by William Needham Finley IV™

Development Beat: Iconic Blue Tower Restaurant To Be Demolished for One Glenwood

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Week of February 6, 2017

Blue Tower Restaurant to be demolished for One Glenwood project

Kane Expands Plans For Smokey Hollow

HQ Raleigh begins work on new space in the historic Capital Club Building

A new plan for the Spencer Ridge mixed-use development on Falls of THE Neuse Road (WNFIV made me include “the”)

New Retail Planned for Glenwood Near Crabtree

Demolition Begins On Iconic Blue Tower Restaurant
Once home to the legendary Blue Tower Restaurant, a 24-hour greasy spoon diner, the 67-year old structure at 605 Hillsborough Street will soon be torn down. It will be replaced by the One Glenwood development, a 10-story, 219,500 square foot mixed-use commercial/office building planned for the intersection of Hillsborough Street and Glenwood in downtown Raleigh.

One Glenwood

Developed by Heritage Properties out of Towson, Maryland, the building will include 14,500 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and a 650-space parking deck on a separate site across W. Morgan Street. A brochure from project architect JDavis explains the design as one that intends to “create a building of its place and part of the ever-evolving city by tying the old with the new.”

Does that mean we’ll be seeing a 24-hour greasy spoon diner included as part of that ground-floor retail? Doubtful, although we did reach out to both Heritage Properties and leasing agent Trinity Partners to see if they would be willing to share any potential tenant information.

As for the space’s previous tenants, Bruce Garner, founder of Raleigh’s iconic Char-Grill hamburger chain, opened the Blue Tower sometime in the late 1940s. While county records indicate the structure was built in 1949, the first listing for the diner was in the 1948 Hill’s Raleigh City Directory. Described in a later directory listing as a place that offered “Excellent Food, Quick Service From A Sandwich to A Meal, Open 24 Hours A Day”.

Garner purportedly opened the diner, which offered “a long bar and cheap coffee”, after his neighborhood restaurant raised the cost of a cup of coffee to a whopping ten cents. Garner’s competitor is said to have closed his doors soon after the opening of Blue Tower. Garner went on to open Char-Grill in 1959. Blue Tower has been described as an “infamous diner” that offered “excellent eats at odd hours.” Some have claimed that the place was mobbed up at one point, and that the East Coast Syndicate operated out of the back. We have no evidence of this and didn’t want to risk our lives investigating.

At some point, the space was turned into a chiropractor’s office. County photographs show it has been used as such since at least 1996.

605 Hillsborough Street in 1996

The $11,750 worth of demolition permits for the old building were issued to Whiting-Turner Contracting. One Hillsborough is slated to open sometime in 2018.

Smokey Hollow Expands
As first reported last week by Amanda Hoyle in the Triangle Business Journal, Kane Realty and Williams Realty’s ambitious plans for the 12-story Smokey Hollow development at the intersection of Peace and West Streets downtown have already begun to grow. Recent purchases made on behalf of Kane and Williams have nearly doubled the size of the 4.2 acre lot. In December, they received approvals for 616 apartment units and a 51,300 square foot grocery store, which is strongly rumored to be a Publix.

While no plans have yet been announced for the newly acquired sites, we would expect them to be a mix of office, residential and retail, not dissimilar from Kane’s nearby Dillon project, expected to open next year. Kane told the TBJ he hopes to break ground on Smokey Hollow by this summer.

While the Smokey Hollow development is significant on its own, when combined with the work being done by Lundy Group at the nearby intersection of Peace and North West, the State’s plans for Capital Boulevard bridge replacements, and the City’s plans for a Capital Boulevard corridor revitalization, it can be seen as a key part of a much larger revitalization of a part of the City that has seen comparatively little change over the last few decades.

A rendering of the proposed Smokey Hollow development

With Your Permit-ssion

A space that once housed the offices of the Capital Club, a group described in a historic landmark application as “one of the oldest and most prominent organizations for men in the South,” will soon be transformed. HQ Raleigh, a co-working space in downtown, will occupy five floors of office space in order to offer its members shared conference rooms, a cafe, and a bar in the flexible workspace.

The Capital Club building at 16 West Martin Street

The 12-story building at 16 West Martin Street was designed and built in 1929 in a style described as one that embodied “the combination of Art Deco motifs with traditional regional architectural practice.”

HQ Raleigh will be taking over the top five stories of the building, a $2.2 million project, that will renovate about 20,000 square feet of space. While much of the building was originally designed and utilized for office space, floors nine through twelve originally offered the Capital Club space for its own offices, “as well as a billiard room, lounges, kitchens, dining rooms, and a ballroom,” which makes it sound more like the mansion from Clue than a standard office building. It seems these amenities were a must have since, according to the historic landmark application, “the Capital Club Building is associated with the lives of the individuals who dominated the governmental, commercial, and industrial affairs of the state during the five decades beginning in 1885.”

The 12th floor will be transformed back into a lounge that will be completely restored to its original Art Deco iteration. The project’s designer, Maurer Architecture, specializes in historic building renovation projects, and we imagine the lounge especially will be a sight to behold.

A few other permits worth mentioning:

  • A new Handee Hugos will open across the street from Brier Creek Elementary at 9910 Sellona Street, just south of the Brier Creek Parkway and slightly east of Aviation Parkway. The 4,520 square foot convenience store will be built for $790,978 by Bunn Brantley Enterprises.
  • A new $2.5 million, 7,797 square foot structure for online auto retailer Carvana is coming to a space on Navaho Drive. Apparently, you can buy a car off the website and have it delivered within one day, a concept that could really take impulse online shopping to a whole new level. The one-story sales and storage building will be built by Parkway C&A.
  • Permits were issued for the new $3.9 million Gresham Lake Storage Facility. The three-story, 97,832 square foot building will be constructed by the MTC Corporation.
  • A dozen $100,000 permits were issued to Balfour Beatty Construction for an extensive interior renovation project at the First Citizens Bank building at 100 E Tryon Road. The permits indicate that about 9,000 square feet of space, about 10 percent of the building’s total, will be fixed up as part of this project.
  • Feel the burn: fitness franchise Burn Boot Camp will soon be opening its fourth area location at a space in the Lake Boone Shopping Center on Wycliff Road. As the center is also home to the delectable Chubby’s Tacos, we hope the future Boot Camp bros don’t end up consuming more calories than they burn. American Enterprises LLC will handle the $77,884, 8,081 square foot project.

Now What’s the Next Step in Your Master Plan?

If at first you don’t succeed…

While D&N Development’s original plans for Spencer Ridge — a $50 million mixed-use development anchored by a 50,000 square foot grocery store at the intersection of Falls of the Neuse and Raven Ridge — didn’t work out as they’d hoped, the developer refused to give up the ghost.

A newly submitted master plan describes a scaled-back version that includes less retail and more residential. According to the application, this 17.32 acre site located north of 540 will “blend between 150-220 residential dwelling units, including Raleigh’s first voluntary rezoning commitment of affordable housing with a mix of commercial uses, including retail spaces, eating establishments, office spaces, and medical office spaces. The residential dwelling units will have most, if not all, of their designated parking spaces underground to ensure that land area impacts are minimized.”

Stormwater retention plans for Spencer Ridge

So far, so good.

The plans describe Spencer Ridge as a “pedestrian oriented community” where residents can “live, work, dine and/or shop.” At least they didn’t say live, work and play. The community will have a number of “pedestrian walks” throughout, and 10 percent of the site will be dedicated to open space that can be used for things like community gatherings and dog walking.

While the original plan faced rejection from both the neighborhood — the North Citizens Advisory Council voted 224-89 against it last August — and the Planning Commission, which voted to recommend denial in October, the developer hopes its new focus on walkability and improving the surrounding traffic flow may help this version find acceptance.

The property will contain:
-3 one-story general use buildings no larger than 10,250, 20,000, and 49,500 square feet.
-A two-story mixed-use building that won’t exceed a total of 31,250 square feet, with a maximum of 16,750 square feet of retail or eating establishment, and a maximum of 14,500 square feet of office or medical office space.
-An apartment or condo building that will have no more than 150 and no less than 190 units.

Rezoning for Retail

A vacant 1.25 acre parcel at 5710 Glenwood Avenue not far from Crabtree Valley Mall and next to a new Enterprise Car Sales lot may be transformed into a low-key retail development.

This site on Glenwood Avenue could soon be home to a small retail development

Rezoning case Z-3-17 would, according to applicant RD Construction, rezone the parcel from Residential-4 to Office Mixed-Use 3. Ty Armstrong from RD Construction told us that when they purchased the property it contained a home that had been condemned by the City of Raleigh, an eyesore the company tore down last summer. The rezoning application noted that the site has suffered from “vagrancy and loitering” in the past.

While the OX-3 designation would allow for RD to build up to three stories, Armstrong said they plan to keep an existing conservation overlay in place that would, among other restrictions, limit the maximum height to two-and-a-half stories.

“Given its immediate proximity to Glenwood Avenue, we do not feel a single-family dwelling is a feasible option,” Armstrong said, explaining that this is in line with goals laid out in the City’s Comprehensive Plan, which discourages single-family residential on major thoroughfares such as Glenwood Avenue.

While Armstrong says they are still ironing out many of the specifics, the rezoning application describes the overall plan as a “small scale development that is pedestrian and transit friendly in massing and layout” and notes that the rezoning would enable “the potential provision of retail uses on the site.”

A meeting held in December allowed neighbors to make their voices heard about the project. Among the issues discussed were a preference for single-family or office over retail, an opposition to anything open at night, and concerns about light pollution, noise and traffic. Residents also argued that because the neighborhood isn’t walkable, there is no need for neighborhood retail. Sounds like RD Construction has their work cut out for them!

5710 Glenwood

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