Oct
22

The Edison Redesigned: Service, Not Brilliance

Yesterday the Raleigh downtowner released some renderings for the new, scaled-down vision for the Davie Street side of The Edison. Previously the plans for Gregg Sandreuter’s development called for four towers of 30-40 stories each, containing office and residential components on a retail base.

It is disappointing to see the project being scaled down, but frankly, with the bath that Sandreuter ended up taking on the oversized West at North Project, it is obvious that banks are putting pressure on Sandreuter to do something with the land. The truth is that the economy is worse than the media is portraying, and a project like the one originally proposed for The Edison is now probably more than 20 years away for Raleigh. In fact it will be at least 12 years before anything changes the Raleigh skyline.

With conditions as they are, we are lucky to see something proposed for this land. As it stands now, the block stands as a blank and a few run-down old buildings in the middle of a downtown that has much organic energy. We are now at the 3-year mark of a development drought in downtown Raleigh, and if we get too arrogant, we will lose all of the roaring momentum that Raleigh had six years ago. In other words we cannot afford to be too choosy now about downtown projects. Given the number of empty lots in downtown, we can afford to put up some bad projects because the momentum is what will eventually bring good projects, not our own stubbornness. Too much of that will make us a has-been. We need energy on the street, and this project does that.

Much hand-wringing has been going on over the last two days regarding the design of the project. I will caution readers, though, that the proposal looks more like a massing portrayal than a specific design, so even with this sized project, it can be something appealing. That said, the images look waaaaay too much like the horribly bland project on Glenwood where Tobacco Road is.

Hopefully the mass of building can be broken up with varied materials, colors, window frames, and window heights. Designers at North Hills East attempted this kind of breakup with windows and color on an EFIS-faced building, but forgot that relief also has to be in the design. Some sections should set back, others protrude. Another facet ignored is massive projects is the window height. North Hills is a godo project, but could have been great if the windows for each section were at differing heights. IT would have added some authenticity badly needed over there.

Nevertheless, I’m glad to see something going forward. I just hope that developers will still have some sense of pride in their developments while they try to please banks. Perhaps the name of the project should be renamed The Gillette, as the focus has clearly gone from being a brilliant idea to being something serviceable that we will one day throw away.

13 Comments

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  • Ernest Said:

    With all due respect, I’d rather see NOTHING for another 5 years than this excuse of a project. If Gregg – for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect – gets a lot of pressure to build something, then here is my suggestion: Build one 12 story building on one of the Blount Str corners and leave the rest of the available space for later use; that way we save a few existing businesses from having to relocate. Second option is to build a couple of 8-10 story buildings – along the Blount Str end.

    I am sorry, but I hope this new incarnation doesn’t happen. The sale of Block B was done with other things in mind, even though the economy went South since then. Hopefully, something will happen to make Gregg reconsider, before he associates his name with yet-another disappointment for those of us who see DT Raleigh as something more than just a collection of random projects.

  • John Said:

    My take on this proposal is not black and white. First of all, count me among those who would always trade towers for street life. In my opinion, it’s the street life that really counts when one is trying to extend the life of an urban core from a 9-5/M-F situation to a 7 day a week, 18 hour a day future. Putting residents downtown is key to this future and I welcome every opportunity to make this happen. Right now, the only way this happens is through rentals. The beauty of rentals is that the property can be re-developed in the future into something else. So, while I am not “excited” by the specific plans for the site, I am elated that it means hundreds of new residents DT…many of which will likely be the young creative class employees that the city wants to attract to its core.

    As we march forward DT, there needs to be symbiotic relationship among the various types of development. These types include housing, retail, entertainment and business. The key now is to find the way to grow them in support of each other. While all 4 types exist in DT now, there definitely are some that are more lacking than others. With the state government, et al, we do have a base of “business” downtown. We also have a rapidly growing entertainment base DT with all the new restaurants, bars and clubs that augment what was already there. We are sorely lacking in both retail and residents. But, to get the retail, you are going to have to get the residents there first before anyone is going to make the retail investment in a more substantial way than the one-off sort of way that retail has sluggishly and organically grown so far. So, to that end, I am glad to see the empty lot become housing for now.

    If Raleigh’s city center doesn’t aggressively pursue housing, it will risk being left out of future retail investment by Glenwood South: which has 3 significant rental projects moving through the system now. These new residences along with the existing ones at West, 222, 510 Glenwood, The Cotton Mill, The Paramount and others will draw retail attention to DT but not to the Fayetteville St./Moore Square Districts.

    In the end, any apartments that are built on that land can be demolished 10 or 20 years from now. That’s the beauty of apartments. They don’t require a vote by the homeowners to change land use direction when the time comes.

  • John Said:

    My take on this proposal is not black and white. First of all, count me among those who would always trade towers for street life. In my opinion, it’s the street life that really counts when one is trying to extend the life of an urban core from a 9-5/M-F situation to a 7 day a week, 18 hour a day future. Putting residents downtown is key to this future and I welcome every opportunity to make this happen. Right now, the only way this happens is through rentals. The beauty of rentals is that the property can be re-developed in the future into something else. So, while I am not “excited” by the specific plans for the site, I am elated that it means hundreds of new residents DT…many of which will likely be the young creative class employees that the city wants to attract to its core.

    As we march forward DT, there needs to be symbiotic relationship among the various types of development. These types include housing, retail, entertainment and business. The key now is to find the way to grow them in support of each other. While all 4 types exist in DT now, there definitely are some that are more lacking than others. With the state government, et al, we do have a base of “business” downtown. We also have a rapidly growing entertainment base DT with all the new restaurants, bars and clubs that augment what was already there. We are sorely lacking in both retail and residents. But, to get the retail, you are going to have to get the residents there first before anyone is going to make the retail investment in a more substantial way than the one-off sort of way that retail has sluggishly and organically grown so far. So, to that end, I am glad to see the empty lot become housing for now.

    If Raleigh’s city center doesn’t aggressively pursue housing, it will risk being left out of future retail investment by Glenwood South: which has 3 significant rental projects moving through the system now. These new residences along with the existing ones at West, 222, 510 Glenwood, The Cotton Mill, The Paramount and others will draw retail attention to DT but not to the Fayetteville St./Moore Square Districts.

    In the end, any apartments that are built on that land can be demolished 10 or 20 years from now. That’s the beauty of apartments. They don’t require a vote by the homeowners to change land use direction when the time comes.

  • Unsatisfied Customer Said:

    I for one am not concerned whether or not they build a signature tower in this spot. Although, I would like to see something a lot more atractive than the renderings I just looked at. Why does everything have look the same? For the love of God are there NO good architects in this boring “looking” town?

  • Dana Said:

    UC, I’m with you on the poor architectural state of Raleigh. When we are bemoaning the loss of a building like the one Balantine’s, was in, and the one across from it, I think we’ve completely lost our way.

    John, Great points on getting warm bodies downtown and about apts being more flexible for redevelopment down the road. What I said in the article goes along with what we talked about 5 years ago; I think that West at North is way too big, and would rather have seen those condo units developed across the many empty lots and trash buildings that flank it for several blocks. Much like that, I’d rather see whatever demand we have for downtown going toward filling empty lots than waiting for signature projects. You mentioned replacement of this is 10 to 20 years…think 50. We have so many empty lots in downtown Raleigh that even if we continued the impressive growth rate of the previous decade, it would take us 40 years to fill in downtown with low rise development. I don’t think that the demand for this land would be appreciable again until at least 2060. So this does need to be a decent building, hopefully more appealing than The Hue.

    Apartments are definitely the right way to go. Empty nesters’ demand for downtown is now satisfied, and people in the “creative class” don’t seem the least bit interested in ownership opportunities or long-term investments (which means banks wouldn’t give them loans anyway).

    I would just love to see the area between The Walt and Dorothea Dix be redeveloped with row houses and low-rise apartments.

  • Ernest Said:

    John,

    If this mess gets built in its latest form, it will not be demolished in 20 years… It will be there for MANY years to come and possibly be converted to condos when the market returns to some sort of normal. However, this is going to be [architecturally] nothing to look at. Just a long structure, overwhelmed by a parking deck. Something along the lines of Palladium Plaza.

    While I am all for street life and retail, I don’t see this happening simply by wasting valuable space. My question is this: Why a 6-story structure along Davie Str and not a 12-story building on one of the Blount Str corners? Sure, it costs more, but this would also force to put in place a stronger, more sustainable structure. These apartments will not rent for $600-$800 per month. They will be expensive units that will cost more than what I pay per month for my 2400sf home in North Raleigh. To promote an urban style of living we need higher density, a much larger core city population and businesses that could survive every time a crisis hits us.

    Last, but not least, our plans for a better public transportation will demand higher densities all over the city, particularly along the main corridors. Would you rather have a 6-story/300-unit building or 3 times that, on the same lot? I understand the argument about street life versus a skyline without ground level activity, but I find it hard to believe that anyone could possibly believe that we can’t have both. The Edison was supposed to be an “experiment” in that direction… Iconic buildings that blend commercial, hospitality and residential activities, along with a good street level experience.The Warehouse District and Glenwood South are also wonderful areas to experiment with a mix of 4-20 story buildings, very easily. The CBD, however, should attract iconic towers that offer a great pedestrian experience.

    Sorry about my rants, everyone… It is only because I believed so much in this project that my level of disappointment is too high to keep inside :(

  • John Said:

    Ernest,
    To be clear, I am not a fan of the design I have seen for these apartments but I also know that they are not in their final form. I am less bothered by the 6 stories than you are. I would hope that a developer would have the vision to bring a better piece of architecture to this minimized project than he/’she has. I’d rather have them take cues from the Progress Energy building than provide us with another “same ole, same ole” building. But, that decision does not lie in my hands. The city is going to have to take a stand and now cower to the developers as if they have to beg for something to happen downtown. The developers wouldn’t even propose this project if they didn’t have a sound financial model. It’s a delicate dance that needs to take place so that the finished product will be an improvement over what’s currently proposed.

    I disagree that the city needs to develop in a tower model to successfully support transit. After all, take a look at Paris. It’s a city of 6-7 story buildings that’s denser than anything we can ever hope to be. Yet Paris feels human and engaging via its network of neighborhoods that stress a sense of place. With all of the available land DT, Raleigh has a real opportunity to make headway in that model while bringing tens of thousands of people to the city center. If and when the city is successful in drawing the young and talented downtown, it will have the drawing card it needs to attract corporate presence too.

    While highrise living is certainly glamourous and a holy grail of sorts, it is not necessarily the path to Raleigh’s succcess. I see towers as two occupancy types: office and hotel. To Dana’s point, I would have rather seen a 17 story hotel where the West Condo stands with mid rise housing and retail on its peripheral. Instead we have a highrise condo that is essentially “extruded” midrise/lowrise architecture. It doesn’t work.

    I am excited by the way that Glenwood South is beginning to address housing. Midrise rentals that house a few hundred residents on an acre or so of land is good in my book. Frankly, there are going to be more apartments in these new projects than there are condos in the RBC building. Speaking of bad architecture!!!! I cringe everytime I see Raleigh’s tallest building with those stupid (non integrated) terraces hanging off the side of it like lifeboats on a cruise ship. In the end, I think that in cities the size of Raleigh, let’s let building types house the appropriate occupancy and drive to the best architecture for each type. Let’s encourage the city with our voices to have the strength to drive to its 2030 vision.

  • Ernest Said:

    John,

    Maybe I didn’t make my point clear, so I apologize for it. No, we don’t need to have towers everywhere, but if we can’t have them downtown then where can we? The whole density discussion can go either way, and since I have been to Paris and other European cities, AND I grew up in a European country, I can assure you that many Europeans would praise our model instead of their own.

    As for public transit, I don’t claim that towers is the only answer, but think about it… Would you rather have ~300 units in one third of the block, or have 500 units, 200 hotel rooms and maybe 500-1000 people working in the same amount of space? Transit is not only for those who live in one area, but also those who work. I want to be able to hop on the light rail and work downtown, but without higher densities AND office destinations this is simply harder to accomplish, unless you want to put in place a “money pit” kind of transit system.

    You hit it on the nail about the pace of the development… Yes, we can put in place smaller scale projects and bring more residents. If this is our goal, then we have plenty of room for 4-8 story buildings. My problem is not with the number of rental units Gregg is proposing… Not at all. My problem is with the sprawling nature of the building he is proposing. Not to mention that the adjacent parking deck will tower above the apartments. The height will not be addressed, and I am willing to bet that a taller structure would have helped a very different, more appealing architecture, but that is my opinion. So, give me a 12-15-story building with the same amount of units and use the rest of the parcel for later. How doesn’t this help us increase density, especially across the central bus station.

    Now, I will agree with you about the Glenwood South growth and the poor architecture of most buildings in Raleigh. Glenwood South will be a great model for redeveloping mixed-use areas and I have high hopes for it. I would not place limits on heights East of Glenwood Ave, though, but I would like to see some attractive row houses, especially along St Mary’s Str. As for architecture, don’t even get me started about RBC Plaza. Its top was clearly an afterthought and very poorly executed :( The views from the balconies are definitely worth it, something that no low-rise can match, but the architecture is where RBC Plaza falls short.

    Another area where Raleigh falls short is urban townhomes, brownstones and row houses… My goodness!!! Why can’t we get some quality development in this category. The Blount Street Commons – Gregg’s project would probably fit better there – is another disaster and whoever approved the plan needs to be jailed… The fronts of the homes face the backs of other homes. When they build the last “row” of houses across from Krispy Kreme this effect will be more evident. If we can’t get low-rise development right, how in the Earth can we expect quality high-rise development? Let’s hope that the 2030 plan can help us prevent such garbage in the future.

  • Ernest Said:

    John,

    Maybe I didn’t make my point clear, so I apologize for it. No, we don’t need to have towers everywhere, but if we can’t have them downtown then where can we? The whole density discussion can go either way, and since I have been to Paris and other European cities, AND I grew up in a European country, I can assure you that many Europeans would praise our model instead of their own.

    As for public transit, I don’t claim that towers is the only answer, but think about it… Would you rather have ~300 units in one third of the block, or have 500 units, 200 hotel rooms and maybe 500-1000 people working in the same amount of space? Transit is not only for those who live in one area, but also those who work. I want to be able to hop on the light rail and work downtown, but without higher densities AND office destinations this is simply harder to accomplish, unless you want to put in place a “money pit” kind of transit system.

    You hit it on the nail about the pace of the development… Yes, we can put in place smaller scale projects and bring more residents. If this is our goal, then we have plenty of room for 4-8 story buildings. My problem is not with the number of rental units Gregg is proposing… Not at all. My problem is with the sprawling nature of the building he is proposing. Not to mention that the adjacent parking deck will tower above the apartments. The height will not be addressed, and I am willing to bet that a taller structure would have helped a very different, more appealing architecture, but that is my opinion. So, give me a 12-15-story building with the same amount of units and use the rest of the parcel for later. How doesn’t this help us increase density, especially across the central bus station.

    Now, I will agree with you about the Glenwood South growth and the poor architecture of most buildings in Raleigh. Glenwood South will be a great model for redeveloping mixed-use areas and I have high hopes for it. I would not place limits on heights East of Glenwood Ave, though, but I would like to see some attractive row houses, especially along St Mary’s Str. As for architecture, don’t even get me started about RBC Plaza. Its top was clearly an afterthought and very poorly executed :( The views from the balconies are definitely worth it, something that no low-rise can match, but the architecture is where RBC Plaza falls short.

    Another area where Raleigh falls short is urban townhomes, brownstones and row houses… My goodness!!! Why can’t we get some quality development in this category. The Blount Street Commons – Gregg’s project would probably fit better there – is another disaster and whoever approved the plan needs to be jailed… The fronts of the homes face the backs of other homes. When they build the last “row” of houses across from Krispy Kreme this effect will be more evident. If we can’t get low-rise development right, how in the Earth can we expect quality high-rise development? Let’s hope that the 2030 plan can help us prevent such garbage in the future.

  • John Said:

    Hi again Ernest,

    I don’t think we are far apart in what we’d like to see DT. Perhaps I just have more tolerance vis-a-vis this particular project.

    I understand your concerns but I am not convinced that some of them are as dire as you assume they will be. For example, I am not perceiving that the proposed apartments are going to be shorter than the adjacent parking deck. I’d imagine that this detail will be ironed out as it moves through the process. Of course I’d rather see better land use on every site in Raleigh (not just downtown) but I am also realistic that I can’t control everything. If in fact this is going to be the plan that the developer is pursuing, I think my energy is better spent trying to influence it to be the best possible midrise project it could be rather than try to kill it. I guess I see it as an exercise of not killing the potential good for the sake of the potential perfect. It’s a decision I make in my mind in the context of the current economy. I think this project does a lot less damage to DT than the horrible RBC Center and the meh…Marriott did.

    My axe to grind downtown is how the government of NC uses land. DT is dotted with crappy state buildings that will not go away anytime soon, especially with the “no money spent is too much money spent” legislature we have in place now. Also, the way the state government works, they don’t have any motivation to change. Do you think that state reps and senators care at all about what
    happens to DT Raleigh? They are elected to represent their constituents. We are just left holding the bag for the entire state. I’d love to see consolidation of various state agencies in a tower DT so that land can be freed up to generate more revenue for the city….Alas, I don’t think I’ll hold my breath on that one.

    In my mind, the two building types we need DT right now are housing and hotel rooms. Housing to drive retail investment and hotels to strengthen the convention center’s viability and profitability. Using your argument, I would agree that this site could house both apartments and hotel rooms in a taller building. That’s a model that I think could work now at that site. It’s also a model that needs to be put in place at the languishing Charter Square site too.

  • Ernest Said:

    John,

    I agree, most of us are very close regarding what we wish to see in our downtown. Street-level experience, safety, attractive streetscapes, 24/7 options, useful retail, good entertainment destinations, tourist attractions, green areas, good connectivity with the rest of the city via reliable public transit – that isn’t yet-another money pit – and many other cultural and non-cultural amenities.

    Before I get to my concerns – it is more interesting to talk about the things we have in common – I want to say that I totally agree with your state government comments. I am a state employee, and I will be until Nov 30, since my position was eliminated, so I can tell you from experience that the way state government has planned its “urban” presence is simply PATHETIC. Look what they approved for Blount Street Commons and you will vomit :( These people know NOTHING about good urban planning and it shows. Unfortunately, the city leaders cannot do much to influence the state’s decisions. One exception is the Green Square project, even though it could have been done better, IMO, simply by consolidating both buildings into one, or placing the office building to the West above the parking deck. Too late now.

    At this point in time, the two trends for new DT Raleigh development point to hospitality and rental units. I have little doubt that these trends will dominate the landscape for the next 5 years, at least, but I have some concerns. This is not an 100% accurate statement, but it seems to be the norm. Low-rise hotels are usually unattractive, in terms of architecture. Low-rises don’t require the type of material used in larger structures and tend to be less efficient. The good thing is, they are easier to replace 20-30 years down the road. The bad news is, they take up valuable space and drive real estate prices up – small supply. As for the rental units, I have a feeling that some of the proposed apartment buildings will be converted to condos in the future. Sure, they may become affordable, but the construction quality will not be comparable to those units that were meant to be condos. Not 100% the case, but the probability is very high.

    Back to the topics where we disagree – respectfully, of course :) A few years ago I did my own little research regarding parcels that could be used for skyscraper development. Please bear with me for a little more… Those who either like or don’t mind low-rise developments in DT Raleigh have lots to be happy about. What happens with us, skyscraper enthusiasts? What are the options? Quite frankly, there are no more than 5-6 spots where skyscrapers could go? God forbid they pass the whole Union Station plan, which would restrict heights in and around Warehouse District in the most stupid way. I would not mind seeing a 30-40 story tower in the Warehouse District, but it won’t happen. The CBD has a very small number of lots that could get something above 40 stories, and I don’t mean something that sticks out like a sore thumb. Sites 2, 3, 4 and 5 cannot host a skyscraper, for various reasons – mostly due to their transitional nature. What’s left? Unless we extend the CBD all the way to West Str, our chances for skyscrapers get smaller and smaller.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, there will be opportunities in the future, but will require loss of existing buildings that I pretty much see tough to get approved, or simply too costly. I don’t want to get into the details of my little “research”, so let me get back to The Edison. I am afraid that your calculation regarding the height of the 6-story building is not right. Even if the apartments reach the same height as the parking deck, it will still be a crappy proposition. Unlike the Park & Market apartments at North Hills East, this will project will not offer any kind of variation in the facade. Just look at how “sad” the nearby Palladium Plaza looks, and it is smaller in length than the Edison apartments will be. This project will not be a big-city kind of apartment cluster, where you may have multiple buildings, different in design and size, built adjacent to each other. This is going to be a monolithic structure, void of personality and strictly to “blind” city leaders and lenders… No, Gregg is not such a bad person, but he is a businessman and has to look after his company and his staff. This is a good business decision for him, but not the best one for our city. I don’t want him to fail, but I do hope that the city sends him back to the drawing board. Again, encourage him to build those rental units into a single mid-rise and keep the rest of the parcel for future development. After all, this is also best for the city, for tax purposes 😉

    Thanks for bearing with me…

  • John Said:

    Ernest,
    First let me say that I am so sorry that you are losing your job. I truly am. But, it’s not surprising given our new “any money spent is too much money spent” sort of thinking in our legislature…but, I digress. I hope you find sometime soon that makes you happy. In the meantime, use your free time to be the thorn in the side that some of just don’t have time to do. At least do some for me….

    I agreee that many of the rental projects may be built with lower quality building types (wood frame instead of steel and concrete). Thankfully, my condo DT is a concrete building. It matters to me! I’d bet my life that anything built out of concrete and steel will eventually be sold off as condos. The Hue, in particular, comes to mind. Time will tell.

    As for towers, I guess it’s just not my top priority. That said, I am not against them. But, I’d rather see Raleigh filled with better city planning and good architecture before welcoming another RBC to the skyline. But, your point is well taken that this site was primed for high rise construction. Being the map geek I am, I’d love to see your mapping of the parcels that could be developed into high rises in DT Raleigh. I can imagine highrise construction (20+) northward but tappering up through the former Devereaux Meadows land where the city is storing its garbage trucks. I can also image it down Hillsborough St to Glenwood Ave. Certainly these areas have been explored by developers already and are probably already on you radar. They are also on proposed transit corridors.

    That said, I don’t imagine Raleigh as primarily a high rise city. What I see in my mind is a collection of urban neighborhoods that expand DT westward toward NC State and Cameron Village as well as northward up Capital toward Wake Forest Rd. and southward down S. Saunders. I do imagine a few more towers over 30 stories but much more product in the 8-15 story range that allows a sense of strong urban (neighborhood) identity that exists in places like Chicago, NY, etc. I really don’t want to emulate Charlotte with coat and tie corporate towers of bankers. I’d rather see think tanks and start ups in the warehouse district, uban (highly) mixed use at Devereaux Meadows, more entertainment options to the east of West Street in Glenwood South along with low/midrise high density housing buffering the city core from its peripheral historic neighborhoods.

    Regarding this parcel and the missing “L building”, we would need viable alternatives. I would totally be supportive of the Edison site being built to accommodate both residential and hotel rooms in a shorter tower that you have described. If I were the develper, I’d stack residential on top of first floor retail and hotel rooms on top of the residential (to avoid those stupid looking balconies ala RBC). I wonder why Greg isn’t considering this as an option? Certainly the case can be made for more hotel rooms within walking distance to the convention center. While we wait for these parcels (and charter square) to be developed, why can’t we think of something to do with these locations now? I’m thinking of temporary structures like what’s put up during Olympic’s games or significant art festivals, etc. Why can’t we erect funky low cost temporary buildings as business incubators for start ups? Oh, that’s right, public investment is something we don’t do anymore. We’re going to cut our way to a healthy economy if it kills us. 😉

    All of this sure sounds like a worthy discussion over cocktails.

  • Ernest Said:

    John,

    Good morning, and thanks for replying… We have started quiet a dialogue here… A good one, in my opinion :) You are right, though, this is a good conversation that we could have over cocktails or coffee.

    Also, I want to thank you for your supportive words, although I am afraid we will disagree over one thing: My job loss wasn’t because of the legislation… We are up against a real threat as a state and we need to deal with it. Excessive fat needs to be trimmed, and that is what I am at this point :( My position could have been saved if projects were managed better in the past, but management decisions affect the little guys. Hell, even my manager is not immune to bad decisions. And because I am [still] working for an agency that deals with budget and grants, I can see the problems that have been created long before the legislative body was forced to ask for tough decisions. After all, taxpayers money should be managed better, IMO.

    Back to the urbanity/skyline discussion… Back in the days when the city leaders made a decision regarding Site 1, I contacted one of the companies that lost the bid. They were very receptive and the president of the company – based in Atlanta – wanted to hear more about the opportunities outside Site 1. So, I created a document (which I never completed) showing available parcels, information about the owners, photos of the existing conditions and general information. I sent her what I had, as a start and she was thrilled. She even called me at work to talk more about DT Raleigh. Shortly afterward I got a new job and I focused on other things, but those were the pre-Hue, pre-RBC Plaza days. Today, there are only a few parcels that a developer could potentially develop into skyscrapers, but that would be a face-to-face discussion, although emails could work well, too (you can contact me at raleighmsa AT gmail.com).

    In the past, I mentioned in some forums my idea of what Raleigh could be, at least in the downtown area. The city I would model Raleigh after is Portland, OR. Yes, there is some grit that I would gladly leave out, but I don’t like to see Disneyland, either. However, I place a lot of importance – not excessive, though – on image. Raleigh’s skyline is simply pathetic and doesn’t do much. For a city its size, Raleigh needs to make a much stronger statement. No need for a major corporate image, but I would like to see a couple of corporations calling DT Raleigh their home. Usually, they bring thousands of employees and many such entities are also good corporate citizens, making donations and buying naming rights… We need that. Red Hat is a good start, and I know that they will bring with them dozens of other technology companies of all sizes. DT Raleigh can be a technology hub if we play our cards right. This is how small and large buildings will come to life, not to mention the economic impact on the small businesses that depend on a larger employee base.

    We can go on and on about this. The idea is to create a downtown area that has a little bit for everyone. While we may never have a skyline like Dallas’, Houston’s, Seattle’s, we can get one like Austin’s :) The latter is more of what I call ideal, but I would also love to have something like Charlotte’s Tryon Str (that is a Hell of a nice big city venue, but it needs more retail) and Greensboro’s Elm Str (a great combination of historic and modern buildings).

    Thanks for reading…

    PS: Don’t underestimate the crappy situation we are in. Public investment is not feasible when our debt rises. Which is why I “insist” that we need a few larger corporations to participate, as they normally do. Sorry, but I don’t believe in spending taxpayers’ money in the name of “investment”. There are private entities (i.e. Greg Hatem’s Empire Properties) that could undertake such projects successfully 😉

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