Development Beat: Week of January 25

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Friday, January 29, 2016

Often when we talk about the impact of a new development or rezoning case on an existing neighborhood, it’s mostly in a hypothetical sense: will there be more traffic, how will this affect surrounding property values, etc.


City of Raleigh


Zoning case Z-2-2016, however, will impact an entire neighborhood in a much different way.

The case would designate the Glenwood-Brooklyn neighborhood in central Raleigh as a Historic Overlay District. Located off Glenwood Avenue near Fred Fletcher Park, the neighborhood traces its roots back to the early 20th century.

According to a historic research report prepared by the city, the Glenwood-Brooklyn Historic Overlay District includes the Glenwood Historic District, which was listed in the National Register in 1985 and was expanded in 2001 to include most of the adjoining Brooklyn neighborhood.

These streetcar suburbs of Raleigh were developed by the Glenwood Land Company in the early 20th century. According to the report “the Glenwood-Brooklyn neighborhood in its present form was conceived in 1905-07, no resources are known to survive from before 1907.”

This house, first built in 1909, is one of the many historic homes in the district

Google Maps

This house, first built in 1909, is one of the many historic homes in the district

It goes on to note that “On the basis of architectural significance the period of significance runs from 1907 to 1940 the approximate division point between the primarily historic styles that characterized development during the first half of the twentieth century and the styles that followed. Although the district has experienced some construction after 1940, these resources are not exceptionally significant and few in number.”

The development was apparently an immediate hit, as the report notes that Raleigh businessman Fred Olds wrote in the 1907 annual report of the Chamber of Commerce: “The northern suburb, Glenwood, has been developed remarkably. During the year 100 lots have been sold out of a total of 500, of which less than half so far have been put on the market. Contracts have been made for 26 residences … and these are built or underway.”

The historic overlay on Glenwood-Brooklyn would not change the underlying zoning for the 80 acres it encompasses. Rather, it would create a design review process for exterior changes on the front of the property. It would have limited application to changes made on the side of a property and would not apply to most rear changes.

An overview map of the area proposed for rezoning

Bing Maps

An overview map of the area proposed for rezoning

A meeting held in December to discuss the case drew 33 area residents, who raised questions such as whether this will affect chimneys. It will — provided the chimney 50 percent located in front of a house.

According to staff, the first 50 percent of an existing house in a historic overlay district is subject to a certificate of approval review process. Side additions and side-yard accessory buildings would also be reviewed.

A neighborhood survey found that 63 percent of residents were in favor of the Overlay designation, while only 4 percent were opposed. 5 percent had no opinion and 28 percent had no response.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Last week saw a limited number of commercial renovation projects, likely due in part to Friday’s storm. Of the ones issued, however, several were for local restaurants.

First up were a series of permits for the new Dram & Draught, a new private tavern being developed in a former auto body shop located at 623 Hillsborough Street, across from Char-Grill and near intersection with Glenwood Avenue.

The future site of Dram & Draught

Wake County

The future site of Dram & Draught

The 1,473 square-foot space will be re-adapted to house the new 96-person occupancy bar. In addition to the $141,610 change of use permit, Bost Construction Company also received permits for a walk-in cooler, an outdoor patio/ramp and a patio canopy.

As for the name of the new place, Dram is apparently a slang term for a small drink of whiskey, and Draught is the English spelling of draft, an adjective that describes beer served from a barrel or a tank as opposed to a bottle or a can.

The site plans filed back in October for Dram & Draught didn’t offer up a ton of detail, but they did paint a picture of a place that will likely be described with terms like “cozy” and “intimate” rather than “spacious” and “sprawling.”

Site plans for Dram & Draught

City of Raleigh

Site plans for Dram & Draught

Next up we’ve got a $30,000 alteration job in the kitchen of the Raleigh Times, located at 210 South Wilmington Street. The Raleigh Times is one of a number of downtown hot spots that belongs to the Empire Eats family of restaurants.

Other eateries include The Pit, Sitti and Gravy. The renovation at Raleigh Times is listed at $30,000 and is not surprisingly being handled by Empire Hard Hat Construction. Empire Hard Hat is, of course, a subsidiary of Empire Development, which owns Empire Eats along with a good chunk of downtown real estate.

A small — as in $600 — interior demolition job was permitted last week at Player’s Retreat at 105 Oberlin Road, work that will be done by Benjamin Hale Builders. And yes, Player’s Retreat is a restaurant, not a seedy gentleman’s club like the gone-but-not-forgotten Foxy Lady on Capital Boulevard.

Our final restaurant project involves the renovation of a long-dormant Wendy’s at 3400 Olympia Drive off South Wilmington Street in South Raleigh. It’s one of those buildings that, even without any signage or prior knowledge, you know it used to be a Wendy’s. It has that weird bubble-domed seating area around the perimeter that, for a time, was a critical part of any Wendy’s. Now that’s gone, replaced by fake fireplaces and more upscale décor.

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 5.12.59 AM

Google Maps

The former Wendy’s on Olympia Drive in June of 2014

But this long-standing fast-food joint, first built in 1977, won’t be getting turned into a modern-day Wendy’s. Nope: it’s getting turned into a modern-day Waffle House. Which we imagine isn’t all that different from, say, a 1977-era Waffle House.

That’s not to pick on the chain; actually, I think Waffle House is pretty decent. No idea why it has such a bad rep. And the chain is renowned for its ability to open in even the most extreme weather conditions. Seriously, if we happen to get a snowstorm that lasts for more than a day this year, and you’re stuck in your house with no food and no power, seek out a Waffle House.

The Wendy's on Olympia Drive in May of 2013, only a year before the previous picture was taken. What a difference!

The Wendy’s on Olympia Drive in May of 2013, only a year before the previous picture was taken. What a difference!

There wasn’t much else in the way of permits last week, although it does appear as if the upscale bridal boutique Traditions by Anna will be relocating to the Marketplace at Lake Boone, otherwise known as the home of Guasaca.

The $100,000 renovation of the 3,840 square-foot space at 4035 Lake Boone Trail will be done by JCI Builders.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Rea Venture Group, an Atlanta-based affordable housing developer, has filed a rezoning case for a piece of land in far Northeast Raleigh at 2925 Forestville Road.

The possible site of a new affordable housing development

The possible site of a new affordable housing development

According to a letter Rea Ventures Group sent to surrounding neighbors, the rezoning would allow for the development of a 100-unit affordable housing community made up of three-story apartments and townhomes.

Rea Ventures has developed a number of multifamily properties throughout the Southeast, including Abbington Gardens of Winston Salem. Abbington Gardens is also an affordable housing development, and was funded both by the city of Winston-Salem and the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency.

Plans for Abbington Gardens in Winston-Salem

Plans for Abbington Gardens in Winston-Salem

Although the planned development in Northeast Raleigh does not yet have a name, we’re just going to refer to it as Forestville Gardens for the sake of simplicity.

Like Abbington Gardens, Forestville Gardens will also be managed by the Charlotte-based GEM Property Management. In a meeting held with existing neighbors on January 5, concerns were expressed that GEM did not have a “good track record.”

RVG representatives responded that they were unsure where this perception came from, and that they had no indications that GEM was unsuitable in any way. RVG feels that “their experience in North Carolina and in other states is sufficient for hiring GEM to manage our NC developments.”

Anyone who’s ever looked online for reviews of apartment management companies knows they can expect a lot of low ratings and angry rantings. So it was somewhat surprising to find that the only two reviews for GEM on Yelp were both five-stars.

Yellow Pages was more of a mixed-bag; a five-star, a two-star and two one-stars. One of those one-stars was a little … unsettling, and should perhaps not be taken as an indictment of GEM. An excerpt: “I called the main office to set up an appointment to talk about the PAID RENT/Mental Cruelty, A.D.A., ETC!? Kim was mentally cruel on the phone with me”

I’ll say this: I definitely prefer the apartment management companies that are physically cruel to the ones that are mentally cruel. What would be a worse outcome if your rent was late: your arm gets broken, or you get told repeatedly that you’re worthless, that no one will ever love you and you’ll die alone? Some wounds just don’t heal.

At the January 5 meeting, neighbors also expressed concern that this would be Section 8 housing, but RVG management explained that the Low Income Housing Tax Credits they would be applying for were different from a project receiving PBRA funding for Section 8.

Plans for Abbington Gardens in Winston-Salem

Plans for Abbington Gardens in Winston-Salem

On a similar note, existing residents were concerned that the property would not be well maintained. RVG assured them that that all of the units would be professionally managed and maintained, and that audits of the property and routine maintenance checks on the units would ensure they remain in good shape.

Additionally, there will be property staff on site to deal with any issues that may arise, and a professional landscaping company will be hired to maintain the grounds.

The redevelopment and rezoning are both contingent on the sale of the two properties that make up the site, 2925 and 2929 Forestville Road to RVG. The properties have been owned since 1993 and 1996, respectively, by the Blinson family.

This site is current zoned R-4 (single family residential) and is proposed to be rezoned to RX (residential mixed use).

In their rezoning application, RVG says the new development will “provide attractive, comfortable and safe affordable housing for tenants near opportunities for work, health care, grocery stores, retail, and education.”

In addition, it will “create an estimated 150-170 jobs during construction and an estimated $4 million or more in taxable construction costs.”

Sounds like a pretty good deal. It also says the apartments will provide an affordable place to live for the next 30 years, giving a good idea of the development’s life span.

Magnolia Plantation, one of Rea Venture Group's developments

Magnolia Plantation, one of Rea Venture Group’s developments

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Today’s Teardown Tuesday topic traces back to a project we first talked about in November of last year; a new Breeze Thru gas station in Southeast Raleigh.


In late October, demolition permits were issued for the carwash, but not the convenience store itself. We predicted (accurately!) at the time that more permits would have to be issued before this job was finished. Specifically, permits would have to be issued for the demolition of the existing convenience store.

On January 21, Sela Building Corporation received demolition permits for the demolition of the 1,440 convenience store first built in 1981. The permits were valued at $10,000.

The carwash demolition, also handled by Sela, was listed at a mere $4,000.

The Cary Oil Company has owned the now Citgo-branded gas station since 1979. It is likely that the new Breeze Thru will operate under the Citgo banner as well, as the other two Breeze-Thrus in Raleigh are associated with this brand as well.

According to the Facebook page for Breeze Thru Markets, this will be store No. 66 for the chain; it will be the third Breeze Thru in Raleigh.

According to a number of online reviews, Breeze Thrus are apparently known for their relatively cheap gas and a cash discount that gives customers 5 cents off per gallon.

From Breeze Thru's Facebook page

Breeze Thru Markets

From Breeze Thru’s Facebook page

Pretty good deal. However, the most helpful review by far we were able to find was posted on Foursquare in October 2011 by Jeremy Bobbit. Of the Leesville Road Breeze Thru in Raleigh, Bobbit wrote: “The clip that holds the gas handle down is broken on pump 2.”

On December 31, the chain posted the following on its Facebook page:

We’re looking forward to 2016, and serving you at our newest location: Breeze Thru #66, 3405 Poole Road, Raleigh!

How’s the construction of the new store going? See for yourself! Removal of the existing canopy and gas dispensers, as well as demolition of the old store, are scheduled to take place soon. We’ll need that space for our new fuel presence!

Monday, January 25, 2016

As we kick off another week of the Development Beat, we’re fortunate to have three new building projects to look at, despite last week’s cold and, eventually, icy weather.

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A site overview of Skyland Ridge

First up is a new office/storage building on a vacant lot at 10410 Globe Road in North Raleigh. Just south of 540 and not far from either Aviation or Brier Creek Parkway, the site was acquired by its current owner, Discover Properties LLC, in January of 2014. The LLC traces back to a private residence.

The new building will be a one-story, 14,052 square-foot structure. We’re guessing the intent is to build out the shell, and then do build-to-suit work on the interior depending on the tenants. That’s all speculation of course.

This job is being handled by Jeff Cheny for $670,200.

The next two projects aren’t strictly new buildings, at least not yet, but we figured they’re close enough to count.

Retaining wall permits were issued on January 21 to Brasfield & Gorrie for the Skyland Ridge development at 7820 Brier Creek Parkway. Developed out of rezoning case Z-37-14, the development of the property will be handled by SLF Ruby Jones/Stratford Land. Once retaining wall permits have been issued, new building permits are typically not far behind.

Skyland Ridge is planned as either a retail or an office development, and, like the Globe Road job, will likely be built-to-suit to a certain degree.

Finally this week, retaining wall permits have been issued for the new Corporate Center Apartments in West Raleigh, not far from the PNC Arena.

The Corporate Center Apartments

City of Raleigh

The Corporate Center Apartments

The Corporate Center Apartments — so named after the largest nearby road, and the depressing fact that it backs up to a large corporate center — was listed on planning documents filed last year as a 316-unit, 285,000 square-foot complex.

The plans, drawn up by Kimley Horne by Pollack Shores Real Estate Group, depict the complex as one spread across eight buildings on a now-vacant 15.8 acre lot.

Of the 316 proposed units, 142 are one-bedroom, 142 are two-bedroom and 43 are three-bedroom. The apartments will be accompanied by 524 parking spaces, a selection of garage spaces, a courtyard area, two stormwater rain gardens and a stormwater retention pond.

This road divides the new apartment complex from a large parking lot for the adjacent corporate center

Google Maps

This road divides the new apartment complex from a large parking lot for the adjacent corporate center

Despite its Corporate Center name, the address listed for the complex is actually 1229 Nowell Road, near its intersection with Conference Drive. Corporate Center Drive is separated from the lot in question by a small, unnamed road and a giant parking lot.

The developer, Pollack Shores Real Estate, is responsible for a number of properties in Florida, which may help this new complex appeal to the Glenwood South crowd, as well as one in Atlanta and another in Nashville.

abbcPollack Shores was also, according to its website, the “2014 winner of Atlanta’s 101 Best & Brightest companies to work for.” Ever the diligent journalist, I looked up this list, and found that nearly every company listed on it is a “winner.” These winners are ranked in alphabetical order. 12 of the 101 are listed as elite winners, but Pollack Shores is not among them. Pollack Shores was not listed on the 2015 list. Ouch.


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