In a test of how eagerly merchants will follow homebuyers to the edges of Raleigh’s downtown gentrification, a local developer is remaking a small shopping plaza near Oakwood.
The building at Brookside Drive and Glascock Street has seen 45 years worth of changes leading up to the current trend: a mix of remodeling and urban infill with half-million dollar homes going onto empty lots or replacing tear-downs.
“I think they’re following the population,” said Frank Quinn, chief broker at the Colliers International real estate office in Raleigh. “Retail has gone through a tremendous evolution since the downturn. I think it has become much more creative.
“They’re looking for a product, how to attract the customer, what’s different about the customer. I think it’s much more reactive than the strategic planning of the old-time merchandisers.”
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The latest plan for what will be called Brookside Market & Pizza is, at first blush, not that much different from what was there just a year ago: a small market with a few groceries, beer and wine, along with a pizza kitchen and bar with indoor and outdoor seating. But that’s where the similarities will end.
Attached to the market and kitchen will be several tenants who provide a telltale preview of the customers developer Duane Williams hopes to attract. So far, Williams says he’s lined up a coffee and cocktail bar from the owner of Brew, the coffee shop in nearby Seaboard Station, a Pilates studio and a retro barber shop. He also hopes to bring in a restaurant or other retail for the remaining storefront in the plaza.
Seven apartments that comprise the second floor of the building are gradually being upgraded and two are being marketed as Airbnb rentals.
Another flourish was hiring prominent Raleigh architect Louis Cherry (the N.C. State University Arboretum building and the Cameron Village Library are two of his works) to design the interior of the building and consult on the exterior. Cherry lives in the nearby modernist home that caused a fuss in Oakwood a few years back.
“We said, ‘What does this community need now?’ ” Williams said last week. “It’s different from what they needed 12 years ago. We’re trying to pay very close attention to that.”
The corner and the building that sits on it have evolved with the community, at various times holding a convenience store, a day care and a transition point for ex-convicts. Now, Williams says, people with baby strollers or dogs walk by all day long.
The building was badly damaged in a fire in 2000 and was replaced. Several attempts started and stopped for a variety of reasons over the years before it settled into a popular pizza restaurant and market over the past few years.
Quinn says the expansion into new neighborhoods is spreading out in all directions from downtown’s explosive growth.
Williams is managing partner of a limited liability company called The Boundary, which is the owner, and he is part owner of builder Williams General Contractors.
The Boundary bought the property for $2.5 million in September. Williams says he didn’t expect to take over the pizza operation until a mistake with the state alcohol permit was discovered. It turned out two different businesses were running the two operations at the same address. Only the market had an Alcoholic Beverage Commission report.
The market owner voluntarily surrendered its ABC permit in May, and so the new owners decided to renovate the building and take over its operation.
Willilams hopes to open the market before the first of October, the pizza kitchen before the end of October, and have the other tenants in by the end of the year.
Staff researcher David Raynor contributed.