Development Beat: New Building Report

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James Borden/Raleigh Public Record

The Glenwood Gardens Apartments

Monday, February 15, 2016

Last week, we reported on the demolition of the Glenwood Gardens apartments at 2600 Glenwood Avenue, which are being torn down to make way for a bigger, fancier and no doubt pricier apartment complex.

The Glenwood Gardens Apartments

James Borden / Raleigh Public Record

The Glenwood Gardens Apartments

Apparently, developer Grubb Ventures isn’t wasting any time on getting this new complex up and running. Five days after the demolition permits were issued on February 4, permits were issued for new retaining walls at the site. Clancy & Theys is handling both the demolition and the retaining wall work.

Although we normally report on retaining wall permits as a precursor to new building permits, it’s hard to say how soon they’ll be issued in this case, as Grubb Ventures will be required to do a fair bit of site work on this job.

According to filings with the city, the Planning Commission requested that Grubb perform a number of actions, including the planting of 50 evergreen shrubs along the north side of the complex facing the golf course, the provision of a transit shelter and exterior bike racks.

The new development will also require updated and more intensive stormwater control measures, although it appears Grubb will only be footing 24 percent of the bill for the installation of said controls. They will also have to dedicate 8.2′ of right of way and a 20′ width slope easement along Glenwood Avenue for these controls.

Additionally, while the minimum number of required parking spaces is 364 — 1 parking space per studio unit, 1.5 parking spaces per 1 bedroom unit, 2 parking spaces per 2 bedroom unit, 2.5 spaces per 3 bedroom unit and 1 space per 300 square foot of office use — only 312 spaces will be provided.

This will allow 8,958 square feet of landscaped area on the site, 5,100 SF of which is required to meet the minimum requirements of the City’s landscape ordinance.

Once all the various sitework jobs have been completed, Clancy & Theys will be able to begin work on the new 258,450 square-foot, 188-unit multifamily development designed by JDavis Architects.

Site plans for the new apartment complex

Site plans for the new apartment complex

Although we haven’t gotten a look at the final plans or seen any sketch drawings of the new place, the initial site plans indicate that Grubb Ventures has chosen to go with the safe, if exceedingly generic design of brick and cream buildings. Which is basically the design/color scheme for 99 percent of the new apartment complexes getting built around the city.

While Glenwood Gardens, which was first built in the 1950s, is no iconic landmark or sterling example of stunning, creative design, it’s not a bad looking place and fits in well with the site: a nice, open courtyard, plenty of parking, low-slung brick buildings: it’s the quintessential mid-20th century affordable apartment complex.

We’d venture that what’s replacing it is likely to be the quintessential early 21st century apartment complex: pricey, generic looking and not necessarily built to last. Of course, that’s all speculation: we haven’t seen any of the architectural drawings or been able to gather much detail beyond what’s available in the site plans. So maybe this new complex will be a sterling example of the best multifamily housing has to offer. Who knows?

5 thoughts on “Development Beat: New Building Report

  1. Elevations are on the last two pages of this file (this was preliminary approval, so final permitted designs could be slightly different or updated):

    The reason it looks like 99% of the others is that this one is a JDavis design, like 99% of the others done by JDavis that all look like the same JDavis design is repeated by JDavis time and time again to look like a JDavis design that JDavis designed.

  2. Dan & Chad,

    Sounds like you guys are big fans of JDavis’ work!

    I thought I had included them in this writeup (this is the third time I’ve written about the project, so I struggled a bit to come up with new things to write about and must’ve left that out by mistake) so I’ve updated the post.

    I wouldn’t really blame JDavis though; it’s safe, easier to build and it’s what their clients want. I doubt anyone who put in the time and effort required to work as an architect wants to be creating stuff like this, it’s just what the job requires.

    Or maybe I’m wrong and most people love this kind of stuff and we’re just the odd ones out. Who knows?


  3. So, you mention “not necessarily built to last”… what is the end game with that? Are all of these “not necessarily built to last” apartments going to be torn down and replaced later? They are going to spend millions now just to sell down the road and be replaced again? I don’t understand this logic at all!

  4. Hi Ed,

    Thanks for reading! Let me adjust my tinfoil before responding. I want to emphasize – this is pure speculation.

    First though: It’s easier, cheaper & faster to build these lousy stick-frame buildings. Hard to dispute that.

    But if they’re not going to last, what’s the point – that seems to be the gist of your question. By the time these buildings are falling apart, the original developer & investors will more than made back their initial investment. And my guess is the property will have changed hands a few times as well. Eventually someone new will come in, tear it down and build something new on the land (which will likely have increased significantly in value). They’ll be able to charge higher rents than whatever fire-sale prices the units at the old building are going for at that point.

    From an economic standpoint, this makes sense to me, and it will of course create jobs, always a good thing. But is that the only point of building something? To make a big profit and move on? Or should we be aspiring to something better? I’d argue the latter, but obviously the people making these kind of decisions are generally smarter, wealthier and more knowledgeable about the industry than I am.