After meeting with city leaders for weeks, Kane Realty on Thursday revised its proposal for a transformational tower project in downtown Raleigh’s warehouse district – banning bars, capping numbers of stories and other tweaks.
Raleigh-based Kane Realty wants to build a $150 million mixed-use project – with a tall tower and a smaller residential building – on 2.5 acres between south West Street and South Harrington Street. The land, located a few blocks west of Fayetteville Street, is mostly occupied by an old Dillon Supply Co. warehouse.
Kane submitted its plans earlier this year, but faced resistance from some residents and Councilwoman Kay Crowder at a public hearing in July.
Residents said they feared that the project would contribute to the city’s raucous nightlife. Crowder, the presumed swing vote, said Kane needed to include more retail space and more specific detail about his plans and to promise to preserve the character of the Dillon building.
The rezoning request and development conditions submitted Thursday aim to address those concerns, and the city council is scheduled to review the proposal at its meeting on Sept. 1.
New development conditions prohibit bars and nightclubs as tenants and cap the heights at 17 stories for the tower and nine for the smaller building. The proposal also calls for active uses on more building sides than originally planned.
The new conditions also call for Kane to preserve the façade facing Martin Street and the side with the “Dillon Supply Co. Steel and Pipe Products” sign. Kane initially offered to reconstruct the Martin façade and sign if they were damaged during construction.
“We just tried to react as best as we could and get the best project for the community,” said John Kane, the company’s CEO.
Nightlife, but no bars?
The project would still feature nighttime recreation despite the bar ban. The city defines bars and nightclubs as any business that earns 70 percent of its annual profits from alcohol sales. So the project could still feature restaurants that have bars and stay open late, Kane said.
He and Crowder reached compromises after meeting and talking for several weeks. Crowder’s support for the project is key in this case because, to gain approval, each of the five voting council members must support it.
The Raleigh City Council has eight members. But Bonner Gaylord, Wayne Maiorano and Russ Stephenson recused themselves from the vote because they have ties to Kane Realty.
Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Mary-Ann Baldwin, John Odom and Eugene Weeks have expressed general support for the project. Crowder was the only one to express reservations publicly, and her influence is evident in Kane’s revisions.
Crowder, who was in Alaska on Thursday night, said she hadn’t seen Kane’s paperwork but felt comfortable commenting on some of their verbal agreements. She said her top priority was getting Kane to agree to install entrances and lots of windows on the West Street building façade, which he did.
That side of Kane’s building is the first thing commuters will see when they exit the forthcoming Union Station transit hub, which is expected to open one block from Kane’s site in 2017.
“It took a little work, but we got there,” Crowder said in a phone interview. “We’ll get a lot more activity and the experience will fit well with what we’re trying to accomplish at the station.”
The newly proposed conditions also prohibit the use of EIFS (pronounced EE-fus), a type of synthetic stucco. The material was despised by Crowder’s late husband Thomas Crowder, who she succeeded on the council. Thomas Crowder railed against the material years ago when Marriott wanted to use it on its downtown hotel.
The conditions also specify that a truck loading area will be integrated into building designs so that trucks don’t block streets in the warehouse district – something Crowder expressed concern about at the public hearing.
Parking needs considered
The council’s approval of Kane’s project will affect not only the skyline – Kane’s tower would be the tallest building in the district – but parking in the area.
There’s a critical need for parking in the warehouse district, Raleigh officials say. And council members last month acknowledged that they’d been negotiating with Kane to acquire spaces in his proposed deck.
To expand its parking options, Raleigh in late July solicited parking offers from the entire development community. Kane, with a partner, was the only group to submit an offer.
Kane plans to build 850 parking spaces as part of his project, and needs 500 to comply with city rules. The City Council on Tuesday directed staff to negotiate with Kane to acquire at least 250 of the remaining 350 spaces.
The parking space negotiations are separate from Kane’s effort to rezone the Dillon property and build his project, city officials say. But, if parking negotiations go well, the city could consider a parking agreement with Kane when his project goes before the board again next month, Jim Greene, an assistant city manager, said on Tuesday.