Raleigh – September, 19 2012

September 19th, 2012

October should bring me more time to focus on Raleigh, so here are just a few photos to fill the gap between my travels. You could also check out recent St. Louis photos and coming soon to MetroScenes.com: Dublin, Ireland and Paris, France.

Spotty sunlight on PNC Plaza and Two Hannover Square
Spotty sunlight on PNC Plaza and Two Hannover Square
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New colors on the Wake County Justice Center
New colors on the Wake County Justice Center
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  1. Ernest says:

    September 21st, 2012 at 12:36 am (#)

    This collection proves that Matt doesn’t have to post over a dozen new photos to impress us. Our skyline may be small and unimpressive, but it surely looks nice from the Dorothea Dix angle (photo next to last). If we could squeeze 2-3 more towers above 400ft between the bookends, the skyline will look far more beautiful, I think. Loved the lights at the top of the new Justice Center!!! Great work, Matt…

  2. Kraycarr says:

    September 26th, 2012 at 4:43 pm (#)

    I would be nice to see a 30 to 40 story tower between the Wellsfargo and PNC building

  3. Vatnos says:

    January 2nd, 2013 at 3:45 pm (#)

    Yeah, I always mentally picture something 600ft in the block just west of 2 Hannover, and then something 800 ft in the block to the east of where Charter Square will hopefully go (the empty lots around Lincoln Theater are all great spots for a new supertall). I think those two empty blocks plus the lots in front of the PEC are ripe for new towers and they could each hold 2-3 400+ footers.

    Ugh, just seems like nothing is moving forward right now. Skyhouse may be the only thing that gets built this year, and every little bit helps, but we really should be getting more than that. Charter Square is still a big question mark, the Lightner Center seems like a non-starter.

    Raleigh has a skyline on par with Little Rock, Arkansas, a city of 150,000 and metro of 600,000. Other cities in the same size range, like Nashville and especially Canadian cities like Calgary, just completely shut us out. I suppose one thing to be grateful for is that while it’s a small skyline, it’s still very photogenic. We avoided the ugly brown box phase of the 70s. Most of the buildings that are there have pretty good and diverse architecture, and the 3 tallest buildings each have a lot of character–they look excellent at night.

    Jacksonville for instance, another metro in the same size range, looks less attractive despite being larger and denser. I don’t take the view that every tall building is a good one, and Jville has some real uglies that they’re stuck with. Nothing to envy about that.

    There is more to a city than its skyline, of course. We’re still getting dense infill development, which is arguably more important for the urban character of the city. The drive along Hillsborough or Glenwood into downtown feels much more like you’re in a major city now. Still, it’s very difficult to hold postcards of Raleigh and Charlotte side by side without cringing a bit inside and saying “well… yeah… but we’ve got better universities”.

  4. Ernest says:

    January 2nd, 2013 at 5:29 pm (#)

    Vatnos, may I join you in this dream? :LOL: DT Raleigh has a great opportunity to develop a less linear skyline, with depth and density. While this is subjective, I think that Raleigh’s skyline should have been at least double in size in order to reflect the population numbers and the city’s status as one of the best places to do business.

    The Salisbury Street and McDowell Street corridors are unique opportunities that can be easily missed if we don’t try to attract more than just a few small to medium sized businesses. It would be very hard to see buildings above 600ft – let alone 800ft – without serious commitments by major tenants. Due to the elevation, even a 500ft building would look shorter, so we need to take full advantage of the two streets I mentioned above. Maximum heights, that is. Now, Wilmington Str will remain a challenge. Since The Edison fell short of expectations – unless a miracle happens and things change the last minute – and it won’t be anywhere near the original concept, we have to focus on the few remaining parcels. That is, the one adjacent to Lincoln Theater and Site 2. As a bonus, I will also add the parcel adjacent to One Progress Plaza, which could handle a nice tower above 600ft.

    Other than that, the continuous improvements in the urban fabric of other areas near the CBD will definitely provide a good experience for most urbanity fans, enough to keep our interest high for the next few years. I feel grateful for the growth in Glenwood South and along Hillsborough Street. It won’t be long before many empty and/or underutilized lots fill up, but it will take a few more years… In the meantime, I don’t mind seeing a couple of buildings above 500ft 🙂

  5. Vatnos says:

    January 2nd, 2013 at 7:03 pm (#)

    I suspect many things will fill up before the lot next to Progress I gets utilized. That will probably end up being the last empty lot on Fayetteville Street, and it will have to be something tall to justify purchasing the steep air rights I’m sure Progress Energy has over that property.

    My hope is that… eventually… the block bound by Davie and McDowell, next to 2 Hannover, could get at least 2 highrises, one of which would be over 600 ft–something like Oklahoma City’s Devon Energy center. It would improve the skyline view from Boylan, while also covering up the wake county jail in the view from S. Saunders, and it would improve the south and north facing views by, as you said, adding density in a non-linear direction. It’s a pipe-dream though. At the rate things are moving it could be 10+ years before anything happens there. 🙁

    I did learn, interestingly enough, that Empire Properties owns the lot right next to Lincoln Theatre, so that could be a thing… potentially… in the future. Empire does quality work.

    For this year, 2013, at the very least I want to see:
    Charter Square
    Powerhouse Plaza
    …and something in Site 4 that isn’t an architectural abortion like what was last proposed

  6. Ernest says:

    January 3rd, 2013 at 12:13 am (#)

    Vatnos, I couldn’t agree more. The parcel next to One Progress Plaza may be the last to be developed, although I am not sure what will happen with the air rights, especially now that Progress Energy has almost abandoned downtown. I am not sure Red Hat will have any saying about how tall the building should be. But there are many parcels to be redeveloped before anything happens there.

    I assume that you are talking about the Enterprise rentals. Yes, that would be PERFECT for something over 600ft. I would love to see something over 700ft and an adjacent 500ft+ at that location, and quite frankly it is possible, since the convention center is right across from there; both towers could include hotel space. Naturally, nobody wants to have a view of the county jail, but if the building’s first 20-25 floors are dedicated to a parking deck and office space, the views from the hotel rooms would not be as ugly. Or, they can build an office building across from the county jail and a hotel/condo tower closer to the convention center.

    As far as activity during 2013, anything can happen, but I doubt very seriously we will see any activity at the Charter Square and Powerhouse Plaza sites 🙁 I hope to be wrong, but I am afraid this nightmare will become reality. Skyhouse is a great project and hopefully it will break ground soon. Also. I hear of increased interest by companies to move to DT Raleigh, and even though this has been the norm for years now – without result – we may hear of something good during 2013.

    Unfortunately, along with the good projects, we have two proposals that stand out as the worst deals for downtown. You mentioned both of them: The Edison (Phase One) and Site 4. I surely hope that neither one of them EVER breaks ground. I am sorry, but they are both bad projects, unworthy of any site in our city’s core. There are plenty of parcels in Glenwood South and The Warehouse District where such proposals would fit better. Although I find both designs boring and uninspiring, the size of these projects is simply an insult to those who believe in downtown, particularly the CBD and its skyline. Just when we think developers learned something from mistakes like The Hue and Palladium Plaza, they prove us wrong by proposing even worse projects. If they can’t deliver quality – and size – they should get out of downtown… Let someone else develop those parcels… Please!!!

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Raleigh – September, 19 2012

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