Pic of the Week

Email readers: This blog post has a virtual reality image. Read the post on the blog to see it. Click Here.

Dillon. #downtownraleigh

A post shared by Leo Suarez (@dtraleigh) on

I’m getting lots of love on the above photo I posted on Instagram and wanted to share it here on the blog. The portico at the corner of West and Martin is pretty striking and screams industrial. It has a great look and feel, showing off the “guts” of the brick warehouse. It brings it outward for a passerby to enjoy.

In addition, I popped a 360 photo of the portico for readers to see also. Enjoy!

A Walk Down South West Street

Looking South down South West Street.

Looking South down South West Street. January 2018.

As a compliment to a 2016 post on North West Street, today I wanted to take a look down South West Street. West Street through downtown is becoming an important corridor and from one end to the other, there are projects taking place that may make it a pretty desirable street in the future.

In case you weren’t aware, the directional prefixes for streets running north and south start at Hillsborough Street (west of the Capitol) and New Bern Avenue. (East of the Capitol) Hence, we start our walk at Hillsborough Street.

New developments and businesses are great but we always have to give a nod to the old favorites that have been threw a lot. I want to give a quick shout out to The Roast Grill, having been at this spot on 7 South West Street since 1940.

Photo of The Roast Grill.

The Roast Grill, open since 1940.

Will they make it to a hundred years? Time will tell but I certainly am pulling for them. The TBJ has an article (subscription required) that suggests they aren’t selling out. However, the pressure may rise as nearby developments take shape.

Heading towards the 100 block of South West brings us to the Morgan Street Food Hall. Food halls are a trend that’s happening around the country and Morgan Street will be our first (first, right?) food hall in recent memory. Plan for them to open this Spring.

Construction continues on Morgan Street Food Hall

Construction continues on Morgan Street Food Hall. January 2018.

Citrix employees should be food connoisseurs after that place opens.

The food hall will also get a nice infusion of nearby residents from the residential portion of The Dillon. Residents should be moving in this year and the developer has already landed a few restaurants and retail for the ground-floor spaces. Announced so far, we have:

And there’s plenty of space for more.

The residential units of The Dillon on South down South West Street.

The residential units of The Dillon on South down South West Street. January 2018.

As you walk by the residential units of The Dillon along the 200 block, there’s a sharp contrast between the life that will soon pop here and the still empty warehouse building on the west side. Plans have seemed to come and go for this huge warehouse.

Another Citrix-like rehab could be a decent proposal for this site as it has a large-footprint but hopefully a more mixed-use repurpose can be done. At this time, no plans have been announced.

The office portion of The Dillon.

Looking up at the office spaces at The Dillon. January 2018.

The end of the block approaches the office tower portion of The Dillon and Raleigh Union Station.

West and Martin Street will be a cool intersection I think. The Dillon’s 18 floors will draw activity here during the work days and the retail spaces, CAM, and Union Station will fill in the off hours a bit. I think it’ll feel lively and offer great views towards the downtown core.

Some warehouses nearby are also getting some renovation love. Father and Son’s newest location, the former Flanders Gallery, and the next-door neighbor have visible signs of upkeep.

Union Station is set to open early this year and I think you’ll see a small uptick in visitors as people from all over will come down to check it out. I remember when Fayetteville Street first opened in 2007 and on the first Sunday night after opening (when everything was closed) the street was jammed with cars filled with curiosity.

I think the same thing will happen this year.

Looking at Raleigh Union Station from West Street

Looking at Raleigh Union Station from West Street. January 2018.

Renovated warehouse along West Street.

Renovated warehouses along West Street. January 2018.

New train platform that will serve Raleigh Union Station

New train platform that will serve Raleigh Union Station. January 2018.

At this point, West Street ends but my walk does not.

The city is studying plans to make West Street tunnel beneath the train tracks and connect to itself at Cabarrus Street. The street currently goes below the tracks and turns into the Union Station parking lot so some of the work is already done.

Looking at Raleigh Union Station and The Dillon over West Street

Looking at Raleigh Union Station and The Dillon over West Street. January 2018. Click for larger.

Next to Raleigh Station, you can see how the grid is still aligned and the West Street tunnel would make the grid connect.

West Street across the train tracks

West Street across the train tracks

At Cabarrus, there is the old Raleigh Station, waiting to be demolished sometime this year. The future of this property is still up in the air as Amtrak services and offices will relocate into Union Station.

The 500 block of South West transitions us from the warehouse district into a more residential area.

Condos are planned at the corner of West and Lenoir. The Fairweather plans 45-units in a five-story, modern building. Construction hasn’t started just yet but the announcement of the project claims an early 2019 opening.

Worth mentioning again, one Raleighite has an idea to save two houses on this block of West. When pitched at a city council meeting in December, the idea didn’t fly with some councilors due to the fact that he sits on the city’s planning commission.

Old homes along West Street, planned for demolition.

Old homes along West Street, planned for demolition.

There is a risk of losing these homes that well represent Raleigh’s former Fourth Ward neighborhood, and in addition a plan to offer some affordable housing unless something happens in the near future. Jump back to the full story on this here.

At the corner of West and Lenoir, across from the future Fairweather project, is an old gas station that is planned to be renovated for a restaurant. No work seems to be taking place on the exterior at the moment so perhaps it’s all inside work right now.

Service station with plans for a restaurant.

Service station with plans for a restaurant at the corner of Lenoir and West Streets. January 2018.

Along the 600 block of West, the townhomes called West + Lenoir are wrapping up. These are some of the earliest townhomes to be completed in this area as nearby Fourth Ward and 611 West South have not really begun yet.

West + Lenoir Townhomes

West + Lenoir townhomes. January 2018.

West Street ends at South Street and so does our walk.

Along South, more demolition and construction is taking place as the area turns over. The South Street Market was just recently demolished and the storage facility has recently topped out.

Click here to view the map on Google.

Now that we’re familiar with West Street, I’d like to zoom out a bit. Above is a map of South West Street with highlighted locations from this post. In my opinion, the momentum behind Dix Park and downtown Raleigh put the affordable housing units of Heritage Park in the crosshairs.

I just can’t imagine the investment of over $10 million for a West Street tunnel, “bridging” just two blocks into downtown, is worth it if there was not some other driving force behind it.

When you look at it on a map, there’s no denying the temptation to push West further south, maybe even trying to connect it to Lake Wheeler. That would be a great downtown connection to Dix Park. With current politics, pushing aside Heritage Park wouldn’t be popular. However, from a strictly planning point-of-view, it’s worth a look.

I’m not advocating it. I do think there might be plans for a major road shakeup in this area in the next 3-5 years.

The end of South West Street at South Street.

The end of South West Street at South Street. January 2018.

Either way, West Street will continue to grow and play an important role for downtown in the coming years.

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.

The Dillon Construction Update

The Dillon, August 2017

The Dillon as seen from Hargett Street, August 2017.

2017 has really been quite a year for The Dillon, the mixed-use project in the middle of the warehouse district. While construction started last year, it’s this year that the project rose up and took shape. While the 17-story office tower component continues climbing, the lower levels are getting their facades put into place giving us a small sense of the new built environment in that area.

Furthest along are the residential units. With their real estate team teasing us with apartment, lobby, and rooftop renderings on their Instagram account, you can’t help but get excited for the 400 block of West Hargett. The team wants to put string lights across the street and with face-to-face retail spaces along most of the block, I imagine the spaces could be an easier sell than others.

The Dillon, August 2017

The Dillon residences, facing east on Hargett Street. August 2017.

The Dillon rendering

Brick is a must for a warehouse district apartment, no?

The portico at the corner of West and Martin Street has got my eye. Glass is being put in and with the historic brick warehouse wall creating a kind of “one foot in, one foot out” space between the street and the interior, I think this will be something to enjoy while in the area. (in a subtle way at least)

The Dillon, August 2017

The Dillon, corner of West and Martin Streets. August 2017.

The Dillon, August 2017

The Dillon portico, corner of West and Martin Streets. August 2017.

Martin Street will see a lot of retail as it has the most space. The big news recently was the announcement of an Urban Outfitters for The Dillon but the exact space wasn’t announced.

Speculation points for the new big retail store to go into the spaces along Martin Street as a collective 15,134 square feet exists here. For a reference point, the store in Durham’s Southpoint takes up 11,871 sq. ft. so no doubt they can make it work here.

At the same time though, when combined the two sides to Hargett Street have over 11,000 square feet of retail space. The spaces look tall so if you do a two-story internal store (like the one in Durham) you could make it fit in a smaller footprint.

Catching up on the tower, if you want to count the number of floors rising up, here’s a guide.

The Dillon, August 2017

The Dillon. August 2017.

That’s the ninth floor labeled at the construction elevator so at the time of this writing, floor 14 (15th floor if you skip 13?) is being worked on. No doubt this tower will top out before the end of the year and have a considerable amount of facade put up.

The Dillon, August 2017

The Dillon. August 2017.

A Walk Around The Dillon

The Dillon, April 2017

Corner of Martin and Harrington Streets, April 2017.

Complementing my post earlier in the week about Raleigh Union Station, I also got a feel for the area around The Dillon and snapped some photos of the current progress. It’s going to be quite the “shot in the arm” for the warehouse district once both of these projects are up in running.

Starting at the southern end along Martin Street, the 17-story office tower and parking deck are rising up out of the former Dillon Supply warehouse.

My guess would be that the parking deck construction is trying to coincide with the Union Station opening. Residential and office may come online later but again, just a guess as the city pushed hard for nearby parking options for the station.

The Dillon, April 2017

The old windows along Martin showing the new structure within.

The Dillon, April 2017

Corner of West and Martin Streets, April 2017.

The greatest transformation may take place down Martin at West. New development seems to be taking place at almost every corner.

Seeing The Dillon on this side gives you a sense of how connected The Dillon and the station are to each other. The office tower here with ground-floor retail should create a sense of energy to those coming to or leaving the train station. You can see the city skyline in the short distance but feel that you are close with The Dillon across the street.

I’d be interested to see if West and Martin will be getting proper crosswalks with street lights. The sidewalks should be completely redone so a once sleepy dead end may be drastically changed in the near future.

The Dillon, April 2017

Staring south down West at Hargett Street, April 2017.

Around West and Hargett Streets, the residential portions of The Dillon are beginning to start. The main section south of Hargett has the bottom floor built up with the northern side showing wood-built apartments on the second floor.

Hargett is blocked to traffic right now due to the construction but there is room to walk through. Seeing steel floors on both sides of Hargett where surface parking used to be is pretty exciting, I have to admit.

The Dillon, April 2017

Staring east down Hargett Street, April 2017.

The Dillon, April 2017

Staring west down Hargett Street, April 2017.

The Dillon is a project that will activate Hargett and Martin Streets. The concentration of retail along these corridors helps to support planning efforts within our current downtown plan. With these blocks active, this will pave the way to string more blocks together along Hargett and Martin.

This is indeed a fun project to follow.

Pic of the Week

Email readers: This blog post has a virtual reality image. Read the post on the blog to see it.

If you haven’t been by in awhile, there is a lot of activity taking place around The Dillon site. The parking deck is starting to rise up and both apartment buildings are in the beginning phases of their work. I’m referring to the ones on both sides of Hargett Street.

Enjoy the VR view, taken on February 21 as I get back into my blog rhythm.