Development Beat: Torn-Down Tuesday

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

More than a year and a half ago, permits were issued for the demolition of a number of old, dilapidated properties along St. Mary’s Street in order to make way for the new town home development The Saint.

thesaint5

This property has long since been torn down

Last week, the only building demolition permit issued by the City of Raleigh wasn’t even a real demolition permit: it was just some technicality replacing the original demo permit issued for 220 St. Mary’s in October 2014.

A lot’s been written about The Saint (also known as 220 The Saint) over the years; we first reported on it here when those initial demolition permits came out. It looks like Leo Suarez over at The Raleigh Connoisseur was the first to break the news way back in October 2013. That’s almost three years ago!

In short, The Saint will consist of 17 luxurious townhome units, ranging in size from 2,700 to 4,700 square feet and in price from $750,000 to $1.4 million. The units will reportedly feature “elevators, rooftop gardens, two-car garages, European style kitchens and other expensive touches.”

But that information was all put out back in 2014. Since then, hardly anything’s been written about the place. In fact, Leo was behind the most recent report we could find on The Saint, when in September 2015 he posted a photo of the now-vacant lot on which those old homes sat.

220 St. Mary's Street, August 8, 2016

James Borden

220 St. Mary’s Street, August 8, 2016

It’s now August 2016; the lot is still vacant, and no permits have been issued for any work on the site. While we’re not always able to track down basic site work permits, we went out there last night and there’s nothing going on.

Souheil Al-Awar

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Souheil Al-Awar

So what’s the deal? In short: we have no idea. Sorry! We reached out to Souheil Al-Awar, who was described in a News & Observer article from 2014 as the project’s architect. On site plan filings, he is listed as a contact for the property owner/developer Modus NC Investments, the parent company for which is based out of Toronto. Al-Awar did not respond to a voicemail or an email sent to his Prodigy.com address.

North Carolina state corporation filings list an attorney’s office as the local address for Modus; a standard practice for LLCs. What’s interesting is that the Toronto address for the company’s headquarters trace back to a condominium unit in a residential building.

The aforementioned N&O article states that Al-Awar attended Ravenscroft High School and NC State in Raleigh; he is now the owner of Clockwork at 519 West North Street. In some reports on the place, Al-Awar is listed as Clockwork’s “owner/designer;” a dual role he may be taking on again with The Saint.

The Saint

The Saint

On a set of 2013 preliminary drawings for The Saint, the architect is listed as the Washington, D.C.-based firm Plan 9 Associates. Messages for Plan 9 also went unreturned.

On some of those early filings, Cary-based civil engineering firm Thompson & Associates is listed as the project consultant. A representative from Thompson & Associates told The Record that their involvement with The Saint was essentially wrapped up, as they had been brought on to do the initial site plans. They were unsure when work on the homes would start.

Al-Awar told the N&O in 2014 that six of the units had already been presold, but we were unable to find any official records of these sales. While a brief page on the website for GoDowntownRaleigh has a link to the “broker” for The Saint, the link does not go anywhere.

As the site plans for this project were long-ago approved by the City of Raleigh, we’re not exactly sure what’s behind the holdup on The Saint, although we did hear some rumors that other, unrelated issues with the City have yet to be resolved. Given the tremendous growth in condominium and apartment-style living in the area where The Saint is being planned, we believe an upscale town home development would be quite successful and would love to see construction get started.

The Saint

The Saint

3 thoughts on “Development Beat: Torn-Down Tuesday

  1. Can’t say I’m crazy about the boxy exterior craze though 😉 I’m a sucker for my traditional exteriors, like brick. Feel like they’d fit in more along that corridor, which is close to Cameron Park. Either way – it would be great to see that lot filled in with some density (albeit, $750k+ is NOT in my price range) 😉

  2. Agreed with Mary. That style wouldn’t seem to fit in along St. Mary’s Street, maybe in the Warehouse District.

  3. The style of the buildings are not that dissimilar to the St. Mary’s facing facades of The Devon 712 and St. Mary’s Square. Given that this stretch of St. Mary’s is an eclectic mix of old & new, low density & high density, commercial, institutional & residential, etc., I don’t see how its style is an issue.
    Price, on the other hand, is foolish. Given the nature of the immediate neighborhood and the fact that this stretch of St. Mary’s is highly traveled secondary road, I just don’t see people dropping $1M+ on townhomes there. If this project was on a side street to the immediate west of St. Mary’s, I can (sort of) imagine this flying. But, as it stands now, it just seems like too far of a stretch to pull the market.