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.
It appears that Jimmy Stubbs from the Pittsboro Allen & Son Barbecue will be opening a store called “Five Points BBQ” in Raleigh. You can follow them on Twitter @5PointsBBQ.
At this point I still don’t know if the restaurant will be in the old Audio Buys building or if it will go into the old Johnson’s Pharmacy spot (at Oberlin and Fairview). Word has been that the people who overhauled the old Audio Buys were hoping the space would be retail, but would upfit the space for a restaurant if that is the only potential suitor they could find.
The Brewerrrryyyyyy’s run as the best live music venue in the NCSU area will come to an end on Friday with Embracing Goodbye. The building has been bought, and it, Time Out, Katmandu, and the Farmhouse will all be torn town and replaced with part of the planned Valentine Commons, a mixed-use development. The latest information on the city’ website deals with the zoning change, and it is case Z-012-11 (.pdf). Not many details are included in the document or are anywhere else, but it appears that a building of 3-5 stories in height will go in with street-level retail (rumored to be a Kerr Drugs) with office units above.
There are many, many good memories of The Brewerrrryyyyyy (said in a monster truck-type voice). My first visit to the space was to see the Sex Police, a fantastic live band. They played The Lorax from a film projector on a movie screen behind them, which made the whole performance kind of artsy. Next was Detroit’s “Rhythm Corps” (in the Fall of ‘88 ) whose sound was eerily echoed later by a Seattle band named Pearl Jam. Earlier that week, if I recall, a woman named Melissa Etheridge apparently blew the roof off the joint. (back then she played rock music and was extremely energetic). The venue also played host to Jane’s Addiction, Black Flag, and many other big acts, however my occasional drop-ins were just to see great regional acts like Johnny Quest, Hootie and the Blowfish (gawd – did they play The Brewery every other Friday or what? It’s a tossup between them and Jennyanykind), Pipe, Mr. Potatohead, Follow For Now, Southern Culture on the Skids, Dillon Fence, and a few others.
What I loved about The Brewerrryyyy was the layout. The room was square with the band playing on a triangular stage in the corner, so sitelines were great, even after they bumped out the back. It was always scary-packed in there, too, and getting a beer from the likes of Nikki Coury was always kind of a mosh act (her father, an OBGYN, delivered me). Glenn Mitchener and Randy Richardson worked the door, so it was always fun to catch up with those guys when I went in.
Since those days, however, the billing has been decidedly metal, the barking dog variety, and I haven’t been back. I’ll miss my days there, but to be honest, they were gone long before the news hit Twitter on Saturday.
Times at The Brewweerrryyyyy were actually not my fondest in that block, however. The little place to the left of the The Breweerrryyyyy was once Mr. Ribs, a fabulous rib joint in the ‘70s. While those same ribs are now served at Crowley’s, Mr. Ribs was special. It was a dark restaurant with captain’s chairs and 4-tops throughout. However it wasn’t dark enough for me to recognize State’s tallest student, Junior Tommy Burleson. I was so excited to see one of my heroes that I squealed to my family that “Montie Towe” was sitting two tables away, which Burleson easily heard and responded with a laugh. (I say the opposite of what I mean sometimes when I get tired or overly excited).
The Cantina was also one of the most fun bars in the State ‘hood. The real deal there was a bucket of Rolling Rocks, which was pretty cheap (but not like the $3 pitchers at Trolls in Chapel Hill). They also were one of the first places in Raleigh to serve soft flour tacos, which weren’t bad.
While those memories live on, I have to say that this development can be a real seed to improvement through a section of Hillsborough street that needs some redevelopment. Hopefully it will be the first step toward a small, walkable urban village where students can afford to rent an apartment as well as a place to continue finding good “wholesome” entertainment.
The site plan (.PDF) was recently submitted for a mixed-use, mid-rise building at the corner of Boylan Avenue and Tucker Streets, across from 712 Tucker in downtown Raleigh. The building will be less than 80’ high (so, likely 7 or 8 stories), and includes a parking garage, internal pool/courtyard area, and residential space at ground level.
It appears this will be a 250-unit apartment building.
On Friday, on the cusp of Raleigh’s biggest tourism weekend in history, the Krispy Kreme location at City Plaza closed. The site, which only sold room temperature, unfresh doughnuts, was reported to stay open thru the All-Star weekend. However when the biggest fans of flat round things were swarming, KK folded, passing up one last opportunity to make money in a city-subsidized facility. The Peace/Person location will remain open.
Like we couldn’t see this one coming from a mile away. The appeal of Krispy Kreme lies in their hot, fresh product. The greasy, room temperature product has never been appealing, and was set for failure in City Plaza from the getgo. Had the chain focused on delivering hot, glazed doughnuts instead of variety at that site, there was ample opportunity for success. I still adamantly feel that a small, Hot Doughnuts Now stand in the RBC Center would be a booming success.
So what is next for this site? Success in City Plaza will not come from sales during special events. There aren’t many of these kinds of events and the plaza is not interesting enough to be the hangout the city was hoping it would be. It is the business that can attract a steady stream of customers from lunch thru the afternoon that will make it. For sure, the easiest slam dunk is a good, basic, hamburger or taco stand. This facility is essentially a food truck, so the aim should be to serve quick food that is good. Only Burger or Char-Grill would do well in this site because good burgers sell; period. Another idea is a taco stand featuring good ingredients. Chubbys and Los Cuates could handle the job. Food from Fonda Y Birrieria Jalisco would be even better (just get a better name!). The beauty of a taco stand is that it would attract tons of traffic during non-peak hours. There are many like me who could eat a good taco appetizer at any hour of the day.
Raleigh now sits in a position similar, but on a smaller scale, to Atlanta’s once the Olympics was over. The long-awaited event has passed, and it is time for the City to get back to making Fayetteville Street a “sustainable” destination for residents on every day of the year. There still is important work to be done.
The second half of Terminal 2, the replacement for RDU’s 1987-era Terminal C, opens today. The 920,000 square foot completed project will have 36 gates, 13 shops and restaurants, and a central atrium containing an art piece called “Triplet”. The 4th and 5th baggage claim carousels will also open. The project cost approximately $570 million.
The completed project now designates the new terminal with two concourses, C and D (map), though they are technically on the same hallway. The gates that opened in 2008 are on the C concourse, and the gates opening now are on the D concourse. Airports have now gone to new nomenclature with terminals numbered and their concourses distinctly designated with letters.
Terminal 2 is now the host of Air Canada (D5, D9), American Airlines and American Eagle (C17- C18, C20-C25), Continental and Continental Express (D1, D3, D6), Delta and Delta Connection (C1, C3, C7, C9, C14, C15), Frontier (C25), United and United Express (D5, D9), and US Airways and US Airways Express (D10-D13). The following airlines remain in Terminal 1, the one that should have been replaced: AirTran, JetBlue, and Southwest Airlines.
In May 2010, the RDU Airport Authority voted to spend an extra $500,000 in order to accelerate construction so the project could be completed before next week’s NHL All-Star game. Let’s hope that all of the media, tourist, and athletes all arrive in Terminal 2.
The terminal is gorgeous. It is the “first major airport to be constructed with wooden struts”, but those really only encompass the fascinating roof. Much stone is used to compliment the wooden tones in the ceiling, and the attention to detail is impressive. While the overall idea was conveyed with Phase I of the building, the true scale of the roof and use of light could not be appreciated until now. Whether it is with carefully placed artwork, mosaic patterns in the terrazzo flooring, or bag hooks at the bathroom sinks, an impressive number of details were considered in constructing the building.
There was one unfortunate oversight, however: the choice of glass for the ticketing area’s South Wall. Apparently the glass did not filter enough light, so an enourmous curtain was created to tone the intensity of the sunlight that hits this wall most of the day. While the giant white curtain is dramatic, it will likely be dirty and unsightly in a few years.
Terminal 2 will truly be an impressive gateway for visitors and prospective business clients who enter this terminal. For those who do not arrive via the terminal, the building will certainly find its place among citizens’ driving tours for out-of-towners (unlike another award-winning facility that recently opened). Hopefully the airport authority can make necessary changes to Terminal 1 in order to bring it up to Terminal 2’s high standards.
If you are interested in visiting the terminal, be sure to park in the “Hourly 2” parking area. The entrance bays are to the far left in the deck’s entrance plaza. Parking is $1/hr. You will not be able to access the concourses without a plane ticket, but the atrium and baggage claim areas can still be appreciated by casual visitors.
After about a year and a half of latency, it looks like the Hampton Inn project in Glenwood South is moving forward. A Site Plan (.pdf) for the project, slated for the NW corner of Glenwood and Johnson, has been posted to the city’s site. The shoebox-shaped project will actually face Hi-5 on Johnson Street, and feature 950’ of unrelated retail space on its Glenwood Avenue street-level facade. The City of Raleigh requires 145 parking spaces for the building, but the plan is currently unclear about how those will be offered.
The project once showed 157 rooms planned, but now appears to be 126 units. The hotel will not have any special terracing or setback from the Glenwood Avenue sidewalk, but will only rise 5 stories on that face of the building.
Ever since Harris Teeter’s disastrous move across the Mississippi (Six Forks) to North Hills East, there has been a lot of talk about what would fill the old North Hills Plaza grocery store space. Many have lobbied for a specialty foods vendor or a bookstore. However word from a viable source is that Total Wine will move from its space tucked away in North Hills to the large, empty space in The Lassiter. While it is a huge step up from the little wine shop that once sat on the back side of the plaza, the news comes as a disappointment to people hoping the space would add a new opportunity for shoppers.
The Raleigh City Council’s Passenger Rail Task Force will present their report and recommendations at today’s City Council meeting. The group analyzed three proposed plans for High(er) Speed Rail and how it will impact residents and businesses along corridors. The three plans are online, and viewing them before today’s 1:00 meeting (televised on RTN) will ease the viewer’s understanding of the subject matter.
The three maps for downtown are the most interesting (map 1, map 2, map 3 – all pdf). The show alternative routes and possibilities for new crossing arrangements. One proposal puts the railway between Capital Blvd and Whitaker Mill Road. The other two put the railway on the Mordecai side of Capital Blvd.
The Task Force presentation falls on page 19 of the City Council’s 24-page agenda. So, while the agenda is not followed at a constant pace, and is sometime ignored, we can at least get a sense of when the presentation will be.
Today the State Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission denied Raleigh’s request for an exception to a law prohibiting alcohol-based naming rights. The new amphitheater, which ought to be named after Sir Walter Raleigh, will have to be named after something other than an alcohol product, notably Bud Light.
Apparently carrying the Bud Light name would result in scores of alcoholics in the area, so the City of Raleigh will have to make a contract with someone else, perhaps a company that serves palm-oil based fried food, radiation spewing personal electronic devices, or personal transportation devices people use in running up highway death tallies. Just so long as we don’t become like those people who live near the formerly named Molsen Center in Montreal. Now that is a bunch of worthless alcoholics if I’ve ever seen any.
My mother has an old friend who is known best for her ability to leave. Whenever she and her husband are coming, we are all excited because they are a very entertaining, energetic couple. However as the weekend moves on, the stories about how wonderful they are get old as do the passive aggressive actions by her to coerce the husband into the bedroom. By the end of the weekend we are all ecstatic so see them leave. For sure, we are glad to see them, but are especially glad to see them leave because they do it so well. They clean the bathroom, run the vacuum cleaner, and put the sheets in the washing machine before packing! They offer an experience afterward that is like no other, and are a perfect metaphor for the long-awaited Raleigh downtown amphitheater which opens today.
The project stands on land formerly occupied by Sir Walter Chevrolet, one block to the west of the Raleigh Convention Center. That center was designed for future expansion into the lot. In the meantime Raleigh officials have erected a 5,500-seat, “temporary” amphitheater site which will host around 20 events per summer.
It is important to keep the long-range plan in mind when visiting the site, because it is bare bones to say the least. There are no velvet cloaks at the entrances. If you are expecting something nice like Koka Booth Amphitheatre or Time Warner Pavilion, you will be sorely disappointed. The stage is boxed in only by a very basic lighting rig that complies to industry shed tour standards. The bathrooms are in trailers, which is a step up from porta-johns in Moore Square. The concessions are all from temporary trailers and folding tables. There is no in-house video, and spot lighting is from extremely temporary scaffolding that looks like it could blow over in a 20 mph wind.
While all of those items are expected and excusable, there are some choices designers made that will severely hamper the experience, especially for those who drive long distances and pay first rate prices for shows.
The seating is somewhat similar to Walnut Creek in that it is arranged much like a baseball diamond. Around the outer infield arc there is “box” seating, which consists of stacking chairs separated by pipes, much like the boxes at Walnut Creek. Between the stage and this arc, however, there is nothing but a sea of concrete. Officials told me the plan is to place stacking chairs in this zone to simulate reserved seating. The problem here is that there is absolutely no rise from the front row to the box seats, so everyone in the entire infield will have to stand if Row A decides to stand (and you know they will). Are these the stacking chairs from inside the Convention Center? What happens during times like now when graduations and other events demand the Convention Center chairs? How is security going to control a crowd that has stacking chairs to throw?
Behind the box seats is the only East-West arc aisle, and behind this aisle there is a large section of permanent, reserved seats which slope upward only slightly. At Walnut Creek this East-West aisle is cleverly sunken so people on the lawn are not disturbed. Not here. Patrons in the reserved seating area will have to stand in order to see the stage. That may be par for the course at rock concerts, but it presents real problems for stage productions like Rent and Chelsea Lately.
The remaining land behind the reserved seating is general admission lawn “seating”. While this area does actually have a steep rise, the view of the stage from at least 1/3 of the space, at least right now, is obstructed by tents for the soundboard and for box seating. Most likely these tents will have to go.
The entire seating area is exposed, so be sure to bring a poncho if there is any chance of rain. There is no shelter to speak of, which may present problems for some productions. The real catalyst for the project was the receipt of a framework for a tent to cover much of the seating area. We received this for free from Denver, but had to buy a new fabric skin, which apparently was cost prohibitive given the extreme bare-bones nature of this facility.
While sight-lines and shelter are concerns for this facility, the sound looms as the biggest. Raleigh’s newest landmark, the Shimmer Wall, borders Left Field, and will probably be known as the Silver Monster to musicians. The angle of the stage is such that the entire stage left bank of PAs will be aimed directly at the shimmer wall, and likely create an acoustical mess. Rap Bap….Rap Bap is what two snare drum hits will sound like for anyone along the 3rd baseline. It will be interesting to hear music from the right baseline as the music from the stage left bank will be hitting those fans almost a full second after the stage right bank hits.
For some reason the design of the amphitheater is within the confines of the arcing access road to the Convention Center’s service tunnel. A better design would have been to relocate this road directly adjacent to and parallel to W. Cabarrus St. This would have allowed the stage to be tucked back closer to the Cabarrus/Dawson intersection, thus allowing the stage to be turned more to the south. Perhaps a better grading plan would have allowed the stage to be lower than Dawson, and the outfield to be higher than McDowell streets. This would have provided much better sightlines.
The real advantages the amphitheater has (over most in the country, in fact) come from its location. Ingress and egress will be outstanding, and a very welcome feature to those who have sat in office building parking lots in Cary for well over an hour without moving. Downtown Raleigh has well over 10,000 parking spaces, and most of them are empty during the times of use for this facility.
For people who want to kick around after the show, downtown Raleigh offers the finest nightlife experience in the Triangle. In fact, there are over 70 places to drink in downtown Raleigh, and most are a short walk from the amphitheater.
The amphitheater will end up being a great move for the City Manager’s books, especially if weather and crowd control are not problems. Built on a shoestring that would even make Tom Fetzer proud, the place is positioned to be a huge cash-cow for the city. The facility is built to be in place only a few years, and if convention center expansion gets pushed back, a renovation plan will have to be in the works. Given the rise of the internet and the stagnation of the world economy, that expansion may be further off than anticipated. In fact, I predict that the expansion of the convention center will not happen until at least 2025, probably 2030.
What will probably happen is that after 3 summers, the city will probably realize that expansion is still just a long-term goal, and must then deal with mounting complaints about The Walt. I expect to see permanent bathrooms, more substantial field lighting rigs, permanent gold circle seating implemented in the short run.
Is this review premature? Perhaps. Yes, I have not heard a band in the facility yet. The problem is that nobody else had either. As of 21 hours before showtime, the time all of these photos were taken, the facility had no PA system, no lighting in place, the bathroom access ramps had not been built, no vendors were in place, no ticketing facility was in place, and no seating existed for the gold circle. A lot will have to happen before the paying public comes in two days. We’ll know a lot more about the facility by the end of the weekend.
Today WRAL is reporting that the City of Raleigh has reached a tentative agreement with Bud Light for naming rights of the new downtown amphitheater. At this point state liquor laws won’t allow it, but of course if there is a check to be written, laws can be changed.
This amphitheater should be dedicated to and named after Sir Walter Raleigh for three reasons:
- It stands on the site that once hosted Sir Walter Chevrolet
- We don’t have ANYTHING around this city named after Walter Raleigh. We have a city name and a statue downtown. No parkways, schools, public facilities.
- The amphitheater could affectionately be known as "THE WALT". We don’t have a decent moniker for our civic center, large amphitheater, or professional arena. This gives us the chance to assign a good, fun, innocent name to the place.
Certainly naming rights can be sold, but to honor the knighted one is the right thing to do for the long run. Remember Hardee’s Walnut Creek Amphitheater and the BTI Center? Naming rights may come and go, but a dedication is long term.
The City of Raleigh Department of City Planning and Code Studio will hold a lecture on form-based coding from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. tonight, in the City Council Chamber (Avery C. Upchurch Government Complex, 222 W. Hargett Street).
In August, the City Council approved a contract with Code Studio to assist the City in the preparation of a Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). The UDO seeks to implement, through code requirements and standards, the type of built environment as set forth in the recently adopted 2030 Comprehensive Plan. The goal of the UDO is to prepare development regulations that address contemporary development and zoning practices that are easily understood by administrators, the public, and the development community and support the goals and policies of the new comprehensive plan.
Lee Einsweiler of Code Studio will present how urban form can be integrated in the UDO and what tools may be used in Raleigh at the neighborhood and citywide level. Topics to be addressed include:
- What is a form-based code;
- What tools are available to achieve good urban form;
- What are some examples of us ing form-based code and tools in other cities; and,
- How might the code and tools be used in Raleigh?
Mr. Einsweiler is a planner with more than 25 years of experience in a variety of settings. As a principal at Code Studio, Mr. Einsweiler’s projects involve planning, zoning and plan implementation. Mr. Einsweiler is experienced in both conventional zoning and new code approaches. He has prepared pure form-based codes and successfully incorporated form-based elements into conventional codes.
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