Residents’ fears of an “urban canyon” on Hillsborough Street seem to have affected some Councilors after a vote this week to deny construction of a seven-story building there.
By a 2-to-1 vote, members of the Raleigh City Council’s Comprehensive Planning Committee Wednesday recommended the denial of a master plan change that would create a seven-story building in the controversial Stanhope development. The full Council gets the final say at its meeting Tuesday.
The Stanhope project is a set of mixed-use buildings containing apartments and retail space.
Developers requested a height change from 40 to 86 feet for the building to be constructed on the southeast corner of the intersection of Hillsborough and Concord streets.
In November, the Raleigh Planning Commission recommended Councilors approve the change. Neighbors, however, oppose the change, arguing a seven-story building will create problems with sunlight and traffic, turning Hillsborough Street into an urban canyon. Neighbors have asked for a five-story limit.
As a compromise, the developer offered to decrease the height of the building to 79 feet, which would put it at a similar visual level to the approved 75-foot, five-story Kerr Drugs building, nearby on Hillsborough Street and Friendly Drive.
Robin Currin, an attorney representing the developer, said her clients aren’t willing to commit to five stories.
“We worked long and hard to get the height of this building as low as we can,” Currin said. “We have done anything that we have been asked but for change the number of internal stories from seven to five.”
Council committee members Russ Stephenson and Randy Stagner said allowing this project will set a precedent for future seven-story buildings in the area. Councilor Bonner Gaylord, who favors the project, said such a precedent is fine; the density is necessary to bring future transit to the area, he said.
Councilors are considering a five-story maximum for Neighborhood Mixed-Use Districts as part of the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), a revamp of the city’s zoning code. The UDO has not yet been approved.
The committee’s recommendation will get a final vote by the full Council at its regular meeting Tuesday.