Edison Plans Scaled Down, but Inching Forward

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A renderig of the original vision for "The Edison" towers.

Plans for the $400 million  mixed-used development downtown known as “The Edison” are moving forward, but on a much smaller scale.

In 2006, Edison Land, LLC developers purchased about four acres in the block bordered by Wilmington, Martin, Blount and Davie Streets. Developers envisioned four towers soaring as high as 38 stories.

Instead, Phase One of the project will be a $30 million six-story residential mixed-use development with 239 units and 18,000 square feet of retail space. The Edison Apartments will be constructed on the southern side of the block.

Edison developer Gregg Sandreuter confirmed the scaled-back scope of phase one this week, but did not say what his plans are for the remaining part of the property.

For now, the recession has reduced the likelihood of taller office building construction.

“It is dramatically scaled back from the original plan for that block,” said City Manager Russell Allen.

A rendering of the possible Edison Apartments along Davie Street. Site plans have not yet been submitted to the city.

City councilors Tuesday agreed to sell 300 downtown parking spaces in the Blount Street parking deck to Edison Land LLC for $8.2 million. The spaces will accompany the first phase of the project. Per the agreement, Edison Land will lease-to-own the spaces at $27,000 each during the next 20 years.

Edison has until Jan. 1, 2013 to begin construction. Developers have not yet submitted the phase one plans to the city for approval.

“But, the parking is a critical component for the developer to be successful in getting their financing and starting the process,” Allen said.

The proposal includes razing Clyde Cooper’s Barbecue, which has been in its Davie Street location since 1938. Cooper’s Owner Randy Holt said his plans for the eatery are up in the air until the developer’s plans are settled.

“If we did move we would try to stay in the same general location,” he said.

Per the agreement, Edison has the option to purchase the two empty retail spaces within the Blount Street deck at a minimum cost of about $426,000 — the city’s build cost. Allen said that one of the empty retail spaces could be a potential storefront for the displaced restaurant.

Allen told members of the Budget and Economic Development Committee the parking lease is a win for both sides: Edison Land can begin building and the city can recoup the deck cost. Construction the parking deck cost the city about $17,000 per space.

A rendering of the possible Edison Apartments along Davie Street. Site plans have not yet been submitted to the city.

15 thoughts on “Edison Plans Scaled Down, but Inching Forward

  1. As someone who prefers the Parisian model of downtown density over the Manhattan /skyscraper model, I think this is great.

  2. I don’t really have a problem with developing this now and at a smaller scale, instead of waiting a decade or more for a skyscraper tenant that may or may not ever even turn up. My beef with this is that if they’re going for a small scale project, they should do it on the part of the lot that is already vacant, and leave the historic buildings at the corner of Wilmington and Davie as is. Cooper’s et al take up less than a quarter of this lot.

  3. It’s a shame that money means more than doing the noble thing to preserve and old historic landmark like Clyde Cooper’s BBQ. When, in fact, it would be easy to build around, however,
    again money is more important to some people than saving Clyde Cooper’s BBQ in it’s original state!!! Clyde Cooper’s should be sold to Randy and Debbie Holt so they can hopefully have
    the building to become a historic landmark or the developer buy the air space over Cooper’s and build around it. What do you ALL think???????

  4. I recall reading an article that these buildings on Wilmington and Davie, although old, are not historic. Also, the Holt’s seemed satisfied regarding a move due to their issues with plumbing and ventilation in this old Cooper’s building. Some structures are simply not worth preserving.

  5. orulz, Just because a building is old doesn’t mean it’s “historic”. We wont miss any of the buildings that still stand on that block if the street level retail component here is done correctly.

  6. Understand the economy is an issue. But Sandrueter has no clue of architecture. This should not get approval if the parking deck is hovering above the building, are they just stupid? City Council better not approve this pathetic design. Sorry, do not agree with scaling back The Edison. I travel and still see downtown high rise development. Our problem, these small developers in the triangle who are clueless

  7. I assume there will be retail all around the building? If not, not not approve this project. I agree with thimas, the building needs to be higher than the parking deck (are you kidding if it is not).
    Another example of wasting valuable downtown property. Use one of the four corners and build a 20-30 story apartment building instead of wasting the entire street with a sad six story building. UGLY design, JUST LIKE that pathetic Dawson

    Wow, can these local developers are just awful

  8. This is a pathetic excuse of land use. I do support the developer’s efforts – Gregg is a good guy, in my book – but this building can be consolidated in one of the corners on the Blount Str side instead of taking up the entire Davie Str section. Build something 12-15 stories tall and stop making more excuses about the economy. Yes, it will cost more, but every good quality project costs more. This is an opportunity to redevelop this area with some decent projects, not one-of-the-same. All of the sudden, the demand for rental units translate into a big mess. Go to Glenwood South, East of Moore Square or to other transitional areas… Don’t build this on a prime location.

    Sorry about the rant, but the impact that this scale-down will have is more than just losing – and misusing – valuable real estate. I would rather see the developer canceling the entire project than being part of a big mess that will remain there for another 40-50 years. I applaud Ted & David Reynolds and Greg Hatem for abandoning their plans for The Hillsborough and Lafayette, respectively – although it took them longer than it should to come to the decision. If you can’t deliver the goods, get out of the way and don’t ruin the chances for others.

  9. I’m thinking about starting a petition drive on change.org to try and stop this weak project, build a high rise apartment for this location, COME ON GREG!

  10. I am a strong supporter of density….especially within the city core. I also believe that high-rise construction is not necessary to achieve efficient, livable density. In that sense, I have no objection to the scale of the project. However, limited ground floor retail and housing is not the highest and best use of this property and I think the developers should consider getting more mixed use integrated with their pro forma. I certainly aspire to have diversity and small, locally owned businesses. But a bold move that would make them heroes would be to court one one or several national retailers into their development. Only sweeping cultural change at a national scale would not make this a realistic request as these are the agents of creating a mature city with a full range of services for 24 hour living. Beyond the issues of content, its appearance strikes me a cheap and suburban and I think they need to reinvestigate how to distinguish their development as unique to Raleigh, rather than borrowing language from Charlotte or many other second tier cities in the southeast.

  11. It is not worth tearing down Coopers for a 6 story plain boring apartment block. The Edison was inspiring. I agree with one of the other posts. Build a taller apartment building and leave Coopers alone for now. People will pay the higher rent associated with the taller construction. If they will pay 1200 dollars a month for 700 sq feet at North Hills, I am sure they will pay the same for downtown.

  12. This is ridiculous. The Edison was going to be iconic for the city. It was a beautiful design and a bold statement to the rest of the world that Raleigh is a real city. A *real* city, to be taken seriously. Building this absurd scaled-down version basically says instead “we’re a small town without vision and we don’t care if we’re forgettable, uninspiring, and dull.”

    If there’s a petition to stop this new version just tell me where to sign.

  13. I am serious about the petition drive to the City Council ,Mayor and Mr.Sandrueter, however this ugly pic is just a rendering. I want to learn more about this project before I pull the trigger on a petition, I have a feeling this project is going to change again to something more appealing and besides. I was hoping Ernest would take the hint and start the petition drive , what do you say Ernest? 😉

  14. Scott,

    I had posted a reply here, but I don’t know what happened to it. Anyway, I would be on the forefront of creating the petition, but for reasons I cannot mention here I can’t do that – no, I am not working for Gregg or the architectural firm.

    One of the many concerns I have regarding this monstrosity is the tone it will set for future developments within our CBD. Imagine what Charter Square would look like if the developers scaled it down to 10-12 floors. I no longer want to see ugly structures (i.e. One Hannover Square) overwhelming nicer buildings (assuming Charter Square will be a nice building). Likewise, The Edison can do miracles for our city’s image, as it will obscure other pathetic excuses of architecture – that will remain unnamed for now – and most important, it will stand WAAAAAY above parking decks. If Gregg gets the green light for this excuse of land use, who says he won’t do the same for the Northern part of the block? I want Gregg to succeed, but with good ideas.

    Maybe someone can answer this, but why Gregg cannot combine the 7-story West Apartments with his new version of The Edison? Yes, the cost is higher, but so will be the benefits. I wonder if he has committed to redeveloping the parcel next to the West by a certain date…

  15. All you have to do is to look at the West and the Dawson at Morgan to quickly realize this developer will only make Raleigh uglier. Greed is a terrible thing and the City leaders should know better.