Aloft Set to Elevate Hillsborough Street

aloft_rendering About 10 years ago the City of Raleigh began the process of restoring Hillsborough Street near NCSU. The street, once a revered college strip of business, restaurants and bars, had fallen into economic malaise as Centennial Campus and the residences of students migrated south of campus. About $13 million later, the street finds itself cleaned up, however the economic climate has been slow to follow.

That all changed with the announcement of an Aloft Hotel, set to replace Sadlacks and the strip that includes SchoolKids’ Records, two thriving, organic businesses that survived a tumultuous streetscape project. The two have found new homes (Berkeley Cafe and Mission Valley, respectively). Hopefully the West Raleigh community is set to embrace a much-needed hotel that, frankly, will be an exciting upgrade to Hillsborough Street both functionally and architecturally.

The preliminary plans show the hotel containing 135 rooms in a single 7-story building. There will be about 6,500 square feet (2 parcels) of street-level retail space that are better-suited to the pedestrian experience than the current buildings. Most likely the second level will contain Aloft’s branded WXYZ hotel bar with a balcony. Behind and under the hotel there will be 99 parking spaces and a tiny pool.

The exterior of the building will be a superb addition to the street. The Hillsborough St. side will appear like two separate buildings, likely to stay consistent with the pattern of buildings on the street that are “1-store” wide. According to the Site Plan (pdf) (which gives more detail than the rendering posted by TBC), the left half will be brick and feature columns of windows sets of varying widths. The center stepback section will highlight the building’s entrance with a building-tall sculpture. The right side, though, will be covered with insulated light gray metal panels and feature color cathode lighting at some of the window trims. The design will be the most sleekly modern commercial building in Raleigh, which is appropriate given the hotel’s proximity to the NCSU School of Design.

Raleigh has a Hillsborough Street problem and it has a Starwood Hotels problem. Since the Phase One renovation of Hillsborough Street completed, the street has had trouble gaining the economic footing for which planners hoped. The Aloft project joins the apartment project down at Morgan as well as the coming IHOP project as the first wave of a coming massive overhaul of the street, and it can’t come soon enough.

Starwood Hotels, one of the world’s largest, has an inexplicably paltry presence in one of the fastest growing areas in the country. There is an Aloft and Sheraton Chapel Hill and a couple of Four Points and the Sheraton Imperial in RTP. However the only other Starwood property in Raleigh is the Sheraton downtown (former Radisson); BIG problem. Though we continue to wait for a Westin property, we will certainly celebrate the arrival of the Aloft, only the second new hotel inside the beltline in 30 years. We need it, and we need it fast.

map it


Make A Comment
  • Steelcity36 Said:

    Aloft Hillsborough St, Marriott Convention Center, Hampton Inn Glenwood and Holiday Inn Express Gorman St are all new inside the beltline hotels. What we need is Greg Hatem’s Boutique Hotel vision to come to fruition.

  • Ernest Said:

    I totally agree. I wish Lafayette had moved forward – in its original form, not the scaled down version. Site 4 was ideal for what Greg was proposing. Unfortunately, Empire Properties doesn’t have the deep pockets needed for such project, nor is the lending industry flexible enough to offer loans with decent terms. The L Building is having a hell of a hard time taking off – maybe this time it is getting somewhere – so it’s hard to say if Lafayette will ever return.

    Rest assured that more hotels are under way, but I want to see a high-rise hotel, or a hotel in a mixed-use tower that will eclipse the Marriott Hotel on Fayetteville Street. We definitely need more hotel rooms in order to attract larger conventions.

  • dmccall Said:

    I, too, agree, Steelcity. Thanks for hte heads up about the Hampton Inn – forgot that one, and the Holiday Inn Express, well, I guess that’s technically ITB. Ernest, I heard that they are planning the L to be apartments with a tiny office space on the half-second floor…groundbreaking “very soon”.

  • Ernest Said:

    Dana, I heard about the L Building finally “arriving” from a good source, too. Of course, there is always the “last minute thing” that could change everything. I am concerned about the building’s lack of height, and by that I mean that the structure should at least exceed the parking deck’s height by one floor. Anyway, for me this was a missed opportunity from the beginning and it is over now. I just hope that they finish with the L Building sometime this century :LOL:

  • dmccall Said:

    Meanwhile that lot sits between the round Holiday Inn and The Dawson….

Comments RSS Feed   TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

top -->