Development Beat: Teardown Tuesday

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Regular readers of this column may recall that it’s been quite a while since we’ve had an actual demolition project to dig into, so even though all we’ve got is a tiny little $5,000 teardown, it’s better than nothing.

Funny enough, the project is for a concrete plant located just behind that new modernist house on Wade Avenue that we ran pictures of just last week.

This modernist single-family home is getting built right next to the bridge at Wade and West

James Borden / Raleigh Public Record

This modernist single-family home is getting built right next to the bridge at Wade and West

Notice the concrete plant in the background? One Twitter user certainly did:

What’s kind of fortuitous about work being done at the plant itself is that when I went to take pictures of the Wade Avenue house, I had to park down on West Street across from Thomas Concrete. Getting in and out of that house is going to be a nightmare.

So while I was out there I figured, might as well get a few shots of the concrete plant, just in case the company or work at this plant ever comes up. This isn’t the first time I’ve done that; it’s just usually that I lose track of the pictures by the time I actually have a story where I need them.

The Thomas Concrete plant on West Street

James Borden / Raleigh Public Record

The Thomas Concrete plant on West Street

Not this time though. Of course, I have no idea if the soon-to-be demo’d building even appears in any of the shots I took, but it doesn’t really matter. You get the idea. This looks like the kind of property that has a an old little industrial building on it just begging to be torn down.

IQ Contracting will have the honor of doing so, although for a measly $5K, we’re not sure how much of an honor it really is. Fortunately, they’re also getting paid $35K to install two new “screen walls” at the plant.

Not sure what exactly screen walls are, but with a name like IQ Contracting, I figured there would be at least one person over there smart enough to know and be able to explain to me. I reached out and left a voicemail; if you’re reading this, they didn’t get back to me. Them’s the breaks.

The Thomas Concrete Company has owned the land on which the plant sits since 1979, when it purchased it from another company by the name of Carolina Ready Mix. We assume that’s another concrete company. Thomas Concrete actually has plants in Knightdale in Morrisville as well.

The plant on West Street, or at least the main warehouse there, was apparently built in 1970. Tragically, we weren’t able to find much more about its history beyond that, but we did find out that the land used to be in the hands of one Rudolph Turk.

Rudolph was apparently the only son born to William A. Turk & Mary Willis Mordecai, a Southern Railway executive. His only sibling was Margaret Turk who married Gavin Hogg Dortch — the old deeds for the property describe it as being owned by Turk & Dortch.

Here’s a few interesting bits from his bio:

  • Rudolph grew up in the family home “Mordecai Manor” in Raleigh, built by his grandfather, Moses Mordecai, and in which his mother was raised and married in.
  • Rudolph graduated North Carolina State University, but by most accounts, never labored at any job. He was independently wealthy and heir to fortunes on both sides of his family tree, and spent some of his money indulging his interests in birds and architecture.
  • About 1933, the then 43-year old bachelor, commissioned an “urban estate” to be built on St. Albans Drive in Raleigh, later called “Birdwood”. Note: thank you to reader Chuck for sharing this link to a story about Birdwood!

So yeah, the guy was probably a bit of a loon. It’s a good thing the property on West Street ended up in the hands of a productive concrete manufacturer, although as someone with an interest in architecture, Rudolph would probably have either loved or hated that new house getting built on Wade.

Anyway, one last thing about the Thomas Concrete plant so that I can tell myself I didn’t spend the entire second half of today’s piece talking about Rudolph Turk: it was apparently in the Gold category for the 2015 “Excellence in Safety Award Recipients” issued by the National Ready Mix Concrete Association. Awesome!!

The Thomas Concrete plant on West Street

James Borden / Raleigh Public Record

The Thomas Concrete plant on West Street is apparently a safe place to work

8 thoughts on “Development Beat: Teardown Tuesday

  1. So there is a house currently on st albans that is probably the “Birdwood” you speak of. There, Boom! another terrific tuesday column.

  2. Chuck,

    Great find about Birdwood!! I was kind of curious about the place but today’s column was already running long and I figured it would take me a while to find anything. Glad I was wrong. I’ll update the post with a link.

    Glad you like the Terrific Tuesday format! I do really enjoy the whole research process for those, especially on the rare occasions when I can make it out to one of the NC State libraries.

    Thanks again,


  3. I really enjoy your columns, you do a great job of illuminating the curious corners of Raleigh real estate and commercial enterprise. Do you know what’s up with the Hillsborough Street Lofts project across from NCSU? That big ‘ol crane is costing somebody a lot of money to do nothing for the past year?

  4. Hi Tony,

    I think that description gives me way more credit than I’m due, but I appreciate it!

    As for that Hillsborough Street project: I actually get asked this a lot; I’d write a post on it but I haven’t had any luck reaching the people directly involved so all I have are rumors. Solid enough that I’ll sign my name to them in a comment, but not enough to base a whole column on.

    Apparently the architect, developer and contractor have had some differences over how to best proceed with the work on this job. One source told me they had heard the contractor will be replaced, but understand that information is second/third-hand. But you’re right about having that giant crane on site: I heard it’s quite expensive, in the neighborhood of $30K/month. Ouch!


  5. Tony,

    Great idea, haha. I would actually sign up for that, although I imagine if they wanted to recoup costs, tickets would be pretty steep!