Development Beat: Decision on Publix Development Delayed

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The controversial site of a new development off Falls of Neuse

James Borden/Raleigh Public Record

The controversial site of a new development off Falls of Neuse

The first rezoning case of 2014 has also proved to be one of its most contentious, pitting northeast Raleigh homeowners against developers who wish to build a Publix-anchored shopping center off Falls of Neuse Road.

This could be the future site of a Publix-anchored shopping center

James Borden / Raleigh Public Record

This could be the future site of a Publix-anchored shopping center

Following a contentious, three-hour Committee of the Whole meeting last week, planning commissioners on Tuesday chose to defer the case, allowing the developers more time to address their opponents’ concerns.

The drawn-out nature of this case should come as little surprise to those involved — when planning commissioners gave the go-ahead to get the process started in November 2013, they warned that the developers would face a long rezoning fight over the project.

At the time, commissioner Joe Lyle noted, “This is going to be a difficult rezoning.”

He had no idea. Since then, there have been three valid statutory protest petitions, which bar city council from approving a project without a three-fourths majority vote.

Signs protesting the new Publix can be seen right across the street from the potential site

James Borden / Raleigh Public Record

Signs protesting the new Publix can be seen right across the street from the potential site

The petitions require the signatures of 20 percent of surrounding property owners, although one man — David Cox — handled the filing of all three.

Cox, a nearby resident and the founder of Grow Raleigh Great, has been an outspoken opponent of not only the Publix project, but any development that could impact existing neighborhoods.

In a variety of public meetings, from City Council to Comprehensive Planning, Cox has pointed out approved  developments that are inconsistent with the language and intent of the Comprehensive Plan and UDO.

The Publix case in particular, Cox has argued, is a problem because the land in question, designated neighborhood mixed-use, prohibits “super stores/centers,” which, at a proposed 50,000 square feet, they argue the grocery store would be.

A recent report by city staff, however, found that “The proposal is consistent with the Future Land Use map and most pertinent policies of the Comprehensive Plan. At issue are potential reductions in street intersection level of service, and uncertainty regarding building massing and parking lot placement.”

How the project will move forward at this point remains to be seen; what kind of concessions the developer may be willing to make, and what neighbors like Cox may be willing to accept are details that will have to be hammered out at a future date.

Happening Now-Ish
The former Shell Station on Glenwood Avenue in front of the Crabtree Valley Mall will soon be home to a new 5,200 square-foot office building. Dubbed “The Jaguar,” the office will be used for financial services firm Charles Schwab. Finally, people who can afford to eat at the mall food court!

schwab

A rendering of the new “Jaguar” office building

Designed by Raleigh’s New City Design Group, the building will feature floating glass walls and a landscaped terrace. In July, developer Plaza Associates told the Triangle Business Journal that they intend the structure to be “an iconic piece of architecture.” Which will be a tall order, given that the breathtaking design of the Shell station made the site a popular tourist destination.

The future site of a new Montessori School

James Borden / Raleigh Public Record

The future site of a new Montessori School

Parents wishing to idle away the hours at the art museum after dropping their children off at school — that’s how rich people spend their days, right? — will surely appreciate the location of the new Follow The Child Montessori School, which is just off Blue Ridge Road near the North Carolina Museum of Art.

The $2.2 million project, with two new buildings clocking in at 9,000 and 8,000 square feet, is being handled by McKee Building Group.

As if Pho wasn’t amazing enough on its own, many restaurateurs choose to go the extra mile and work a clever pun into the title — Phonomenal, Phoever Young, Absolutely Phobulous — although Raleigh’s Pho joints have to this point been lacking an entrant into this rare echelon of hilariously delicious restaurants.

The future home of Pho Pho Pho

James Borden / Raleigh Public Record

The future home of Pho Pho Pho

But that’s all about to change with the opening of Pho Pho Pho at 510 Glenwood Avenue. Located on the ground floor of a condominium building — which is seriously unfair, the only thing of note on the ground floor of this reporter’s condo building is a guy named Too Tall Tommy — the restaurant will take up 3,300 square feet of space. To get in the spirit of things, let’s just say, I can’t wait Pho this place to open up.

Although its planned August opening date has come and gone, King’s Bowling at North Hills should be opening its doors very soon to the general public (pho real!). $243,167 worth of permits were issued to complete the space’s renovation, and the company’s website boasts an October 20 opening date.

The interior of a King's Bowling Center

The interior of a King’s Bowling Center

Like Sparians, the luxury bowling center that preceded it, Kings will offer customers a full-service restaurant to go along with their full-priced bowling. Kings has also announced plans to add shuffleboard, more television sets and additional billiard and Ping-Pong tables.

MADabolic, a gym franchise that “distinguishes itself through a unique edge in brand design, which is strongly matched by an unparalleled fitness concept and program design.” will soon be opening a location at 410 S. Dawson street. The Dawson street building is owned by Empire Properties, a prolific downtown Raleigh developer that owns a significant amount of property in the Warehouse District.

The future home of MADabolic

James Borden / Raleigh Public Record

The future home of MADabolic

While downtown Raleigh certainly has its share of upscale, boutique gyms, it’s inevitable that MADabolic’s “brand design” will certainly help them stomp the competition. The company’s website offers a warning to cheapskates: “Our goal is excellence and the price reflects that.” Ouch!

Coming Soon
Planning Commissioners did more than delay action on the year’s most exciting commercial development: it also chose to push back a decision on a controversial (of course) housing development on Hillsborough Street near Meredith College.

At the request of the developer, the project will be discussed in the November 5 session of the planning commission’s Committee of the Whole. The commission also granted the project a 60-day extension, which will need to be approved in next week’s city council meeting.

This area off Hillsborough Street could eventually be home to a new housing complex

James Borden / Raleigh Public Record

This area off Hillsborough Street could eventually be home to a new housing complex

The commissioners did approve, however, two new site plans — one for Raleigh’s Union Station, and the other for a new office building on Glenwood Avenue.

A rendering of the new Union Station

A rendering of the new Union Station

As the Union Station project is being designed by Clearscapes, commission chair Steven Schuster, a founding principal at the firm, recused himself from voting.

Commissioners unanimously approved the site plan, but not before voicing “grave reservations about one of the architects on this project.” Poor Schuster.

The office building, to be located at 3515 Glenwood Avenue, was actually a resubmittal of a site plan previously heard by the planning commission in early September. At the time, the project did not receive the requisite number of affirmative votes, which meant the request would have been heard at a de novo quasi-judicial hearing in front of the city council.

This historic, modernist office structure, will likely be torn down

James Borden / Raleigh Public Record

This historic, modernist office structure, will likely be torn down

To avoid that, the developer reworked their plans, including in them planning commission suggestions for a bus shelter and an enhanced east-facing (Glenwood Avenue) facade.

Commissioner Adam Terando noted that these changes “show why planning commissions are important.”

“[Zoning] code isn’t perfect, and sometimes it takes some discussion to try to push things in the direction that the comprehensive plan is trying to take us,” Terando said.

We couldn’t agree more.

Although commissioners voted to approve the project, Schuster warned that because the project would result in the teardown of a modernist office building designed by Milton Small more than 50 years go “in 30 years we might look back on this day with sadness.” Poor Schuster.

The commission also approved a zoning case it had delayed in September, which would allow for another residential mixed-use development on Hillsborough Street. It would occupy the space once held by Hot Box Pizza.

The former home of Hot Box Pizza on Hillsborough Street

James Borden / Raleigh Public Record

The former home of Hot Box Pizza on Hillsborough Street

One thought on “Development Beat: Decision on Publix Development Delayed

  1. Thank you for reporting on the Z-1-14 rezoning case in North Raleigh, Mr. Borden. Your story notes the community’s opposition and that there are 3 Valid Statutory Protest Petitions for the rezoning. There’s been even more to it than the VSPPs. In fact, the opposition to Z-1-14 is historic for Raleigh. More than 3,400 area residents have signed a petition opposed to rezoning, and in June the North Citizens Advisory Council voted 522 to 23 to oppose rezoning. A City official noted that was 4 to 5 times greater than any previous CAC vote ever — and Raleigh has used CACs since the early 1970s as a means for residents to offer community guidance to City Council.

    Our community has learned more than we could ever imagine about the development process, and things like the 2030 Comprehensive Plan, the Unified Development Ordinance, Future Land Use Map, etc. And even such seemingly mundane facts as the Food Marketing Institute’s definition of a superstore (which the FMI identifies as at least 30,000 square feet, or far smaller than the proposed 50,000 square foot superstore). And less mundane facts, such as the developer’s traffic study that forecasts their destination shopping center would generate nearly 6,000 vehicle trips every day — and all of that traffic would traverse neighborhood streets. That turns our neighborhoods into shopping center access routes, and contradicts the city’s very important promises — and policies — that commit to balance growth appropriately with neighborhood protections. We assert that residential neighborhoods are NOT the places to build destination shopping centers. Development should enhance a community, not harm it. The Falls of Neuse site will be developed. It should be developed in a manner that benefits Raleigh versus causing irreparable harm to the people who call this community home.

    And here’s why everyone in Raleigh should take heed: while our community is fighting today, if Z-1-14 is approved, it’s open season for ALL neighborhoods. Simply put, the City cannot make promises to neighborhoods on the one hand, and then approve requests that render those promises empty. Z-1-14 must be denied.