Wake County

Flying Saucer site in downtown Raleigh could be redeveloped

The site of the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium bar and restaurant in downtown Raleigh is up for redevelopment.
The site of the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium bar and restaurant in downtown Raleigh is up for redevelopment. newsobserver.com

The site of the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium bar and restaurant is up for redevelopment.

Two firms have jointly applied to rezone nearly an acre of land on the west side of downtown Raleigh.

The lots are on the same block as the “301 Hillsborough” site, which the city plans to sell for high-rise development.

The property also includes a parking lot and the Hatch, Little & Bunn law offices, all bounded by Hillsborough, Morgan and South Harrington streets.

“Our thinking is that if the city is successful in selling their property, and then that buyer wants to come and talk to us, we will be happy to talk,” said David Permar, a partner in the law firm and the listed contact person for the rezoning.

“We’re just simply following the city’s lead.”

The landowners have heard from three or four potential buyers so far, Permar said. All seem to be interested in both the city property and the neighboring private property, which is held by 327 Associates and Vandy LLC. Members of Vandy, which owns Flying Saucer’s lot, weren’t immediately available for comment.

The city plans to sell its 1.2 acres to the highest bidder. That half of the block is worth an estimated $3 million, according to the city.

Previous plans for a combination condominium, office and retail building on the site were doomed by financial troubles, and ultimately crushed by the recession. Reynolds Co. bought part of the land from the city in 1998 and held it until 2009, when the council bought the land back.

“We essentially were in the same position eight years ago,” Permar said.

The proposed rezoning requests, both filed in December, would designate the land as DX-20-SH, a district newly created by Raleigh’s revision of its zoning rules.

That zoning would allow a maximum of 20 levels and require that the building stand close to the street.

The current zoning doesn’t include a height limit, Permar said. The rezoning would help ready the land for redevelopment under the city’s updated rules.

Neither proposal is scheduled yet for a public hearing.

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