The fate of an office tower expected to join downtown’s skyline hinges on the demands of a barbecue restaurant that has been a Raleigh institution for more than 75 years.
It all comes down to eight parking spots.
That’s the amount of space the owner of Clyde Cooper’s Barbecue wants from developers so catering vans have access to a parking deck on the block bounded by Blount, Davie, Wilmington and Martin streets near Moore Square.
Once a deal is reached, the city will sign off on an agreement that gives Gregg Sandreuter, the developer behind the Edison office building, daytime access to nearly 300 city-owned parking spots in the same deck.
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The deal matters not just for convenience but because it’s one of the last items to check off to ensure financing for the office building. Sandreuter is also the developer for the under-construction Edison Apartments and recently completed SkyHouse apartment tower on the same block.
He expects to break ground on the office building in October.
The Raleigh City Council approved the quirky parking agreement in early May after a committee hashed out for weeks how to accommodate Cooper’s, which is housed in the deck but has no legal claim to the spaces.
Sandreuter said he’s pleased with the outcome and expects the agreement to move forward smoothly.
“I feel great. The council and a lot of other good people helped make this a better project,” he said.
Debbie Holt, owner of Clyde Cooper’s, started her quest for a parking guarantee last year when she realized the changes on the block would limit her access to the deck as residents and office workers claimed their spaces.
The restaurant moved to its current location on Wilmington Street from a building around the corner to make way for the development. Holt assumed she always would have access to the garage – and thinks she should have been told otherwise.
“It’s just not right the way some of this was handled, but we’re all working together to try to fix it,” she said.
The deck was built as a way to spur economic development in the area. All along, the deck’s city spaces have been slated to accommodate residents and office workers. The city owns 710 of the spots, and real estate firm Highwoods owns 528.
Once the apartment construction on the block is complete, residents will have exclusive access to the city’s parking spots from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends.
It will be up to the city to determine whether the residential and office parking needs leave any room for public parking in the deck.
Holt said she’s glad to have guaranteed catering parking. She worries, though, about whether losing public spaces in the garage will affect her business. Few downtown restaurants and shops have guaranteed customer parking.
Councilwoman Kay Crowder said it was important to find an accommodation for Clyde Cooper’s because she doesn’t think it was clear how the move would affect their catering business.
She also said a deal that gives so many city-owned spaces to non-public uses would have a tougher time getting through the council today.
“The city is growing so much now we don’t need to get into the parking business,” Crowder said.