Developer drops planned Hillsborough St. building to five stories

Developer scales down plans for new building on Hillsborough Street

ccampbell@newsobserver.comJanuary 16, 2013 

— Bowing to opposition from neighbors and several Raleigh City Council members, the developer of a controversial apartment project on Hillsborough Street agreed Tuesday to reduce its design from seven to five stories.

Val Valentine’s Stanhope Center is planned for Hillsborough and Concord streets, near N.C. State University. The block has been largely unchanged as other sections of the street saw a remake in recent years. Neighbors said the original Stanhope plans were too tall for a street-front building.

However, under the new plan, the building’s actual height won’t change – it will still be 79 feet, similar to several surrounding structures. With some details unclear, the City Council didn’t vote on the project Tuesday, agreeing to give Valentine’s firm until Thursday to submit an updated plan showing how the five stories will work.

The council will review and vote on the changes at its next meeting Feb. 5.

“I think we’re in agreement on the number of feet,” Robin Currin, an attorney for Valentine, told the city council. “We were fighting about how many internal stories were in there.”

The seven-story plan was voted down last week by the council’s three-member Comprehensive Planning Committee. They cited the precedent that seven floors would create for future projects on Hillsborough Street – a concern many neighbors had during a public hearing.

“The next buildings that come along, they’re going to say, ‘Look, there’s a seven-story building,’ ” said Donna Bailey, who lives in the nearby University Park neighborhood.

Bailey also pointed to the city’s recent comprehensive plan for development, which caps building height in the area at five floors. “Please support your comprehensive plan,” she said. “They’ve spent a lot of time and money.”

The area around N.C. State has plenty of tall buildings, but none is directly on Hillsborough Street. Neighbors have said high-rise buildings there could make Hillsborough Street feel like the Grand Canyon.

Currin said last week that losing two floors would be too costly for Valentine, and the project needed the additional density. Valentine declined to comment about the change, referring questions to Currin. She could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

Campbell: 919-829-4802 or twitter.com/RaleighReporter

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