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Shimmer Wall Wakes

Tonight was the official lighting of the convention center shimmer wall…and it goes sumpum like this…



Shimmer Wall Official Illumination Thursday

With Tropical Storm Hanna on the way, city officials have decided to throw the switch on the new convention center shimmer wall on tomorrow night (Thursday) at 8:45pm. The ceremony will happen across McDowell Street from the featured wall

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City Council Approves Edison Project


The Raleigh City Council today approved plans for The Edison by a vote of 6-2 (Crowder and Koopman opposed). Crowder is concerned that the city is rushing to approval without considering issues such as the projects’ shadows on neighboring buildings, worsened wind tunnel effect, exceptions to setback guidelines, and lack of Tier One housing. Koopman expressed his inability to understand the project’s context and its impact on the neighboring blocks, including Moore Square. Other concerns raised regarded traffic impacts in the immediate area as well as fire response issues the complex introduces. Councilman Isley vehemently expressed his approval for the project and feels that it is time that we reap the benefits of hundreds of millions of dollars of public investment into downtown.

The Edison is the latest project proposed in downtown by local developer Gregg Sandreuter, and will be located on the block bounded by Wilmington, Martin, Blount, and Davie Streets. The proposed 1,570,900 square foot project includes two 38-story (574′) and two 29-story (369′) towers rising out of a shared, 9-story base. The project will contain office space, a possible hotel, hundreds of dwelling units, and 1,706 parking spaces.

The Edison’s design is anything but finalized, though. Setback issues, space allocation, building heights, and other factors will be ironed out over many months. The project is expected to take around a decade to fully mature (including all 4 towers), and pre-leasing is expected to begin in 2010.

images courtesy Gregg Sandreuter


Council Grants Extension to "The Hillsborough"

Today the Raleigh City Council agreed to write an extended contract for the 301 Hillsborough contract. The new contract will require financing by December 1, construction starts within 60 days.

David Reynolds spoke at the meeting and explained a current proposed arrangement he has with Regent Bank for a portion of the project. Regent wants to minimize exposure by requiring that any unsold residential units on the day of occupancy (and apparently the hotel portion) must be taken out by another financier. The Reynolds’ main obstacle has been that the hotel financiers do not want any residential component in their take-outs. So, the project is awaiting independent financial backing for the residential component; financing they feel will fall into place in the next 60 days.


City Manager Recommends Terminating "The Hillsborough"

hillsborough_old As Ted and David Reynolds’ Quorum project was in full swing, the focus of the public shifted toward their more promising project at 301 Hillsborough Street. The project took many iterations, and many different financing strategies.

On May 20 the City Council approved an extension of the Reynolds’ contract demanding proof of full financing by August 1. “To date, the City has not received such letter or an executed contract. Therefore, 301 Hillsborough Street Partners, LLC is considered to be in default on the existing contract.” Therefore, City Manager Russell Allen recommends immediate termination of the contract.

The City Council agenda also states: “In a recent meeting with Ted Reynolds, David Reynolds and Tom Worth, they advised that they have been assured their lender will commit financing for the project once ‘take down’ provisions have been secured for all three portions of the project upon construction completion; however, an additional investor is still required for the hotel portion of the project. All investors are expected to be in place and ready to move forward with the project in December 2008. A letter noting their intent is in the agenda packet.”

The City Council will discuss the contract in tomorrow’s 1pm meeting.


Raleigh Wide Open III Begins Friday


The Raleigh Wide Open III celebration begins Friday, and contains a schedule of incredibly diverse events for almost every type of person in Raleigh. Not only will with the outdoor festivities begin at Noon on Friday, the new convention center’s first event, the International Festival and Raleigh World Wide Expo will begin then, too.

Schedule subject to change

Friday, Sept. 5, 2008

  • Noon Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony
  • 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Naturalization Ceremony (Cabarrus St. Lobby of Convention Center)
  • 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Raleigh Wide Open III (Fayetteville St. and downtown)
  • 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Music and Entertainment — Three stages, more than 30 local and national acts.
  • Noon – 10:00 p.m. International Festival and Raleigh World Wide Expo (Convention Center)
  • 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. Kids’ Zone and Carnival (Wilmington St. and Lenoir St.)
  • 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. Arrested Development on WRAL/MIX Fireworks Stage, Alternative music on Cherry Bounce Stage
  • 8:30 – 10:00 p.m. Chuck Berry on WRAL/MIX Fireworks Stage, Annuals on Cherry Bounce Stage
  • 8:30 – 10:00 p.m. Movie in Moore Square: Shrek the Third
  • 10:00 p.m. Fireworks

Saturday, Sept. 6, 2008

  • 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Raleigh Wide Open III (Fayetteville St. and downtown)
  • 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Music and Entertainment — Three stages, more than 30 local and national acts
  • 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. International Festival and Raleigh World Wide Expo (Convention Center)
  • 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Kids’ Zone and Carnival
  • 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Parade (Starts on Hillsborough St. near the Capitol and travels down Fayetteville St. to the new Convention Center.)
  • 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. Soul Asylum on WRAL/MIX Fireworks Stage, Alternative music on Cherry Bounce Stage
  • 8:30 – 10:00 p.m. Lou Gramm on WRAL/MIX Fireworks Stage, Islands on Cherry Bounce Stage
  • 8:30 – 10:00 p.m. Movie in Moore Square: Transformers
  • 10:00 p.m. Fireworks

Cherry Bounce Stage

As the schedule states, there are two performance stages, the Fireworks stage (sponsored by WRAL), and the Alternative Music stage (Cherry Bounce). The exact schedule for Cherry Bounce is not set, however some bands have been set. On Friday, Raleigh’s Annuals will headline. Bleeding Hearts, Dawn Chorus, Solos Unit, and others will precede them. On Saturday, Montreal’s Islands will headline and Freebase 808, Red Collar, The T’s, Urban Sophisticate, and others will precede.


Twardy Returns…

…if only for a day.

The News & Observer ran a terrific architectural review of the new convention center by former Urban Image columnist Chuck Twardy. Chuck is now doing freelance writing, and also recently published a nice, short article in metropolis magazine .

I enjoyed reading Twardy’s Sunday column, and his absence stands as one of the many examples of why the N&O is now a shell of what it used to be.


Shimmer Wall Illuminated

shimmerwall_rend Perhaps it was just for last night’s Marriott grand opening, but the new convention center’s shimmer wall was illuminated. I wasn’t able to get a picture (the rendering is shown here), but what we saw was backlighting with blue and green coloring that looked fabulous. The best view of this is from the former Button South location.

The wall is supposed to be officially illuminated during the Raleigh Wide Open 3 celebration. Hopefully the “full show”, including the red and yellow tones (depicted in the rendering), will begin during that weekend.

In other lighting news, the Marriott’s parking garage was offering a one-night-only free parking night last night. The deck is illuminated with the same LED lighting system that the City of Raleigh adopted for a level of their parking garage adjacent to the Upchurch building.


RDU Terminal 2 Gets Opening Date

The RDU Aiport Authority announced today that its new Terminal 2 will open on October 26. The 550,000 square foot, half a billion dollar terminal will replace Terminal C and offer a net gain of four gates to passengers in a swoopy setting.


RBC Crown Lighting Tonight

Tonight at 9pm will be the official lighting of the crown for the new RBC Bank Plaza building in downtown Raleigh. An official ceremony will take place at Martin and Fayetteville Streets.


Historic Houses Near Their Move

merrimon The Blount Street Commons vision will take huge step forward Saturday morning as two historic homes will be moved to a new address (.jpg).  The Hume house will begin its move at 8:30am while the Merrimon-Wynne house will move at 10:00am. The move will be featured on National Geographic’s Monster Moves show, so they will be on site filming. Rain date is Sunday.


Holly Park Renderings Available

HollyParkRend1 The much-needed renovation of Holly Park shopping center won’t be complete for about a year, but new renderings of how it will look are posted on-site. The artist portrays a colorful, boxy, EIFS facade that updates the 34 year-old shopping center’s look. The key anchor for the center will be a Trader Joe’s, which will sit alone in a new building where the Wake Paint and Decorating store currently is. The former CCB and Taco Bell site has been replaced with pavement, but just behind it, in the former main driveway of the center, a new 10,000 square foot retail building is going up.

HollyParkRend2 The renderings are an update to previous renderings (.PDF). The only apparent changes center around the signage for the stores. The current Jersey Mike’s site is labeled “Coffee”, while the right end of the new, 10K building shows “Subs”. Adjacent to this space is patio seating, so could it be that Jersey Mike’s is moving across the parking lot to the new space?

The center’s secondary anchor, The Melting Pot will stay put, and is undergoing  an expansion.

Holly Park is being redeveloped by Charlotte’s Lat Purser & Associates . The architect is Finley Design.

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Marriott Embraces Its Target

Marriott I had a chance to walk through the new Marriott today and was not surprised. The new hotel, with its gorgeous lobby, does an excellent job of meeting Stormont-Noble’s lofty standards. Raleigh can now be proud that it finally has a downtown hotel that meets national standards.

Previously the focus of critics has been the hotel’s exterior. In person, the building’s exterior is a failure on levels worse than expected. The materials, colors, and window details are vapid. It’s exterior’s role in downtown life is a embarrassment to the Livable Streets concepts prescribed in the city’s original requests. Both the dysfunctional Salisbury Street facade and its service-only Lenoir facade punish interested pedestrians. As predicted, the only ways to enter the building from sidewalks are clustered near the intersection of Fayetteville and Cabarrus Streets, creating a horrible pedestrian experience.

Inside, however, the hotel is outstanding. Dressed with white marble floors and contemporary orange, brown, and tan walls and furniture, the hotel is a welcome, first-rate newcomer to downtown Raleigh. The porte c Marriott3 ochere, understated registration desk, and Starbuck’s Coffee store offer a warm, doorstep for voluminous convention traffic in the future. The hotel’s lobby flows spaciously by a slightly underwhelming gift shop and formal sitting areas adorned with multiple high definition televisions into the hotel’s restaurant, Posta Tuscan Grille (preview to follow). Posta Tuscan also has a dedicated Fayetteville Street entrance, so guests having nothing to do with the convention center will have no trouble finding the restaurant.

The west half of the hotel’s ground floor is where one finds the ballrooms and meeting spaces. Unfortunately the corridor that surrounds the central ballroom is lined with a wall of Salisbury street-facing windows. There is no west facade entrance, so those in the hotel can only look out the window at pedestrians who are likely trying to find their way into the hotel. It’s a tragic flaw that could have been easily remedied by placing a small entrance at the building’s NW corner.

The hotel sits atop a multi-level parking garage. The access to the hotel coincides with the hotel’s escalators that access the underground Convention Center connector. This nice piece of design will be a major convenience for conventioneers using the underground garage. The only problem with the hotel’s downward access to the tunnel is that the walls are bare. Perhaps the final phases of decorating are yet to come, as the hotel has still not reached its official opening date.

Marriott2 The City of Raleigh requested, and subsized a facility that would match the impressive function and form of its new convention center. While the delivered product contributes almost nothing to its neighborhood or the city’s skyline, it will undoubtedly impress its target audience, conventioneers staying on-site. That’s a level of success we can all celebrate.

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