial shot of Seaboard Station from Bing Maps. Click for larger.

With the buildings built slowly over time, it’s doubtful that a master plan for the area ever existed so we have a frankenstein-esque retail area that represents the car-centric era that it was built. With a stagnating downtown in the 60s, you can see that no real urban feel exists in Seaboard Station with the development at that time.

Bolstered by downtown’s growth and surge of new residents in recent history, Seaboard Station has had a big increase in new tenants. Renovations have brought existing spaces to market but no new space has been built.

The one-story buildings dominate the landscape here with streets that are awkward to navigate and parking plentiful. There’s no real public space and even gravel parking lots sit empty giving the area a dull, uninteresting feel at times.

It’s best to just drive in, get what you want and leave.

Plenty of parking at Seaboard Station

The potential here though is that all this space can be used for wide sidewalks and plazas. Building upward is almost mandatory.

Indeed, the new owners have announced that the first phase of the development will include a hotel. Hotel visitors will want to be able to walk to places so anything nearby within Seaboard Station would be highly considered.

In the future, as Peace Street gets its road diet and Smokey Hollow continues to extend Glenwood South closer to Seaboard Station, Peace Street might become a destination street linking both areas together.

We’re following Seaboard Station in-depth over on the Community so come join the conversation.

Upcoming: Smokey Hollow, Peace Street, and Seaboard Station

This is what it is like to take a walk downtown with @dtraleigh

A photo posted by Jennifer Suarez (@jenniferraleigh) on

Readers of the blog should not be surprised that there is a lot of momentum coming soon to Peace Street. The Smoky Hollow project near Peace and West, Devereux Meadow park, the new Capital Boulevard bridge, and new developments in Seaboard Station, including a Harris Teeter, are all going to dramatically change the look of Peace Street.

I went out there to take photos and I’m putting some lengthier stuff together, which I hope to finish soon.

Speaking of the bridge over Peace, put August 18 on your calendar as a public meeting about the Capital Boulevard bridge replacement project is planned.

Stay tuned.

The State of Seaboard Station

Seaboard Station

Seaboard Station sits at the northern end of downtown Raleigh and is a unique area compared to Glenwood South or Fayetteville Street. Over the last few years, the area seems to be riding with the downtown revitalization wave but there’s just something that’s holding it back. Why don’t people come to Seaboard and stay for awhile? I’ve always felt like the area was convenient for quickly getting there, but just the same, easy enough to get right out.

The Shops at Seaboard Station website plays on the locally owned theme of restaurants and services. 18 Seaboard and J. Betski’s have been serving at Seaboard for a few years now and the recently opened Tyler’s Taproom seems to be an instant favorite. While not included on their website, Sunflower’s needs a big nod for doing business here for almost thirty years.

In retail, Seaboard is creating a little variety for shoppers. Logan Trading Co. may be the anchor tenant and the family-owned garden shop has been open since 1991. Over the last few years, places like Seaboard Wine, Ace Hardware, and O2 Fitness have moved in to diversify the list of services.

But the most dramatic story in recent history may be what happened in 2007. A grocery store, Capital City Grocery, opened in Seaboard Station with high anticipation. The news was all over it, saying it was the pinnacle of downtown Raleigh’s re-birth. However, over time the hype died down and reviews were mixed about the store. For whatever reason, the grocery store closed and re-opened in 2008, only to close permanently later that year.

Around that same time, condo projects were even planned for Seaboard Station. The 111 Seaboard condos were planned along Seaboard Avenue but that project never came to be. Now, the empty building will not be razed for development but renovated for more retail spaces.

Today, Seaboard Station has a few new tenants in addition to the previously mentioned with plenty of empty space for more.

Empty Storefronts at Seaboard Station
Empty Storefronts at Seaboard Station

The events, the largest probably being the Music on the Porch series during the warmer months, have been fine but what will it take for Seaboard Station to naturally be a hub of activity?

The area has some natural obstacles all around it. To the south, the black hole that is the state government complex will almost never contribute more than a steady lunch crowd. The customer base to the east is not growing much with Peace College and the Mordecai and Oakwood neighborhoods. The area is also cut off somewhat with the train tracks to the north and Capital Blvd to the west. The area is somewhat isolated.

Seaboard’s contribution to downtown is not urban at all so its suburban nature makes it compete with other places of similar style. The vast parking lots make it easier for cars to go in and out so it is now competing with other shopping centers around the city. If I have to drive to Seaboard Station, then why choose that area if getting to someplace better outside of downtown is just as easy now that I’ve made the decision to drive? You can see it in the map below.

In my opinion, Seaboard Station cannot do it alone and needs to be tied into a few other projects in order for it to be a place to stay awhile. The Blount Street Commons project that essentially stalled when the economy went bad a few years ago needs to be re-energized in some way. More residents need to move into the northern end of downtown to feed Seaboard. The Capital Blvd Corridor study will also be a huge factor in realizing Seaboard’s potential. This study also includes a Peace Street corridor redesign which could greatly improve Peace Street.

The location is great but the barriers are too restrictive at the moment for Seaboard Station. The current stop on the R-Line is another plus but even greater connectivity is needed for this area to feel like an integral part of downtown Raleigh.

Peace China Hopefully Opening Soon

It has been awhile since I last checked up on Peace China over in Seaboard Station. The once empty space now only needs the food to finish it off. The signs are up on the building and a visual menu is displayed inside. The website for the shops at Seaboard says it is coming soon. However, since they still encourage people to come out and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day; I’d take that information with a grain of salt.