The site plan for Citrix’s new downtown home was approved by Raleigh planning commissioners on Tuesday in a 7-to-1 vote.
Earlier this year, Citrix announced that downtown’s Warehouse District would become the new home for the Raleigh offices. The project still has some design hurdles to overcome, most notably how to deal with the new train station planned for next door.
Commissioner Erin Sterling Lewis voted against the plan, not because she didn’t support the project, she said, but because it lacked details that she felt were important for approval.
Citrix came to Raleigh by way of ShareFile, a cloud-based data sharing company that was founded by Duke University graduate Jesse Lipson in 2005. Citrix purchased ShareFile last year.
In the short term, Citrix will be the sole tenant of one of the old Dillon Supply buildings that takes up the city block surrounded by Hargett, West and Morgan streets. Developers say they hope to expand the building to include more tenants in the future.
The building will include about 130,000 square feet of office space. The roof will be used for a cafeteria, garden and yoga studio.
Developers will also be building a parking deck to accommodate Citrix employees and visitors. The ground floor of the parking deck will include about 13,000 square feet of retail space.
Both the office space and the parking deck are being built to accommodate about 500 employees. Today, ShareFile employs about 130 people, but must add about 340 jobs to receive its economic development incentive grants from the City of Raleigh and the state.
Developer Tim Dockery with Crown Companies said that overall, the project is about a $50 million investment and that there are plans to continue to grow both the office space and the parking deck in the future.
Architect Jim Baker said the project is a challenge for multiple reasons, but the most difficult aspect is the unknown factor: transit.
The building sits between the Dillon Viaduct building, which recently received funding to become the new Amtrak train station, and a stop on the proposed – yet unfunded — light rail system.
While Amtrak is slated to use the nearby tracks, high-speed rail is the real uncertainty.
“It’s a 3D puzzle and we don’t have all of the parts at this time,” Baker said.
Baker added that designers had to build flexibility into the office building and parking deck to accommodate changes in the surrounding area, including providing easy access from the light rail stop to the train station.
On top of that, ShareFile needs to be out of its current office space by the end of next year, putting developers on a tight construction schedule.
Pedestrian use seemed to be the greatest concern for some commissioners, who had questions about the walkability of the area.
Developers said they are committed to making it a pedestrian-friendly area, but many of the details are still in the works.
Sterling Lewis said she’s excited about the project but that her major issue was the lack of information, particularly about the potential for adding height to both buildings, pedestrian use and the courtyard that would be between the office space and the parking deck.
She said that there hasn’t been as much attention to detail as there should be.
“I really support the case,” she said, “but I think I really need to see a lot more information to make the best assessment for this project.”
Commissioners ultimately approved the project after developers agreed to some conditions.
The owners of the building will commit to create retail space in the parking deck, provide canopies on at least 35 percent of the front of the building and come back to the Commission with plans for the building and courtyard for a courtesy review.