Back with the news!!!
July 27, 2009

Project Updates
More than 13 months ago we looked, with great excitement, into five excellent projects: The Edison, Charter Square, Clarence Lightner Public Safety Center, Wake County Justice Center and Powerhouse Plaza. To this day, no cranes exist on any of those sites, and the current lending crisis has certainly delayed any progress, except for one of them: Wake County Justice Center.

With The Hillsborough and Lafayette now completely out of the picture, one may wonder what will be the next move for developers who "dare to think big". So, what is the status now? Charter Square developers (Craig Davis Properties, White Oak Properties, East-West Partners and Beacon Street Development), according to a News & Observer article titled Council amends project agreement, have requested an extension, due to lending issues, a very common problem these days. In a nutshell:

  • Construction does not have to begin at least 10 months after the completion of the parking deck.
  • Construction has to begin 5 years after the purchase of the land.
  • Unlike Lafayette and The Hillsborough, the developers of Charter Square have purchased the land and built an underground parking deck.
  • The nature and size of the towers may change; a hotel component has been added to the accepted uses.
  • The value of the completed project should not be less than $100 million.
  • At least 50,000sf of retail/commercial space should be built on the ground floor(s).
The Edison, which is currently the largest project ever to be envisioned for Raleigh, has also been delayed, but the bidding process for construction has begun and the groundbreaking is envisioned for early 2011. Clarence Lightner Public Safety Center has progressed in terms of the final design, but no groundbreaking date has been mentioned yet. It is more like "wait and see" - if the economy allows, it will break ground. Last, but not least, the office space for the Powerhouse Plaza project is available for pre-leasing, and we should see some movement once tenants have been secured.

One Glenwood & NC SECU Building
A major surprise came from an early - some may say pre-mature - release of the renderings for One Glenwood. The architectural firm has since pulled out the project's information from their website and I will respect their request for no further leaking of the images, but I must admit, I was plesantly surprised with what I saw. A truly great design that will stand out and make some impact. If built as envisioned, it will add height and class to our skyline. I am looking forward to the official release of the renderings, so I can share them with you. For those unfamiliar with the location, One Glenwood is planned for the SW corner of Hillsborough Str and Glenwood Ave and will occupy half of that block.

On the other hand, we had the final proposal for NC SECU's new 240,000sf, 12-story building, which will be built next to Green Square, at the SW corner of Salisbury and Jones Streets. This midrise will include speculative office space, some hospitality suites at the upper floors and a ground-level NC SECU branch. Groundbreaking is scheduled for some time this Fall.


Image is courtesy of N.C. State Employees' Credit Union.

Another hotel proposed for Glenwood South
After the Hyatt Place - part of the Powerhouse Plaza project - another hotel has been proposed for the booming Glenwood South district. I first read about it at Dana McCall's excellent and informative GoGoRaleigh blog, as well as the Board of Adjustments' meeting minutes. In a recent article, the News & Observer also mentioned this project, with more details, and Dana updated his blog, too. In brief, Glenwood South Hospitality LLC (the developer) proposes a 7-story/79ft tall building carrying the Hampton Inn brand. Parking spaces have been negotiated with the owners of the 510 Glenwood parking deck, across from the proposed hotel, so additional parking will not be necessary.

Durham is on the rise!!!
It is about time the city of Durham "grows up". I do not mean in terms of maturity, but rather growing taller. After the disappointing, in my opinion, news - Greenfire plan wins a 'yes' and Greenfire asks city for more incentives - related to Greenfire Development's otherwise excellent vision, it is a breath of fresh air to see another major Durham player stepping in.

According to the News & Observer's article, titled Big construction in the Bull City Scientific Properties has created a vision for a project called Van Alen, which will feature 1.86 million square feet of office/residential/retail/hotel space and parking decks on the former Elkins Chrysler-Mitsubishi dealership. Van Alen will be built across from DPAC (Durham Performing Arts Center) and Durham Bulls Athletic Park, at a 6-acre parcel bounded by Roxboro, Mangum and Dillard Streets. The developers want to complete their vision within the next four years, but all depends on the economy. It is worth noting that of the two office buildings featured in this project, one of them may stand 25 floors tall and could become the new tallest building for Durham. In addition to the office space, 200 condos and 200 hotel rooms are also envisioned, but will be built at the final stages of the project.


Image is courtesy of DUB Studios and the News & Observer

According to the designer's website, Van Alen will be subdivided in three blocks: Block A (residential, hotel, retail), Block B (office, retail) and Block C (office, parking decks). The breakdown of the uses will be the following:

  • 510,000sf of office space
  • 204,000sf of condos
  • 166,000sf of hotel space
  • 47,000sf of retail
This vision is, without a doubt, a major step forward for DT Durham, and we can only wish the developers the best of luck. Personally, I have been waiting inpatiently for Durham's center to get projects like Van Alen, and I also wish the same for Raleigh ;)

Let me be fair with Greenfire Development
In the previous section I mentioned Greenfire Development, a company that caught us by surprise with their great vision for DT Durham and their road map to revitalizing the Bull City's core with a lot of major renovations and new projects.

To my surprise, Greenfire scaled down significantly from their original vision for a new tallest high-rise (for Durham) to a 9-story midrise. This building will be built at the former Woolworth site, at Corcoran, Parrish and Main Streets. For more information and renderings, I recommend that you read Greenfire reveals drastically different design for Woolworth site at Corcoran/Parrish/Main, an excellent report on the new version. I only want to say that the vision is nice, but I felt disappointed because I was hoping for something taller/bigger.

Also, I was a bit puzzled with the request by Greenfire Development to receive more incentives - from $1.1 million to $2.2 million - before converting the SunTrust Building into hotel rooms and condos. For the record, the city of Durham agreed to pay Greenfire $20 million in incentives, in order for the developers to revitalize the 19 properties they own inside the Downtown Loop, a $284-million renovation plan. By no means this is a cheap shot against Greenfire Development, but with the current economy we need to take in consideration the present and future needs of the City of Durham, as well. Doubling incentives is not exactly the best way to inspire confidence in the developer's ability to deliver.

Durham County Justice Building
Since we are in Durham, let's talk about another project that is not discussed as much and it is planned for the site across from Van Alen. Durham County is planning on building a new 11-story/298,500sf courthouse and an adjacent 900-car parking deck. The completion dates for both structures are 2012 and 2011, respectively. The new Justice Building will be located adjacent to, and south of the existing Durham County Detention Center. When it opens, the new Justice Building will offer 16 courtrooms, but it will be designed with the capacity to reach 24 courtrooms in the future. The new Durham County Justice Building is planned to receive LEED Gold certification. The cost for construction is estimated to be around $116 million.


Image is courtesy of O'Brien Atkins.

Let's hope that the momentum for DT Durham will remain strong and the Bull City - also known as City of Medicine - will continue to rise and grow. There is a great deal of redevelopment already and Durham's residents have a lot to be proud of. I am looking forward to presenting more Durham projects in the future.

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