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Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Two Raleigh homes with a combined age of 180 will soon be no more, thanks a pair of $8,000 demolition permits issued last week to Five Horizons Development.
In an effort to find out what be coming next for these soon-to-be-vacant downtown lots, we reached out to Stuart Cullinan, president of Five Horizons Development.
“310 N. State has been on the public nuisance watch long before we got involved,” Cullinan said.
“We determined the house was beyond salvage and pulled a demo permit as part of responding to the long list of defaults pointed out by the inspectors. We are not yet decided on what to do with the site, but are working on a plan.”
Fact check: True! The only reference to 310 we had been able to find in any official city documentation was a resolution from a March 2015 City Council meeting where the owners were fined $253 for the abatement of a public nuisance.
Interestingly enough, the property is still owned by the Goodson family, the same owners who were fined for the nuisance violation back in 2015. We imagine Cullinan is in negotiations with them; he didn’t mention it, and we were too stupid to ask in time for publication.
The home at 310 North State Street was first built in 1920 and appears to have been in the Goodson family since 1971. The initial owners were the Jones family, and we couldn’t decide whether to make a “Keeping up with the Joneses” joke or throw out a reference to one of the Indiana Jones movies. Torn between the two, we ultimately decided to follow the sage and timeless advice of Henry Jones, Sr., and just let it go.
Much like the fabled Holy Grail of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” fame, we hate to see any cherished piece of Raleigh history lost to the sands of time. Fortunately, we’re pretty sure 310 N. State Street is neither cherished nor a significant piece of Raleigh history.
Some quick stats on the home, before Wake County purges the data following its demolition:
310 N. State Street was built in 1920, about 16 years after the property was acquired by Willie & Mariah Jones. The one-story, one-bathroom structure had no heating or air conditioning, and clocked in at an underwhelming 732 square feet.
As for 309 N. State Street, Cullinan had this to say: “This house was built poorly and is at the end of its useful life. We figured it would make sense to tear down both at the same time. Again, not quite sure on the final plan, but these two should come down in the next 2-6 months.”
Built in 1932, this one-story conventional-style home was slightly larger than its neighbor at 1,032 square feet, and offered its tenants central heating and air. Based on present-day and archival photos of the place, we’re inclined to agree with Cullinan’s assessment that the place was not very well-built, but we are impressed it managed to last this long.
Although Cullinan doesn’t have solid plans for either site yet, we imagine whatever he comes up with will not only be a significant improvement over what stands there today (a pretty low bar) but will also be a welcome addition to the neighborhood and offer future owners wonderful yet affordable places to live.
Longtime readers may remember Five Horizons as the developer behind a new residential project in Mordecai and a condominium/townhome development on New Bern Avenue.
We’ve actually run into Cullinan at a number of public meetings related to different projects he’s developing around the city, and had the chance to speak with him on many of those occasions. He’s that rare residential developer who cares about quality over quantity, someone who wants to create unique, affordable properties that enhance the texture and aesthetic of the neighborhoods in which they’re being developed.
Reflecting on our past conversations with Cullinan, and considering the fact that Thanksgiving is a mere two days away, we thought it might be neat to throw together a quick list of five local builders/developers that Raleigh residents should all be thankful for.
Sure, it’s easy to complain about a lot of the tacky developments cropping up around the city (see: Glenwood South, Cameron Village) but figured it would be a lot more fun to instead highlight some of the people behind the sort of developments we’d like to see more of here in the City of Oaks. We came up with the five companies below more or less off the top of our heads: there’s a lot more we know we left out, so please feel free to mention them below in the comments section.
List order randomized c/o Random.org.
James A. Goodnight: The son of SAS Institute founder and CEO Jim Goodnight, James not only has a great first (and last, we guess) name, but also a great love of Raleigh’s historic architecture, which he has worked tirelessly to restore, upgrade and preserve. We’ve never had occasion to meet him, but we know our friends over at Preservation North Carolina think the world of him. One of his most prominent and widely beloved projects was the renewal of an aged, dilapidated, turn-of-the-century structure at the corner of Hargett and Salisbury streets into the newest Ashley Christensen joint “Death and Taxes.” We’re not sure if Goodnight’s work could be classified as “noblesse oblige,” but we imagine residents of this great city will be forever thankful for his efforts.
Quality Builders of Raleigh: By far the oldest firm on our list — they were founded in 1973 — Quality Builders has been doing, well, quality work in Raleigh for longer than I’ve been alive. A search of the City’s permit database reveals nearly 100 projects from the past 16 years alone: among our favorites are the now-defunct Tiger Direct at the Capital Crossing shopping center (once our favorite store in Raleigh, now tragically replaced with IBeauty), extensive renovations to the historic downtown Briggs Building at 220 Fayetteville, and a $20,000 project at 5412 Etta Burke Court that had the wonderful work description of “Conversion of Pet Shop to a Church.” The construction industry is a notoriously difficult business to succeed in; even tougher is staying in business for as long as Quality has. Residents and businesses alike should be thankful they’ve chosen to call Raleigh home for all this time.
Rufty-Peedin Design Builders: Big surprise right? If you thought R-P DB wasn’t getting included, you haven’t been paying attention. Even if they weren’t our loyal sponsor, their transformation of the old Hillsborough Street Bookstore into the magnificent H-Street Kitchen alone is enough to earn them a spot here, although we might have deducted some points for all the projects they’ve been building out in Cary. In all seriousness, this is a great local firm with a philosophy grounded in client satisfaction, teamwork, respect and integrity. We’ve had the good fortune of seeing these tenets in action every time we’ve dealt with them, and we imagine their long list of clients is just as thankful for their work as we are.
- August Construction Solutions: Founded just three years ago by Mike Iovino, this firm has experienced such tremendous success in those 36 months that it made this year’s TBJ Fast 50 list, no small achievement. While the bulk of their work involves building out upscale national retail chains throughout the country, ACS’ metamorphosis of North West Street over the past year — we actually reported on their renovation of the old Peace Lighting shop just before Thanksgiving of last year — is an incredible breath of fresh air to this severely underutilized section of the city. Specifically, we imagine Raleigh residents for years to come will be thankful to August for the spectacular Raleigh Bicycle mural on the side of their new offices at 707 N. West Street, which has the added bonus of being in the foreground of one of the best skyline views in the entire city.
Five Horizons Development: The company that inspired this list is also the only one that specializes exclusively in residential development. We already spent some time flattering them above, but considering the sad state of most new residential building projects — not just here in Raleigh, but nationwide — be it tacky, shoddily built McMansions or even tackier, even shoddier-built generic apartment complexes, we think the work done by Five Horizons is really worth taking note of. There’s few material things people should be more thankful for than a beautiful, well-built place to call home, and Five Horizons delivers that in spades. Beyond just the quality of Five Horizons’ work, the fact that Cullinan willingly and eagerly engages the neighborhoods in which he plans to build, to a degree far beyond what’s required, has always impressed us.
That about wraps it up for us; like we said, there’s a lot of companies that didn’t make this list that probably should have, and we hope that you’re able to take a second to mention them in the comments section.
Although we were planning to write up another column for tomorrow, today’s Thanksgiving theme seems like a good place to leave off until we return in December. That being said, we might change our minds: there’s two very interesting articles we’re working on, and we might not want to wait a whole week-and-a-half to publish them. But either way, we hope you enjoy this Thursday as much as we’ll enjoy ours, although it’s pretty tough to beat a Borden-Perry Thanksgiving in Turnersville, NJ.