Real Deals

Raleigh historic home to be moved to make way for apartments

dbracken@newsobserver.comSeptember 21, 2012 


As a real estate investor, Charles William Gaddy was known for identifying and scooping up Raleigh properties long before others realized the true potential of the land.

Although Gaddy, a former Raleigh city councilman, died in 2005 at the age of 75, he continues to burnish his reputation.

Among the land Gaddy owned at the time of his death was nearly 30 acres just inside the Beltline on the west side of Wake Forest Road. The land, now owned by a family trust, has remained undeveloped since Gaddy bought it in 1972. The only structure on it is the Crabtree Jones House, a local and National Historic Landmark that was built in the 1790s by Nathaniel “Crabtree” Jones.

Now a Greenville, S.C., developer is proposing to relocate the house and build a 243-unit apartment complex on nearly 15 acres. The project, to be called the Jones Grant Apartments, would be the third new apartment complex proposed within about a mile-and-a-half radius.

Davis Property Group has been working on and off on the project for about four years and now has the land under contract, owner Russ Davis said. It would be Davis Property Group’s first project in Raleigh, though it fits the company’s profile of focusing on developing urban sites that pose challenges that may have turned off larger players.

The zoning on the Gaddy land includes several restrictions designed to protect the adjacent neighborhood of single-family homes, including buffer requirements and height restrictions that would limit the Jones Grant buildings to five stories. (The other 15 acres that the Gaddy family trust owns in the area has a restrictive deed prohibiting multifamily developments.)

Davis Property Group is seeking to include about 20 more units than the current zoning allows for, which means the project will go before the city’s Planning Commission for approval later this year. The city also wants to connect Hines Drive with Wake Towne Drive, something that Davis said the surrounding homeowners oppose.

“Our plan works either way,” he said. “We submitted it as though it’s not going through, and the city has rejected that and commented that we have to change it.”

Davis, 52, worked for Trammell Crow Residential for many years before starting his own company in 1998 with his boss, Ron Terwilliger, a former chairman of the Urban Land Institute and CEO of Trammell Crow Residential.

The company has built a number of student housing projects around the country and several apartment complexes in Greenville. Terwilliger is no longer a partner in the business but acts as an investor on some deals, Davis said.

Davis hopes to start the Jones Grant project in the second quarter of next year.

Although most people point to Raleigh’s Brier Creek area as a market that could soon have an oversupply of apartments, the area around North Hills could soon have more than a thousand new units.

Georgia-based Davis Development plans to begin construction in December on The Avenues, a 297-unit project off Atlantic Avenue at Six Forks. Kane Realty, meanwhile, has begun construction on a 420-unit project that will replace the Lantern Square apartments in the Ramblewood residential project just south of North Hills. Kane also is planning a second apartment project along St. Albans Drive in North Hills East that is likely to move forward early next year.

Davis says the Jones Grant site won’t require a parking deck, which will significantly reduce the project’s cost and make it possible to offer more affordable rents.

“While there is other stuff in that general submarket, we think we’re able to bring that to market at prices that are much more reasonable than, say, stuff down the road at North Hills,” he said.

He also thinks the location – across from the Holly Park Shopping Center and just down the road from Duke Raleigh Hospital – will be attractive to young professionals.

As for the Crabtree Jones House, Davis Property Group has been working with local preservationists and expects to find a suitable home for the property, a plantation house that features Flemish bond chimneys and molded weatherboards. Davis said the company will pay the cost of moving and provide some capital to restore the house.

“We’re not going to tear it down,” he said.

News researcher Brooke Cain contributed.

Bracken: 919-829-4548

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