Raleigh Union Station is Now Open

Raleigh Union Station sign

After a few delays (which we’ll all forget about in no time) Raleigh Union Station is now officially open and taking/dropping off passengers. There are a total of 10 daily trains coming and going and the size of the station leaves plenty of room for growth. It is a true future-proof station.

The station is inviting and, locally, it’s a destination so make some time to get down and visit if you haven’t been.

While not a hub of activity at this time, the station felt exactly the same to me the day I walked down Fayetteville Street in 2006 the weekend it first opened. The street was dramatically changed from a pedestrian mall to the street we have today. The day after a huge parade and party to celebrate the opening of the street, there weren’t that many people there. It was still quiet.

It was still a ghost town.

That’s change, of course, and I think the same will happen here, we’ll grow into this new station. The downtown culture will embrace it. I see the station enabling new things that we couldn’t have before.

The opening has been fun but watching it being absorbed over the next few years is really just the start!

Raleigh Union Station plaza

How do you see yourself using the station? Join the discussion on the DTRaleigh Community.

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.

Pic of the Week

Raleigh Amtrak Station, October 2017

Raleigh Amtrak Station, October 2017

Happy New Year all!

Shown above is a photo of the Raleigh Amtrak Station in October 2017. I show this because the Triangle Business Journal had an article stating that once our new train station, Raleigh Union Station, opens this year the former station will be demolished.

Perhaps the archivists, including myself, need to get down there to photograph the station before it’s cleared.

The North Carolina Railroad Company, owners of the building and nearby property, have not announced any firm plans yet for that area. Your guess is as good as mine but I’m betting on a more functional use such as surface parking for train-related or utility-type vehicles. (at least for the foreseeable future)

Scoping Out Raleigh Union Station

Raleigh Union Station, April 2017

I walked around West and Martin Streets this weekend to check out Raleigh Union Station. Photos are great but walking the area gives you a sense that it is coming together and you can feel how you’ll interact with the new train station once it is open. (as much as the construction fences would allow anyway)

Today’s update shows the entrance to the station at the end of Martin Street at West. The metal awning (better name?) is up, shown above, and to the right will be the pedestrian plaza. Currently a parking lot for heavy equipment, you can sneak a glance at the space and how it will become the gateway in and out of the city through the station.

Here, pedestrians will go underneath some train tracks and then back up into the station.

Raleigh Union Station, April 2017

To the left is the street entrance for vehicles to go through, leading up to a roundabout for easy drop off/pick up. You can see the new train “bridge” that was built in order to have all the entrances separated from the tracks of the Boylan Wye. Similar to the pedestrian entrance, vehicles will go underneath the tracks, the “bridge” that was added here.

Raleigh Union Station, April 2017

Finally, the end of West Street is a massive hole, going below grade in order to turn under the same tracks of the Boylan Wye in order to loop back into the roundabout. Those last few warehouses look so isolated in the photo below. I wonder if they will last much longer?

West Street at Martin, April 2017

Here are a few renderings and maps to show what is being worked on today along West Street.

Raleigh Union Station rendering

Raleigh Union Station rendering

Raleigh Union Station map

Click for larger

Raleigh Union Station Construction Update

Boylan Wye and Raleigh Union Station Construction, October 2016.

Boylan Wye and Raleigh Union Station Construction, October 2016. Click for larger.

We haven’t visited the construction site for Raleigh Union Station in a few months and this weekend, I went out to catch up on the progress. The weather was nice and the clouds were amazing, helping me land some great exposures of the site.

The photo above is the “money shot” of the station, taken from the Boylan Avenue bridge. A lot has happened since I grabbed a photo from the same spot in April.

Looking around we can spot a few things taking shape. Check the above photo out on Flickr so you can zoom in, out, and around.

In the foreground in front of the Dillon Supply Co. sign, the ticketing and baggage claim area is coming together. This area will also house Amtrak offices and general operations rooms.

The station will actually be bigger than the old warehouse that was at this location as this kind of exoskeleton of steel is starting to wrap it.

Boylan Wye and Raleigh Union Station Construction, October 2016.

Boylan Wye and Raleigh Union Station Construction, October 2016 as seen from Hargett Street.

It wasn’t much of a renovation but rather a reuse of some parts (and that’s still a stretch) as the building was gutted to the bones. This new framing should create the spaces for the new retail and restaurant space and their outdoor balconies and walkways.

I can probably guess that the mound of earth around the site came from the Union Station project as lots of land had to be moved for the parking lot and the new entrance along West Street.

Boylan Wye and Raleigh Union Station Construction, October 2016.

West Street being lowered to go into the parking lot of Union Station.

Above, you can see what the end of West Street looks like today. This mess will eventually have West Street going underneath the rail line and into the station. For additional reference, I’ve thrown up the site plan, with a few minor edits, which you can see how vehicle traffic is supposed to flow.

Raleigh Union Station site plan.

Raleigh Union Station site plan. Click for larger.

The last major thing I noticed was the process of working with the tracks themselves.

Track work taking pace around Raleigh Union Station.

Track work taking pace around Raleigh Union Station, near Cabarrus Street. Click for larger.

Track work taking pace around Raleigh Union Station.

Track work taking pace around Raleigh Union Station, near Cabarrus Street. Click for larger.

Looking at the station from Cabarrus Street, you will notice that only the active line to the current train station is intact. The rails on the left in the two photos above serve the station today while the rails on the right end before the construction site. It looks like that line is down for awhile until the bridge is built over the lowered West Street.

There also used to be other rail lines, two of these offshoot kind of tracks, in this area but those are gone now. Here’s an aerial shot from Google Maps to show you the four tracks mentioned here.

Track work taking pace around Raleigh Union Station.

Track work taking pace around Raleigh Union Station. Click for larger.

No doubt, this track rearrangement is making room for the new platform that will take passengers through a concourse underneath and between two new tracks. You can see that if you jump back up to the site plan.

Here are some other photos from my walk around the site.

Raleigh Union Station in October 2016 as seen from Hargett Street.

Raleigh Union Station in October 2016 as seen from Hargett Street.

Raleigh Union Station in October 2016 as seen from West Street.

Raleigh Union Station in October 2016 as seen from West Street.

Weekend Exposure: The Boiling Wye

The Boylan Wye, April 2016

The Boylan Wye, April 2016. Click for larger

I call it the “Boiling” Wye as the activity has really heated up!

The photo above was taken from the Boylan Avenue bridge and ahead of the Raleigh skyline, you can see the construction site of the upcoming Raleigh Union Station. More than the building itself, work is/will be taking place for the parking lot, concourse, and new platforms at the tracks.