GoTriangle submits rezoning request for bus station tower in Raleigh’s Warehouse District

The Triangle’s regional transit authority, GoTriangle, is asking the City of Raleigh for permission to build up to 40 stories on property adjacent to Union Station, the city’s train station that opened last year.

The property is set to be the future home of RUSBus, or Raleigh Union Station Bus, which will be home to six to 10 bays where local buses could collect and drop off passengers.

That project is being made possible thanks to $20 million in federal grant money — but GoTriangle’s plans have always extended past using the nearly two-acre property only as a bus station, which would open in 2022 at the earliest.

Last year, the agency said it hopes to work with private developers to build retail, housing and office space adjacent to and above the bus station, The News & Observer previously reported.

The proposed project would encompass a block of land, at 200 S. West St., that currently consists of two-story brick warehouse and office buildings, including the former headquarters of the Dillon Supply Co., which would be incorporated into the project.

Efforts to reach GoTriangle about the rezoning request were not successful.

Speaking about the project last year, Jessica Holmes, who heads the Wake County Board of Commissioners, called RUSBus a key part of the Wake Transit plan.

“It provides the connectivity and capacity we need for our expanded rail and bus systems to work together to get our residents where they need to go,” Holmes said in a statement. “The other exciting piece of the project is the new infrastructure it will bring to downtown Raleigh — hotels, offices, retail stores and affordable housing opportunities — all of which are important components to continuing our economic growth.”

The project would apparently include affordable housing.

In the request, it is noted the property owner will dedicate no less than 20 units as affordable for households “earning 80% or less of the area median income.” Those units would remain affordable for “no less than 10 years,” the application adds.

GoTriangle’s rezoning request is one of several asking for permission to build up to 40 stories in downtown Raleigh, including a proposed tower by Kane Realty on Peace Street.

However, just because a developer asks for permission to build up to 40 stories doesn’t mean they will build that high. Under Raleigh’s zoning ordinances there are only a few height categories for developers to ask for. In downtown, those height limits break down to five stories, seven stories, 12 stories, 20 stories and then it jumps up to 40 stories.

That means if you wanted to build a 21-story building on a property currently zoned for 12 stories you would have to ask for permission to build up to 40 stories.

Some developers voluntarily offer to limit the building height from the maximum 40 stories during the rezoning process.

If the City Council approves this and several other projects in the district that are wanting to build taller buildings there, the Warehouse District could look significantly different in the coming years.

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, an office and apartment tower.

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.

A group of property owners wants to build up to 20 stories on a block of land that includes the Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh and the HQ Raleigh startup hub.

Another rezoning request is being pursued by Raleigh architect Steve Schuster’s firm, Clearscapes, who 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 a luxury condo developer also 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.