Midtown Raleigh News

Downtown Raleigh to add luxury apartment tower

A sleek-looking, glass apartment tower will become the newest addition to Raleigh’s skyline after the planning commission approved a site plan for the 23-story building.

Novare Group, an Atlanta developer, is partnering with local developer Gregg Sandreuter’s Beacon Partners on the 320-unit project, dubbed SkyHouse Raleigh. The site is at the corner of Martin and Wilmington streets, just a block from Moore Square.

With a top-floor pool and balconies overlooking the city, SkyHouse is aimed at young professionals who want a “luxury in-town residential experience” near restaurants, entertainment and work, Novare Group says.

The rise of urban living in Raleigh mirrors a national trend.

For the first time in a century, most of America’s largest cities are growing at a faster rate than their surrounding suburbs, new 2011 census estimates show.

Young adults have earned the nickname “Generation Rent” because of their desire for shorter-term apartment living. The demographic of 18- to 29-year-olds make up roughly 1 in 6 Americans.

They want easy access to culture and nightlife – without the long commutes and hefty gas bills of the suburban lifestyle. Many are saddled with college debt or working in lower-wage jobs, and they’re putting off careers, marriage and children.

When Leo Suarez told his landlord he’d be vacating his two-bedroom rental house next month in the Thompson-Hunter neighborhood just east of downtown, house-seekers didn’t take long to start sniffing.

Suarez, a 28-year-old blogger, decided to move elsewhere for cheaper rent.

“Within a day’s time, he got over 20 inquiries on it,” Suarez said of his landlord. “I thought it was pretty surprising. Then I started to look at places for myself, and I found out there was a lot of competition (among renters).”

Public art planned

Parking for the new apartment tower will be in an existing city-built parking deck next to the site. The developers will provide space for public art between the deck and building, as well as along storefronts planned at street level.

Raleigh has a program that sets aside one-half of 1 percent of municipal construction funds for the creation of public art. Before, it was funded mostly through private donations.

The SkyHouse project does not require City Council approval unless the planning commission’s decision is appealed by July 16.

Commission members raised few issues with the design of the building. Commissioner Steve Schuster questioned the impact on downtown’s overloaded stormwater facilities.

The area is already prone to flooding during storms, said Schuster, an architect and founder of Clearscapes, a Raleigh design firm.

Ben Brown, a stormwater development supervisor for the city, said the project will have onsite storage of stormwater, so it won’t make conditions any worse.

Construction is scheduled to begin this fall and will likely take two years.

Sandreuter had originally planned to build two office towers as part of the multi-block Edison development, but there is little demand for new offices in the slow economy.

In future phases, the south end of the block will include a mid-rise building of six to seven floors with residences and ground floor retail.

Clyde Cooper’s BBQ, located in the middle of that project, will be demolished. Cooper’s will move to a nearby location as part of a plan worked out in advance with the restaurant.

Ariella Monti of the Raleigh Public Record, contributed to this report. www.raleighpublicrecord.org