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Here's what could come out of the ashes of last year's downtown Raleigh fire

Huge fire in Raleigh, one year later

Dramatic video from the five-alarm fire on March 16, 2017 in downtown Raleigh that destroyed the Metropolitan apartments, damaged the Quorom and Link buildings and caused $50 million in damage.
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Dramatic video from the five-alarm fire on March 16, 2017 in downtown Raleigh that destroyed the Metropolitan apartments, damaged the Quorom and Link buildings and caused $50 million in damage.

A little more than a year after a large fire charred a city block of downtown Raleigh, the owners of three badly damaged buildings hope to redevelop their properties into a mixed-use tower.

The March 2017 fire at the under-construction Metropolitan apartment building at Jones and Harrington streets damaged several nearby buildings and caused an estimated $50 million in damage.

Three owners of damaged buildings – the North Carolina League of Municipalities, the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners and the Local Government Federal Credit Union – control a combined 2-acre property valued at more than $15.3 million, according to Wake County property records.

The trio is asking real estate services firm CBRE to help find a partner to create a mixed-use building that would include about 130,000 square feet of office space for their own use.

Requests for qualifications will be accepted until June 15 and will require a minimum parking ratio of 3.5 per 1,000 square feet.

It's likely that any potential redevelopment would be much larger than the space needed by the local government groups. Other uses could include a hotel, apartments or condos, said Chester F. Allen, of CBRE's Land Services Group.

"We're going to follow the market on this one," Allen said.

The site is zoned to allow up to 12 stories, but it's likely that any future developer will request a variance on that, he added.

Allen expects the project will attract multiple developers because it is such a highly visible location and an "anchor point of downtown Raleigh for those commuting from the north on Capital Boulevard." He added that it should take around six to nine months for a developer to be named.

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A large fire engulfed a building under construction in downtown Raleigh near the Glenwood South district on March 16, 2017. Chris Seward cseward@newsobserver.com

The redevelopment of the property could help bridge the government-dominated capital district with the bustling Glenwood South district, said Bill King, senior vice president of economic development and planning for the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.

"It is a great opportunity to add density in a part of downtown that doesn't have much, particularly when it comes to office space," King said. "It is between the state government campus and Glenwood South, which is sort of quiet area.

"It's a benefit for Glenwood South, which has had tremendous residential and restaurant growth," King added, noting the area also has the 10-story One Glenwood building under construction. "But it could use more daytime traffic (from nearby offices)."

King said he expects the demand to help redevelop the site will be high, especially given how valuable land has gotten in the downtown area.

Recent sales of downtown properties have reached new highs recently with the 301 Hillsborough St. property going for more than $9 million an acre and the former News & Observer site on McDowell Street fetching more than $7 million per acre.

"The timing of this couldn't be better," Allen said of the real estate market downtown. "No one wanted to be in this situation, and thank God no one got hurt, but if the end result is a nice new complex, it's a win-win for everyone. "

Construction is underway after a 5 alarm fire destroyed the partially-built Metropolitan apartment building and damaged surrounding buildings in Raleigh one year ago.

The five-story Metropolitan Apartments began rebuilding late last year, with an expected completion date sometime in 2019.

The cause of the fire is still unknown, despite an intensive investigation.



Zachery Eanes: 919-419-6684, @zeanes
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