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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.