Development Beat: Future Demolition Friday

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The former Milner Inn & Foxy Lady

James Borden/Raleigh Public Record

The former Milner Inn & Foxy Lady

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Friday, September 9, 2016

It’s been far too long since we had the chance to write about the old Foxy Lady gentlemen’s club here in the Development Beat, so when I saw a demolition contract on the agenda for this week’s Council meeting, I jumped at the chance to cover it.

Torn down in early 2015, the Foxy Lady was attached to the  low-slung, one-story Milner Inn and was located on the 1800 block of Capital BouleIvard.

The Milner Inn & The Foxy Lady, still standing the day after heavy flooding

The Milner Inn & The Foxy Lady, still standing the day after heavy flooding

The city had been working for years to acquire not only the Milner Inn/Foxy Lady property, but several adjacent ones as well, with plans to turn the flood-prone zone into a park/greenway space.

The site of the former Milner Inn & Foxy Lady

The site of the former Milner Inn & Foxy Lady

The demolition for Milner/Foxy was bid out in late 2014 and was eventually awarded to the Janezic Building Corp for $180,876. The contract entails “asbestos abatement services, structure demolition and removal of the parking lot and access bridge that is located on the property.”

About two months ago, I was driving up Capital Boulevard when I noticed that another motel along the same stretch as Milner Inn, The Capital Inn, had been closed up and fenced off. I filmed a brief Periscope video and speculated that its time was nigh.

It turns out that prediction was a little premature, as a demolition contract with the City of Raleigh was only approved this week. Janezic will once again be handling the work, this time for $209,200. This demolition, which, like the rest of the work involved in this project, will be largely funded through a FEMA grant.

Work on this contract will also include the demolition of the old Dunkin’ Donuts building — Raleigh’s first — which shut down years ago (June of 2014) and has sat vacant ever since.

A rendering of North Boulevard Park

A rendering of North Boulevard Park

As mentioned above, the City will eventually turn all this newly vacant space into the North Boulevard Park, which will serve not only as a green space of its own but as a connector between existing portions of the city’s greenway trail system. The park will be connected via a paved walkway that will extend from Crabtree Boulevard to Atlantic Avenue.

City officials now predict it will take between five and 10 years before it has acquired and destroyed all of the property that now sits in the Capital Boulevard floodplain. Once this phase of its plan is complete, the city will bury all memories of the site’s former existence beneath mounds of rich soil as it begins construction of the ominously titled North Boulevard Park.

While the stated goal for the park is to restore the creek and bring back natural floodplain functions, its planned absorption by the Greenway System hints at who’s really pulling the strings here. The park will be connected via a paved walkway that will extend from Crabtree Boulevard to Atlantic Avenue.

While we believe the City has now wrapped up most of the acquisition portion of this project, and will soon finish the demolition phase, it’s worth noting that the former is a process that took years.  According to the minutes from a Feb. 19, 2013, City Council meeting, negotiations with the owners of the Milner Inn took several years to close.

After notifying the City Council of nearly $1.5 million in grant money for the project, then-City Manager Russell Allen told them that the project was a “volunteer thing on the part of the owners of the Milner Inn; they are willing to sell the property.”

However, as the minutes also quote Allen as saying “the building be demolished and the area become green space,” their veracity should best be taken with a grain of salt. Either that or Allen was minutes away from hulking out on the Councilors.

The grant money — $1,100,785 from the feds and $366,928 from the state — is to be used for the “acquisition and demolition of five structures at the Milner Inn on Capital Boulevard.” Thanks, Obama.

While nothing will make up for the loss of the treasured and historic businesses that once lined this strip of Capital Boulevard — a bowling alley, low-end motels, a Dunkin’ Donuts, a strip club — we’re excited to see what the future holds for this portion of Capital.

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