A newly submitted rezoning application for a nine-acre site south of downtown Raleigh could radically transform the southern entrance to the city from an area of low-slung buildings to one of 20-story towers.
Raleigh-based Five Horizons Development submitted the proposal, which asks to allow the firm to build more than 1 million square feet of office space as well as hundreds of residential units in a part of town where the city has been trying to spur private development.
The rezoning proposal would allow for up to 20 stories to be built on a site just south of Western Boulevard bordered by South Saunders and South Dawson streets.
Stuart Cullinan, president of Five Horizons, declined to comment on the project. Five Horizons has mainly worked on smaller residential projects around the downtown core of Raleigh in the past — and the South Saunders property would dwarf many of those projects.
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The company highlights itself in the application as a potential benefit to the city by creating dense housing near Dorothea Dix Park and Union Station.
Rocky Branch greenway also runs through the property, and the company says it will incorporate the greenway into its overall design.
The property is made up of 20 smaller parcels and has a total assessed value of more than $1.9 million, according to Wake County records. One of the landowners, CS Smith LLC, which owns four of the parcels, lists the same address as Five Horizons Development, according to records filed with the state. CS Smith LLC has spent around $750,000 acquiring those parcels this year, according to Wake County records.
The ambitious plan is presented as potentially being built in three separate phases, with construction timed around market conditions. Each phase would likely take between 24 months and 36 months to complete.
Across all three phases, the application states the developer would build a total of around 1 million square feet of office, 312,500 square feet of retail, 382 hotel rooms and 975 apartments.
Buildings in the first phase would be limited to 12 stories, while the second and third phase would be capped at 18 and 20 stories, respectively.
For the past several years, the city of Raleigh has wanted private investment to revitalize the area between Western Boulevard and Interstate 40. The South Saunders corridor is heavily traveled but has not seen the same sort of redevelopment that downtown has.
The city published a study on the Southern Gateway Corridor a few years ago, which envisions a massive makeover of the area that entails re-routing streets and building mixed-use offices and residences to create an attractive welcome to the capital city.
Earlier this year, an old Cargill plant between South Wilmington and South Blount streets was demolished with hopes that it would be redeveloped in the future.
At the time, city planners said interest was growing in the area, and the rezoning application from Five Horizons bears that out.
“Things are moving faster than we thought” in the South Saunders corridor, Dhanya Sandeep, a planner with the city’s Urban Design Center, told The News & Observer earlier this year. “The private sector is moving fast.”