Stone’s Warehouse – a dilapidated, city-owned building two blocks east of downtown – will be sold to developers and become part of a $10 million project that includes a grocery store, community hall and townhomes.
The Raleigh City Council on Tuesday night voted unanimously to finalize the sale of the warehouse, located on 2.6 acres on the corner of Davie Street and Chavis Way, to Transfer Company LLC for $2.02 million.
Transfer plans to spend $10 million in buying the lot and transforming the property into a neighborhood grocery store, a cafe, a community hall and small marketplace. The company’s plans also call for a new 13,000-square-foot building and 16 townhomes on the south side of the warehouse.
The council tentatively approved the sale in January, but needed to hold a public hearing to finalize the deal.
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The sale for months faced opposition from one community leader, Danny Coleman, who rehashed his concerns Tuesday night. Coleman, chairman of the South Central Citizens Advisory Committee, argued that the city should use some of the site for affordable housing because it used federal funds to purchase part of the land in the 1990s.
By approving the sale, he said the council would “take from the needy and give to the greedy,” and argued that the city hadn’t heard enough input from the community.
But the hearing drew more than two dozen people who wore gold stickers and held gold fliers in support of the project.
“We need food in the city’s largest food desert,” said Jill Stanton Bullard, CEO of the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.
The city can welcome other types of development so long as money from the property sale goes toward community development programs, according to Larry Jarvis, director of Raleigh’s housing and neighborhoods department. The city plans to use some of the money for affordable housing programs and some to help the Rex Senior Health Center move from the site to a new location on Rock Quarry Road, he said.
Coleman had also questioned the sale because Steve Schuster, chairman of Raleigh’s planning commission, was hired by Transfer as an architect. Jarvis said the city believes there is no conflict of interest because Raleigh staff – not the planning commission – evaluated purchase offers and ultimately made a recommendation to the city council.
Nonetheless, Schuster on Tuesday night offered to resign his position on the commission if the council so desired.
“Mr. Schuster, you’re not getting out of it that easy,” Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin joked.
She motioned to approve the project, and the council did so after little discussion. The move was indicative of a yearning for transformative development in East Raleigh, said Jason Queen, a lead developer with Transfer.
“Downtown is ready for something like this, and it shows by the number of people that showed up tonight,” he said.