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Jul
08

Forecast: Snow

Smell that paper mill smell in the air? That means snow. (Miss Reid didn’t think I was paying attention in 1st grade, but obviously I was). This is one of those observations you’ll hear from area natives.

It actually does have merit when the temps are appropriate. If I recall correctly, the smell is from one of those smaller towns to the NW, like Reidsville. When we get snow, it is usually preceded by air from that direction.

Jul
07

Boylan Bridge Brewpub Opens Soon

The wait is (finally) almost over. The much-anticipated Boylan Bridge Brewpub will open on August 25, 2008. Andrew Leager, owner of the Special Projects cabinet shop, decided a few years ago that he should take his beer-making hobby public. The brewing operation will be in-house, in the industrial setting of the brewpub.

As reported earlier , the pub was to be named “Sidetrack Brewpub” until Leager received notices from a similarly named operation in Chicago. Because the pub will sit adjacent to Boylan Avenue’s railroad bridge, in April Leager opted to change the name to one honoring one of Raleigh’s historic bridge sites (scroll to the bottom).

Jul
07

Longbranch Shuts Down

longbranch Earlier in the year the Longbranch file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, but it wasn’t enough. As the N&O’s David Menconi reports , local country hotspot The Longbranch has shut its doors.

Jul
05

Jibarra Moving Downtown

jibarra_logo Upscale Mexican restaurant Jibarra is moving to The Depot complex downtown in “early Fall”. The restaurant’s current location will close on August 3 and convert to El Rodeo.

“I’ve been extremely impressed by the present and future plans for the downtown area; we obtained an excellent location, a space situated in the Historic Depot, and feel it has the makings to become a vibrant, contemporary Mexican restaurant,” owner Joel Ibarra explained.

The new restaurant will move away the existing chic, contemporary decor and go with a more industrial look. New City Design , which previously worked with Porter’s, Duck and Dumpling, and Fins, will handle the design.

I love what Jibarra is striving to be. The menu has disappeared from the website, but it is a restaurant aiming at difficult Mexican food similar to Rick Bayless’ and Rosa Mexicano’s (warning: music) cuisines. Jibarra will still offer dishes such at Conchinta Pibil (a Yucatecan specialty in which pork is marinated in sour oranges and annatto seeds) and Cabrito (a slow roasted young goat left on the bone that reaches fork tenderness), as well as their robust tequila menu.

My numerous experiences have been mostly hits, and Jibarra is an unequivocal asset to Raleigh. The new downtown location will be even better fit for their concept. I think this move officially marks North Raleigh as “Dead”.

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Jul
04

Displaying Her With Etiquette

Don’t forget, regardless of portrait or landscape orientation, the proper way to display the flag (for this purpose) is with the stars on the upper left . The photo on the left, which appears on the back page of today’s North Raleigh Observer, shows a house of patriots who simply rotated their flag 90 degrees. They needed to rotate and flip , like North Hills did, to put the stars in the right place.

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Jul
03

The Hayes Barton Story

At 1330 St. Marys an outdated office building is being gutted and reinvented. The office building was originally designed for doctors offices supporting the former Rex Hospital across the street. The hospital moved to its current location in 1980, and the building has seen better days. The Lewis Group has high hopes for their project, and has a website for the project that includes much information, including an nice summary about the Hayes Barton neighborhood:

The finest representation of Raleigh’s upper class domestic architecture is found in Hayes-Barton, a ca. 1920 suburb named for Sir Walter Raleigh’s birthplace in Devon, England.  Hayes-Barton is bordered by Glenwood Avenue, Fairview Road, Williamson Drive and St. Mary’s Street and is abundant with Pecan and Willow Oaks as well as faithful reproductions of Georgian and Colonial Revival homes that date back to the mid 1920s. Hayes-Barton remains an area of impeccably manicured landscapes and well-maintained facades, and still houses many of the capital city’s most politically and socially influential citizens.

Before the Raleigh city limits extension of 1920, the Five Points intersection consisted of dirt crossroads between adjacent farmlands owned by B. Grimes Cowper and Mrs. B.P. Williamson. In 1912 electricity provided by Carolina Power and Light Company powered a trolley line from Peace Street northward up the center of Glenwood Avenue to the newly created Bloomsbury Amusement Park, behind what is now the Carolina Country Club. Brilliantly lit on weekend evenings, Bloomsbury Park housed a roller coaster, a boathouse overlooking the lake, and a carousel. Within several years the picnic and amusement facility dissolved and later the carousel was moved to Pullen Park.

As is usually the case, development followed the transportation system, bringing scattered homes and a store or two to the Hayes Barton area between 1912 and WW I. With much foresight, The Allen Brothers realty firm struck an agreement with the two farmland owners to develop their combined 175-acre property. The former’s land was situated on the west side of Glenwood while the latter’s holdings were located to the east of Glenwood. Landscape architect Earle Sumner Draper was commissioned to create a design based upon principles seen earlier in Charlotte’s Myers Park. All lots have 40 feet of frontage and the natural contours of the land were preserved. Hayes-Barton appealed to the well-to-do with its promise of private large wooded lots and close proximity to downtown Raleigh. The Fairview Company, which sold the lots, saw a slow start in the post World War I economy. By the end of 1921, however, nearly two-thirds of the lots were purchased.

Hayes-Barton continues to grow, still offering the convenience of downtown Raleigh and the beauty of Draper’s well-preserved plan.  The area remains known as one of Raleigh’s most historical, cultural and influential addresses.

Jul
02

Wild Ocean 3D Opens Friday

wildocean Wild Ocean 3D is opening this Friday at the IMAX Theatre . It’s an action-packed documentary exploring the interplay between man and our endangered ocean ecosystem. The film highlights one of nature’s greatest migration spectacles, plunging viewers into an underwater feeding frenzy, an epic struggle for survival where whales, sharks, dolphins, seals, gannets and billions of fish collide with the most voracious sea predator, mankind. Filmed off the Wild Coast of South Africa and set to the rhythm of the local people, Wild Ocean reveals the economic and cultural impact of the ocean while celebrating the communal efforts to protect our invaluable marine resources.

While Wild Ocean explores the causes and effects of man’s impact, it is an inspirational film looking toward a bright future, taking audiences to a rare unspoiled marine wilderness to glimpse what the oceans of the world once looked like. The film champions the creation of marine reserves necessary to bring our oceans back to life. South Africa currently leads the way in this effort.

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Jul
01

Vote for Bodie’s Renovation

bodie JELD-WEN windows and doors recently announced its “Reliable Lighthouse Restoration Initiative”. Public voting is now open for selecting a winning lighthouse to receive new windows and doors from JELD-WEN. Bodie Island Lighthouse is among the 12 finalists, and your vote can help the tower win 8 windows and one door that are reproductions of the originals.

As you may recall, Bodie Island Lighthouse was pulled from the budget just minutes before the US Senate voted in December 2007. Funding for its restoration will be requested again, but it has been passed over for several years, and there is no guarantee of its future funding. Help restore the windows and door by voting today .

Jul
01

Empire Gets Extension

The Raleigh City Council voted unanimously to grant a 4-month extension to Empire Properties for their proposal to develop a piece of city land known as Site 4 . The City Manager’s suggestion was to reopen the bidding process to interested developers, as Empire has missed deadlines for submitting site plans and cannot prove any serious financial support for the project. The City Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Empire Properties to develop the property 24 months ago.

One of the issues at hand is the agreement for the widening of Salisbury Street in front of the property. The widening is needed according to preliminary site plans, and Empire agreed to split the costs of construction, about $100,000 total, with the city. Contract work is done and the city is almost ready to begin the work, but has received no funds for the project from Empire.

The city voted to grant an extension until November 1 on three conditions:

  • The funds for widening Salisbury St. be presented
  • A site plan be submitted for approval
  • No more extensions

While the first two items are clear success criteria, the issue of “no more extensions” is vague. If Empire presents with only an updated site plan and $50,000 funding for the street widening, but no proof of funding, is the project still theirs? If so, then when should they prove funding, and would this be, in fact, an “extension”?

Clearly Empire received preferential treatment in the extension of this agreement based on the merits of their previous work. Their attention to detail in renovating some of downtown’s oldest buildings is obviously appreciated. Hopefully they can excel in creating tomorrow’s historical building at Site 4 as well.

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Jul
01

City Votes for Plaza Land Condemnation

The Raleigh City Council voted 6-1 today (Mayor Meeker abstaining, Councilor Isley dissenting) to grant City Manager Russell Allen condemnation rights for the remaining piece of private land needed to proceed with the public City Plaza . The $24M project, which includes improvements for the extension of Fayetteville Street to Lenoir St., has been on hold due to easement negotiations with The Simpson Company, owners of the Bank of America building. The City Manager will continue negotiations with Simpson in the coming weeks, but can now push forward to sue for condemnation proceedings.

The project’s preliminary schedule calls for completion on September 2, 2009. More specifically:

  • 8/1/08: Complete permitting
  • 9/9/08: Begin Construction
  • 8/7/09: Open Street to Traffic
  • 9/2/09: Project Complete

The plan for the project has been scaled down in the last year to manage costs. Originally there were to be 4 water features, however the current plan calls for only one. It will be an active, interactive water fountain in front of the Bank of America Building that will supposedly sense pedestrians’ movements and react in certain ways. There will also be four separate pavilions in the plaza which will handle small retail outlets, art displays, etc.

Fayetteville Street will run straight through the project with no elevated curb. Instead, bollards will demarcate pedestrian and vehicular zones during normal programming. However when the street is closed for special events the plaza will appear as one big space. Paver patterns for the plaza have been changed to reduce costs as well.

The plaza’s marquis feature is the set of four City of Oaks Light Towers. Designed by local artist Jim Gallucci , the towers appear to be planned for 40-50 feet in height. The actual details of the designs were not presented, though it was mentioned that their fabrication will take 9 months.

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Jul
01

Crabtree Valley Avenue Extension Fading

CV_ave_ext The proposal for a bypass road on the west side a Crabtree Valley Mall has been debated for 40 years. The middle third of the project, Crabtree Valley Avenue, is complete, but its planned extensions appear to be doomed.

The current recommendation is to finally remove the road from the city’s comprehensive plan. After all this time, the City has not found justification for its existence. Today the City Council recommended pushing the topic back to committee to consider its need with the ensuing developments behind Crabtree. According to Michell Silver’s presentation today, though, it is likely that this road will not be included in the new comprehensive plan for the city.

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