Midtown Raleigh News

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Council approves 99-year deal for artists’ housing

The old Stone’s Warehouse property in Southeast Raleigh is one step closer to becoming affordable housing marketed to artists.

The Raleigh City Council voted 7-1 Tuesday to approve a 99-year lease with developer Vann Joines and The Landmark Group.

They want to use a combination of affordable housing and historic preservation tax credits to restore the structures as a 49-unit apartment complex with large living rooms to accommodate artists’ studios. The historic property has been vacant for decades, and only its shell remains.

Before approving the lease, several council members asked whether the city could instead use a 30-year term and evaluate the project again after that period. Joines said a shorter term wouldn’t work because his business plan calls for selling tax credits to another company to obtain financing. That arrangement requires a deal “that has to look like ownership,” he said.

The next step for Stone’s Warehouse is a rezoning public hearing at 9 a.m. Feb. 5 at City Hall, 222 W. Hargett St. Staff writer Colin Campbell

Resolution opposing military spending is approved

The Raleigh City Council voted 5-3 Tuesday to approve a resolution urging the federal government to cut military spending.

The group Return Our War Dollars brought nearly 100 people to a recent council meeting in support of the resolution. The group’s leaders said $1.75 billion in tax revenues should be spent on domestic projects rather than military efforts.

The council didn’t debate the war in Afghanistan, discussing instead whether the issue merits city leaders’ two cents. Return Our War Dollars members said such resolutions offer a stronger message to federal officials, and city councils in Durham and Burlington have already approved the document.

“I’d rather focus on the things we actually have a say in – how we develop the city,” said Councilman Bonner Gaylord, who voted against the resolution. “Not that I’m against bringing war dollars home – I’m against the principle of voting for foreign policy suggestions from this board.”

The original resolution asks the federal government to “end our military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, bring our troops and war dollars home and use those and other savings in military spending to meet vital human needs” and other domestic priorities.

The city council took out the phrase “our troops” because several military veterans on the board objected to the wording. “Where I do have an issue is where you bring it on the backs of the guys that are downrange,” Councilman Randy Stagner said. “Do not involve the soldiers.”

But Councilman John Odom said he was against the revised text. “Leaving the troops there and taking the money out creates a problem for me,” he said.

Staff writer Colin Campbell

Scaled-back Oberlin plan garners city support

Developers of a planned apartment complex near Cameron Village scaled back the latest project there in part because of neighbors’ traffic concerns.

Raleigh real-estate broker Jim Anthony wants to tear down a vacant one-story office building at 616 Oberlin Road and replace it with 250 apartments wrapped around a parking deck. The city council’s comprehensive planning committee expressed tentative approval for the downsized plan Wednesday.

“In order for our city to be ready for transit, we need to encourage density in mixed-use areas in walkable locations,” Councilman Bonner Gaylord said.

Mack Paul, an attorney for Anthony’s development firm, presented updated plans for 616 Oberlin on Wednesday. The apartment complex will drop from 275 to 250 units, with four stories instead of five at the Oberlin Road street front. Anthony won’t develop a second lot that faces Daniels Street, a two-lane residential street that already doubles as a shortcut from Wade Avenue to Cameron Village. He also agreed to a comprehensive traffic study.

Even with the concessions, many neighborhood residents were still opposed to the project.

Staff writer Colin Campbell

Historic Southeast Raleigh home gets reprieve

A blighted historic home in Southeast Raleigh narrowly escaped the wrecking ball: It’s under contract and the soon-to-be owner is already making repairs.

Preservation North Carolina – the nonprofit that’s helping save the Villa Florenza house on Poole Road – on Tuesday persuaded the Raleigh City Council to hold off on demolitions for at least four more months. That’s how long the sale process is expected to take.

Jason Queen of Preservation North Carolina said the buyer has already made roof repairs and installed a security fence around the back of the house; he’ll spend another $50,000 on repairs after the sale is finalized. The buyer hopes to restore the building as an office building within two years, Queen said.

When William A. Curtis built the house in 1915, the Lincoln Park neighborhood between New Bern Avenue and what’s now Poole Road served as a border between white and black sections of Raleigh at the height of the Jim Crow era.

Staff writer Colin Campbell