Owners of CAM Raleigh and HQ Raleigh properties want to grow – up

The Contemporary Art Museum in downtown Raleigh for Tar Heel of the Year, seen on Dec. 18, 2014.
The Contemporary Art Museum in downtown Raleigh for Tar Heel of the Year, seen on Dec. 18, 2014.

The future of the Warehouse District continues to look taller.

A rezoning request by a group of property owners to the city of Raleigh asks for permission to build up to 20 stories on a block of low-slung buildings that includes the Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh and the HQ Raleigh startup hub.

The properties are part of a block bounded by West Davie, South Harrington, West Martin and South West streets and make up about 1.9 acres of land. The parcels in question are currently split between three different owners: CAM, Centerline Digital and New York investor Gary Fields.

Gab Smith, executive director of CAM, said that neither CAM nor HQ Raleigh have any intentions of leaving the block.

“CAM is interested in taking part in the rezoning because our involvement allows us to control what happens and ensure it is consistent with our vision and mission,” she said in an email. “Yes, CAM is staying. The two major local stakeholders/owners (CAM and HQ) have no plans to leave the Warehouse District.”

Smith added that there is no timeline for deciding what CAM will do during the redevelopment of the property — if it makes it through the rezoning process. “There is not a timeline beyond rezoning at this time,” she said.

Charles Long, CEO of Centerline Digital, which owns the HQ Raleigh parcel, said HQ Raleigh was committed to being in whatever redeveloped building is built there.

“We are 100 percent committed to HQ and CAM being in the building (and) an integral part of the culture as the development of the Warehouse district continues,” Long said in an email.

Efforts to reach Fields were also not immediately successful, though he told The News & Observer in 2017 after buying part of the block for $4.7 million that he would likely demolish the buildings there to make room for a larger development.

“It’s an extraordinary area,” Fields told The N&O. “We’d want to do something special there fitting with the character of the area yet looking at adding to the pride of that area of Raleigh. We’re excited about it.”

S9 Architecture, a Brooklyn-based firm, has been retained by all three owners to guide early planning for the block, said Mack Paul, an attorney with the Morningstar Law Group that is representing the group.

Paul said that potential uses will include office space, residential units, a boutique hotel and street level retail, with options for public gathering spaces.

Paul also confirmed that HQ Raleigh and CAM would be staying on the block, though he did say they might have to temporarily close during any sort of redevelopment. “It is certainly possible one or both could have to close or relocate temporarily during the development phase,” he said.

The group’s application is the latest in a string of rezoning requests and plans that have been submitted from within the Warehouse District, which altogether would continue the trend of that district turning from a collection of brick warehouse buildings to a mixture of taller and more modern structures, such as the 17-story The Dillon building built by Kane Realty.

The area has received increasing attention from developers in the past few years because of its vibrant cultural scene and the construction of Union Station and The Dillon.

Kane Realty, the firm behind The Dillon, is currently trying to double down on its investments in the district. Kane has asked to build up to 20 stories on the former Clancy & Theys property, just across the railroad tracks from Union Station and The Dillon.

GoTriangle is also actively seeking partners to help develop a 20-story tower next to the new Union Station.

Another rezoning request in the Warehouse District is being pursued by Raleigh architect Steve Schuster’s firm, Clearscapes. The architectural firm wants to redevelop two historic, former warehouse buildings on West Martin Street near Nash Square and has asked to build up to 12 stories.

And just this week, the luxury condo developer behind The Fairweather asked for permission to build up to 12-stories at 401 W. Cabarrus St., a parcel of land that is currently home to several small brick buildings.

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Zachery Eanes is the Innovate Raleigh reporter for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. He covers technology, startups and main street businesses, biotechnology, and education issues related to those areas.