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Apr
18

Publix Coming to Downtown Raleigh

According to trusted sources it appears that Publix will be the major tenant to the Kane Realty project coming to N. West St. in downtown Raleigh. The site, currently occupied by the ThemeWorks and Southland Ballroom, is zoned for 12 stories. So, perhaps, a mixed use project with a ground or second-level grocery is planned.

The site is in an area of NW downtown set to see some major changes. With the NCDOT bridge project set to offload Capital Blvd to eastbound Peace Street traffic via Johnson Street (pdf plan), we are set to see a major amount of redevelopment happen between Capital Blvd and the railroad tracks. Publix will be a perfect fit for this project.

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Sep
03

Appearance Commission to Review Residence Inn

residence1The Raleigh Appearance Commission meets tomorrow, and among the items on their agenda is the planned Residence Inn for downtown Raleigh. The 9-story hotel is rumored to feature a “rooftop” bar, but will primary serve as a secondary hotel for those attending events in the adjacent convention center.

The building will use four materials on the surface: EFIS and three tones of brick. The street level tone of brick will be beige while the upper floors will feature brick of red and hulking grey tones. The building only gets EFIS treatments on its crown.

Overall the look is modern, urban, boxy with surfaces broken up by varying textures and materials. There are no vast expanses of a single material. Instead, the architects have presented a very busy looking building that is neither an eyesore nor a beauty nor bland.

I really like that the design continues the dedicated 2-story façade for the first two floors, as we have seen in so many projects in the last decade. The effect is that the streetspace feels wider than it would if the building were the same material from sidewalk to roof. (The rule is that the façade needs to change before it gets to the height that matches the width of the street, btw).

residence3While I appreciate that this building is not a stark, unimaginative box, I do think the designers have gone a bit overboard with the heterogeneity of materials. I am not a fan of brick red and gray together, so obviously I don’t like the material choices. Also, I like the signage at street level, especially the vertically-oriented signs. However whoever designed the “Residence Inn” sign for the building’s crown must have happy-clicked on the kerning settings because it looks like a giant mistake.

We all wanted Greg Hatem’s dream of a skyline-impacting, boutique hotel with a signature rooftop restaurant to get built on this plot of land. However this hotel will be a nice addition to downtown and will help the sorely underserved hotel market for downtown. There are plenty of other sites where we can eventually get that boutique hotel, so until then, lets keep going up!

* * *

The Appearance Commission will discuss this project during their meeting tomorrow, September 4, at 4:30 in the City Council Chambers.

residence2

Jul
15

Edison Office Tower Heads to Appearance Commission

edisonofficeOn Thursday at 4:30pm the Raleigh Appearance Commission will review plans detailing the latest design for the Edison Office building. The building, according to the site plan (pdf) will sit in the northwest quadrant of the block bounded by Wilmington, Martin, Blount, and Davie Streets, across from the side of Beasley’s, replacing the building containing Reliable Loan,

The current plan calls for a 17-story tower that is 301-feet high, about 9% taller than the Progress Energy Tower (former City Plaza building). Plans call for the project to contain 417,000 feet of office space, parking garage space for 328 spaces, and 3 ground-level retail spaces, and an elevator lobby fronting Martin Street. There will be 6 combination parking/office floors sitting atop the street-level retail, capped by 11 full office floors.

The Appearance Commission’s duties will be light with this project, as they will likely deal mostly with streetscape elements of the plan. One such that needs to be addressed is the standard U-shaped bike racks. A more creative design would give this project and downtown much more character. Perhaps a light bulb shape as a nod to Edison’s most popular invention?

The site plan offers much detail about the ground floor and a typical parking floor, but isn’t clear about parking access. On the floors with parking, this project will neatly abut the existing parking garage originally built for the block’s four corner projects. Perhaps access will simply be from critical access points in the existing structure.

This will be a nice, early century addition to Raleigh, offering some much needed, class A office space to a market that is at capacity. How does the project fall short? Though I really like the Red Hat Tower, this project is a slightly taller duplicate, and will sit one block north of Red Hat. Yes, this project fits the needs of today’s market, however this land is one of the few places where an impact tower could be added to fill out Raleigh’s “money shot”. Given the appearance of this building’s crown, this project will add nothing interesting to that view. So in that sense, it is a lost opportunity.

May
19

Crawford Leaves Herons for New Hospitality Group

stdfoodsMore big news from Raleigh’s culinary scene…. Scott Crawford, the chef at Heron’s (in The Umstead) for the last 5 years, has left the restaurant and has joined with John Holmes of Hobby Properties to form the Nash Square Hospitality Group.

The group has two concepts underway, Standard Foods and The Nash Tavern. Standard Foods will be a grocery store/restaurant located in Person Street Plaza (map it) and will open in the Fall. The store will contain an 80-seat restaurant serving casual Southern cuisine (eg. chilled Strawberry Soup with yuzu and jalapeno, Fresh Bacon with Boiled Peanut Chowder, marble potatoes & leeks, Tomato Popsicles with spicy pickled okra, fried Rabbit with succotash, Pork Cheeks with pickled peppers & apricot mustard, puddings, pies and peach-ginger sorbet). The grocery end of the concept is slated to feature a whole animal butchery, brown butter, duck fat, demi-glace, stocks, and a fresh seafood selection.

Nash Tavern will be a full-service restaurant on Nash Square, and is slated to open in 2015. It will feature Modern American fare and will have private event space.

May
14

Maybe the Foxes Are Sending “Triangle” a Message

RTP_DogFor five decades now the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area has been termed “The Triangle”, and for good reason. As three cities/towns hosted the most important academic, medical and business centers, it was only natural to focus on the three entities. While we expected infill in The Triangle, we perhaps didn’t see our grown concentrations morph the area into a different shape; a red fox.

The area’s satellite imagery reveals much growth from Chapel Hill and Carrboro toward Raleigh, but Raleigh’s growth has been along outward spokes to the northeast, southeast, and southwest. According to the figure, Umstead park appears like a saddle on the little fox, and Jordan Lake looks like a long line of droll from Carrboro/Chapel Hill, the mouth of the dog.

While I’m not assigning any character traits to communities based on this morphology, the shape does spur some interesting questions such as:

  • Why hasn’t Creedmoor Road/hwy 50 seen any retail development?
  • Why has the Apex/Garner axis been kept so rural?
  • Why has the Durham/Wake Forest axis been kept so rural?

Maybe these little red foxes that are invading our cities are simply a calling; the new mascots for the area. Instead of “The Triangle”, we could be called “The Fox”. The airport code could be changed to “FOX”. The 10 o’clock news could be the Fox News Hour….oh wait.

May
08

Curated Stringed Instrument/Wine Event Coming to Downtown

MeritageLogo2014_1

On Saturday, May 24 Pasewicz String Instrument will present Meritage, a unique show featuring fine wine, instruments, and music. Attendees will have the opportunity to see and hear some of the finest stringed instruments in the country, and hear a sampling of of works from artists like Mendelssohn, Schubert, and Brahms. Some anticipated instruments on display are over 200 years old.

The event is presented by Pasewicz String Instrument, a Raleigh-based instrument shop which has earned a reputation for being one of the finest instrument repair and craft shops in the country.

The event takes place from 6 to 11pm in the AIANC Center for Architecture & Design, and advance tickets are $18.

Feb
04

West II Bringing More Apartments to Downtown

WestIIAs Raleigh’s booming apartment demand continues, developers continue to try to keep pace. The next compact, large apartment complex comes to the Glenwood South area. “West Apartments II”, a project by West at North developer Greg Sandreuter, will bring 177 apartment units to the intersection of Harrington and Johnson Streets, adjacent to West at North’s Northeast corner. The 5-story project is designed by J Davis, and, according to the Preliminary Site PlanPreliminary Site Plan, features a couple of stories of interior parking garage (that connect into West at North), bike storage, a pool (non-rooftop), and garden areas. Elevations indicate small street-level retail spaces, much like those at West at North, however floorplans don’t specify any detail about this.

It appears that Sandreuter learned many lessons from West at North, the large, tall, overbuilt condo building. This project seems to be much more to scale with the future streetscape of the area, so its residents will remain in touch with the vibe at street level unlike those stuck up high in West at North. West II will be a success because of its location; adjacent to one of the most walkable and popular areas in NC for singles yet car-friendly.

There are several areas, however, where this project could be improved. The façade features beige and red brick, along with EIFS siding in its higher floors. Much like condo projects on Glenwood, Tucker, and Oberlin, this project completely lacks architectural flair, and will do nothing to visually stand out among comparable projects.

WestII_layoutThe floorplan features around 34 units per floor, all situated around wells overlooking five different courtyards. In order to accomplish these C-shaped clusters of apartments, the architect chose to implement odd, triangle-shaped units to round the corners. In fact about 15 of the 34 units (44%) on each floor are essentially triangles. This will make for many decorating headaches and/or wasted spaces.

* * *

The low-lying area bounded by Peace, Capital Blvd, Edenton Street, and the railroad track (which overpasses Peace) is the area of downtown with the most potential to be a livable, serviceable neighborhood with excellent transit access. The blocks are currently littered with light industrial one-story buildings of no historic or architectural value, so it is an area that will most certainly be 100% replaced in the next couple of decades.

Raleigh needs to proceed carefully here, though, because the potential for the area is so great. How much retail vs. residential spaces is needed in this rectangle? Does Raleigh want Peace Street’s south edge to be lined with retail and car-centric, or should Peace Street just be a thoroughfare for cars to efficiently move without interaction with pedestrians and erratic retail traffic?

This is the prime area for an impressive downtown grocery store. Publix has expressed interest in opening a store in downtown Raleigh, but national fresh-focused chains like Sprouts and Earth Fare are expanding to/in this area as well. Add to those three the fact that Whole Foods on Wade Avenue is bursting at the seams and cannot meet demand. With these safe blocks of blank canvas in the heart of a booming apartment market, it is almost a slam dunk to expect an excellent grocer to strongly consider this zone of downtown.

Instead of one of these grocers entering this area of downtown with a low, large-footprint store and a  sea of parking, wouldn’t it be neat if the store, its parking, and some residential were all combined into one complex? Whole Foods’ home office in Austin sits above two levels of parking garage accessible by travelator, but includes a moderately sized office highrise in the complex as well. A project like West II would be much better for the area if its street level access did more for the neighborhood than just offering a couple of garage accesses. This is be no means the criteria for success for all apartment projects in downtown, however it is a way of thinking that developers need to adopt. There is much money to be made in the downtown grocery business, and the developer who gets it right, first, will profit greatly while offering downtown residents a great service.

West Apartments II will be reviewed by the Planning Commission on Thursday (2/6) at 4:30pm.

map it

Dec
03

Beer Garden Coming to Glenwood South

The Hibernian group has submitted plans to the city for a beer garden-type bar. The plan calls for the non-descript 2-story building at 614 Glenwood, next to Harry’s Guitar shop, to be converted into a small bar with a large outdoor patio in the side and back yards. The site will likely offer a neat getaway with good views of downtown.

Apr
11

Charter Square Enters New Chapter with Announcement

CharterSquare_2013Today city officials and developers joined together to announce the new plan for Charter Square. The 11-story project will contain 225,000 square feet of commercial space in a single glass tower. Currently 35,000 of the space is committed. Some of that space will be another ground floor restaurant by Echelon Hospitality. Construction is set to begin this fall, with a 1-year construction window.

The newest chapter in Charter Square is led by developer Dominion Realty Partners and architect JDavis. The site occupies the east half of the footprint of the former Raleigh Civic Center and was once referred to as “Site One”. The project vision was for a two-tower mixed use development with one tower containing residential and the other commercial. As part of the development of the Convention Center and Marriott hotel, the City of Raleigh moved forward with the underground parking garage construction for the Charter Square plan.

Then 2009 happened, and the economy hit developers in every city hard. The new project will still be built on top of that investment. Thankfully the climate is such that progress on this site can move forward once and for all.

map it

Mar
18

Ben Folds Five, Guster Joining BNL at Red Hat Amphitheater

Ben Fold Five announced today that they will tour this summer with Barenaked Ladies and Guster. The “Last Summer On Earth Tour 2013”. The 29 date tour’s apocalypse comes in Brooklyn, but not before the tour’s penultimate show at Raleigh’s Red Hat Amphitheater on Sunday, July 28.

BNL Fanclub presale tickets will be available tomorrow (Tue, 3/19) at 10am. Citi Cardmember presale is Wed at 10. LiveNation’s presale is Thu at 10.

Feb
25

The National / Dirty Projectors Coming to Raleigh

thenationalOn Monday, June 10, The National comes to Raleigh’s Red Hat Amphitheater. The band announced today that they will be supporting their first CD in three years, to be released on May 4. The Dirty Projectors will open the show, a full 15 months after the release of their brilliant Swing Lo Magellan CD.

For tickets, the presale begins Wednesday (2/27) morning at 10am (pw: dazzle), while the General Public sale comes Friday morning at 10.

Jul
20

Lincoln Theatre Announces Slate of Big Shows

Recently the Lincoln Theatre announced a nice group of shows to their late Summer/Fall lineup:

…and others!

May
17

Oro Opens Sunday

oroHere is the press release for the first restaurant to open in the base of the PNC Plaza in downtown Raleigh.:

ORO Restaurant & Lounge located in the PNC Building in Downtown Raleigh, opens for dinner on Sunday, May 20, 2012. ORO, meaning “gold” in Spanish and Italian, features generously portioned, sharable tapas-style comfort food re-interpreted for a modern palate.

Executive Chef and owner Christopher Hylton is a global traveler who brings tastes, textures and flavors from around the world to ORO’s eclectic seasonal menu. Guests can dine on Fried Softshell Crab with Apricot Jalapeno Vinaigrette served with Mango Jicama Salad, Filet Mignon in Sake Brine with Crispy Onions, or Red and Golden Beet Salad with Pickled Watermelon and Smoked Goat Cheese, all for under $15 per item.

In addition, ORO features a custom vertical wine carousel and an innovative 16 wine on-tap system pouring extraordinary wines by the 2 oz., 4 oz., 6 oz. or 8 oz. glass. Guests can opt to try three different wines or hand-crafted cocktails at once by ordering ORO’s customizable samplers.
“ORO was born from love, patience, and a desire to bring a big city dining feel to Raleigh,” said co-owner Cara Zalcberg Hylton, who along husband Christopher Hylton has spent the past three years painstakingly selecting every detail of the restaurant to create just the right experience.
From soft and supple white leather chairs to striking, signature vintage glass chandeliers, ORO’s look and feel is a seemingly effortless balance of elegance and comfort that, like its food, is meant to be savored and shared.

For the high-tech inclined, or anyone who just wants a perfectly timed meal, ORO is using a first-in-North Carolina Apple iPad app that enables servers to send orders to the bar or kitchen instantaneously from the table.

Owned and operated by Hyton Hospitality, ORO is located at 18 East Martin Street in the PNC Building (at the corner of Martin and Wilmington Streets in Downtown Raleigh). Monday through Friday, ORO serves lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, ORO serves dinner 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The restaurant is open until midnight on Friday and Saturday and 9:00 p.m. on Sunday.

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