Development Beat: New Building Report

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JDavis Architects

Another rendering of 2600 Glenwood

Brought to you by Rufty-Peedin Design Build

Monday, May 2, 2016

Just three months after the demolition and site work began for the new 2600 Glenwood luxury apartments, permits have been issued for vertical construction on the development.

The former site of the Glenwood Gardens Apartments

James Borden / Raleigh Public Record

The former site of the Glenwood Gardens Apartments

On April 29, permits were issued to Clancy & Theys, which also handled the demolition & site work, for the following: a two-story, 113,931 square-foot parking garage, a five-story, 104,737 square-foot 75-unit apartment building and a final permit that covered both a five-story, 111 unit building along with a pool, clubhouse and office building.

2600 is being developed by Grubb Ventures, which purchased the property in 2012. At the time, it was home to the Glenwood Gardens apartments, built in 1953. Glenwood Gardens is one of many relatively affordable multifamily complexes to have been torn down in the last year. When we ran an analysis last year, we found that a total of five older, affordable complexes had been demolished between November 2013-November 2014.

The Glenwood Gardens Apartments

James Borden / Raleigh Public Record

The Glenwood Gardens Apartments

And as we discovered last week, it’s much easier to tear down affordable apartments than get them built. I love reading the comments sections on news articles, but we don’t tend to get a lot of them, especially not the kind of combative ones that piece drew, so it was kind of exciting.

So back to this luxury apartment complex. Like many of its ilk in Raleigh, it was designed by JDavis Architects. Speaking of comments, the last time we wrote about this project a few of our readers chimed in with some…constructive criticisms on the company’s work.

I responded then with something I still believe true: that the critique of JDavis was likely misplaced. Anything they design is at the behest of their clients. And boring, bland “upscale” apartment complexes are cheaper and easier to build when they have the sort of uniform design JDavis often provides.

Besides, JDavis was behind Charter Square, a lovely office building that opened on Fayetteville Street last year.

Charter Square's glass windows do not absorb heat, making it much easier to cool and light the building

James Borden

Charter Square’s glass windows do not absorb heat, making it much easier to cool and light the building

When we covered 2600 back in February, we didn’t have anything beyond the site and elevation plans to give us an idea of what the place would look like, which made the judgment of JDavis’ work all that much harsher.

Well, the renderings have since been published by none other than the architects themselves, so we can now share them here. While the design of this place certainly doesn’t do much to inspire or excite, if you want to be mad at someone, be mad at Gordon Grubb, who’s developing this place.

A rendering of 2600 Glenwood

JDavis Architects

A rendering of 2600 Glenwood

Better yet: be mad at the kind of people who pay top dollar to live in these sort of places. Or maybe, look deep within yourself, and try to understand why you’re mad that these awful brick and cream apartment complexes keep getting built. Sure, they’re ugly, they’re tacky and they’re destroying the unique visual landscape of the city, but at the end of the day, what’s it to you?

Now let’s¬†take a look at a few more details about the complex, then see how JDavis’ described the project.

According to site plans filed with the City last year, the complex would have 10 studio units, 75 one-bedrooms, 82 two-bedrooms and 24 three-bedroom units. I shudder to think at how much those studios will rent for.

The site will have 8,958 square-feet of landscaped open space, and include exterior bike racks and a transit shelter. Because I’m sure the kind of people who can afford to live at this place are taking the bus.

There weren’t a whole lot of interesting details on the site plans, because, let’s be honest, this isn’t a terribly interesting project.

Here’s how the complex is described on the JDavis website:

“The gated community is set to have a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units along with property amenities such as a resort-style pool, three residential clubrooms and a terrace overlooking the Carolina Country Club golf course.”

Another rendering of 2600 Glenwood

JDavis Architects

Another rendering of 2600 Glenwood

As if “luxury” apartment complexes like this weren’t obnoxious enough, this place had to make itself a gated community. Got to make sure none of the rabble hanging out at the Carolina Country club accidentally wanders over and starts trashing the place, I guess.

2600 Glenwood is expected to be open for business in the summer of 2017.

11 thoughts on “Development Beat: New Building Report

  1. James, I agree with you about how boring and obnoxious this building will likely be, but the transit shelter is a great improvement for that section of Glenwood. Residents of 2600 may not take the bus, but some of their housekeepers and nannies might appreciate shelter while waiting for the ride home.
    There’s also a small shopping center across Glenwood and not every employee may have a car. Two bus lines serve Crabtree Mall, so it’s a useful transfer point further up Glenwood.
    One of the unsung benefits of covered bus shelters is that, even empty, they are a constant reminder, for those of us able to afford cars and healthy enough to drive, that not everyone is so lucky.

  2. Supply and demand. The location calls for a new upscale choice, and as other product ages, it will offer options to prior tenants. Security is now welcome everywhere – the neighboring properties are not likely to be the problem, it is random criminals that find easy paths to commit crimes that are a concern. The complex will succeed or not based on demand and provide a legacy development to enhance the neighborhood long-term.

  3. While there are benefits from this new development, there is also a loss. Cities are vibrant because of the mix of people that inhabit them. When only the well-to-do can live in them they loose their color. We need to remember many people contribute to society and yet don’t make a lot of money. This is why affordable housing is so important.

  4. James, Your article was littered with words like boring, bland, ugly, tacky, obnoxious…come on and tell us how you really feel! While I share your concern about the loss of affordable housing, the fact of the matter is most buildings have a finite useful life and ones in attractive locations may have a shorter economic life. I am not sure who would agree with your assessment that the old Glenwood Gardens property qualifies as a “a unique visual landscape”. Personally I think it is great that people are interested in investing significant resources to renovate the housing stock of central Raleigh and that even more people are interested in living here. I agree 100% that the transit features of the new complex are a plus, both for the residents and the nearby community.

  5. Dear James, This is the first column I have read written by you so I don’t know your writing style. Are you deliberating trying to piss off people so they will comment on your article? Does the number of comments earn you something? If the photo posted of yourself is current, then you look like you fall within the ‘millennial’ age group and if you bothered to do some research you will find that millennials are the largest demographic residing in apartments for a plethora of reasons. The second largest demographic are retired people who no longer want to take care of a large home and yard. And each of these groups can afford the rents of these luxury apartments. As downtown Raleigh attracts more companies like Citrix and Red Hat and a whole slew of start up companies, these entrepreneurs and ‘techies’ want convenience as well as public transportation to commute. They will be some of the people using the bus shelters while waiting for their bus to work. And in case you haven’t notices there is an insurgence of people commuting to work via bicycles in downtown Raleigh. Many of the new luxury condos in downtown Raleigh offer bike garages and care centers to store and maintain their major mode of transportation. Sure, they can afford a car and many might also own cars but it’s ridiculous to drive to work when it’s only a few blocks or miles away.

  6. Wow, lots of good comments to respond to! Thanks!

    EMK, that’s a good point related to the bus shelter I hadn’t thought of. As someone who’s used public transit, the few and far between bus shelters were always a relief to come across. You’re also exactly right how they can remind us how fortunate we are. Commuting by bus is a difficult, time-consuming and oft-frustrating experience.

    DCT – you’re exactly right that this is what the market demands, I tried to get at that a little bit in my post. And yes, I’ve heard that a lot of neighborhood theft/vandalism problems in Raleigh are the result of a group of outsiders finding their way into the area and causing problems. Hopefully the future residents of 2600 won’t have to deal too much with this, and I imagine the gate will help a lot.

    Timothy – couldn’t agree more. One of the takeaways I had from reading the excellent book “The Death and Life of American Cities” is that the best neighborhoods and communities form organically, and are often made up of the poor and working class. Even people who like this place would have to admit, the experience of living there and whatever sense of community they might have likely wouldn’t be that different from living in one of the millions exactly like it spread around the country.

    Rob – Ha! Good point. I had to go back and re-read because I didn’t remember being that harsh. Although in my defense, the “ugly” and “tacky” descriptions were directed towards people (like me) who don’t like this complex and asking “Why do you feel this way.” Opinions on things like whether this is ugly or tacky are so subjective I was just carrying any dislike for this one to the extreme, if that makes sense. But you’re absolutely right that it’s great to see people investing in the city.

    DTR Fan – thanks for stopping by, and sorry the first column you read was such a critical one! I don’t like the idea of trolling people into commenting by writing extreme statements; to be honest, I would assume most of the people who read this site would be *less* likely to become engaged if the negativity in this article was found in all of our articles. As to the picture: it’s about 2 years old, I’m 33 now. Funny enough, one of the reasons I use that particular photo is that in case I write something stupid or obnoxious like I probably did above, people can look at it and think oh, well that guy’s an idiot, who cares what he has to say. I’ve been writing the Development Beat for a while now, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned: people come here for the information I provide, not the commentary I offer. The reason these aren’t written as straight news pieces is because the source material itself is often so dry that I try to make it a little more interesting.

    As to the rest of your comments: I honestly didn’t even know I qualified as a millennial until I looked it up just now, so thanks for ruining my day. As it happens, I do live in a rental unit not far from downtown, albeit one that probably runs at about a half or the third of what places like 2600 Glenwood would charge. And yes, there are a lot of young, wealthy people moving into the city due to the influx of tech sector jobs, and many of them cannot find available housing stock, so whether they prefer apartments or not, they don’t have much of a choice. But while these places are great for tech workers and high-income earners, the per capita income in Raleigh is $32,000. Housing is generally considered affordable when one is spending only 30 percent of their income on it. So someone making $32k/year would want to spend about $9600 per annum on housing costs. I highly, highly doubt 2600 or any of the other similar complexes that litter (commenter Rob, you got that word stuck in my head!) the city can be rented out for $9600 or less a year. Nor they should be, market demands being what they are.

    Also, minor point, but as to its future residents commuting via bus: *if* they work downtown, they would still have to cross over Glenwood Avenue to catch a bus going in the right direction. Not a big deal, but, those folks won’t be getting much use out of the shelter. Thankfully, there’s one across the street, but still.

    And if the people living there don’t work downtown but still want to take public transit (meaning they’ll probably have to make a few transfers): if you are making a minimum of (let’s assume) $50-$60k a year, do you really want to turn your say, 30 minute commute, into one that takes an hour and a half, two hours, maybe more? Plus, if you have an electric car or a hybrid, your per-day costs would probably be lower if you drove than if you took the bus, not taking future maintenance into account.

    One last thing, and then I’ll shut up: I commuted via bus from my residence off Capital Boulevard near 440. It took me about 20-30 minutes to drive to my office in Cary. When I took public transit, I had to leave the house by 5 or 530 just to make sure I caught the right bus(es) I needed to get me to Cary by 8am.

  7. Your right. New Raleigh is a bland mid-western suburban rubber stamp of the design aesthetics of 1980s Atlanta.

  8. Given that America is a democratic and capitalist society (at least for now), my recommendation is that all who criticize this project and other projects as “Sure, they’re ugly, they’re tacky and they’re destroying the unique visual landscape of the city” pool their savings, personally guarantee a construction loan and build the kind of building they believe is beautiful. Don’t forget that Planning & Zoning will weigh in with their subjective opinions as to what constitutes “beautiful”. As they say, “The water’s fine. Jump in the pool.”

  9. Your suggestion to “be mad at Gordon Grubb” is uncalled-for and just wrong.

    Mr. Grubb is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet and is simply helping meet the needs of the marketplace.

  10. Mr. Hargett,

    I apologize, but the suggestion that people be mad at Mr. Grubb was intended as a joke; it’s why I said in the next paragraph that if people should engage in some self-reflection instead of being mad at all.



  11. Thanks for the article. I think you did a good job riding the line between saying that it stinks that this is not a “cultural institution” in the making, but also pointing out that people build what people want to buy. No one should be angry at you.

    How much money would we need to pool in order to build a Richardson Romanesque apartment somewhere in or near downtown? Also, how hard would that be to get zoned? I would also settle for a new version of this thing

    I audible’ed the Jane Jacobs book after reading this. About halfway through and really enjoying it. I can see how it would be hard to be a fan of hers while making your living building apartments for what people want (and will pay good money for). I live and work downtown and something I noticed lately is that there are almost no townhome streets in Downtown Raleigh. When I listen to Jacobs description of neighborhoods that are vibrant I think of streets of townhomes with bodega’s(spl?) and local shops. All the townhomes in Raleigh are out of the way from stuff in residential areas. Why doesn’t a street of them happen near downtown? I guess I will count the stuff they put in next to Crisspy Cream as pretty much this. But, still it seems to be either Towers, Apartment Complexes, or Houses. What is up with that?