The city’s high-rise visions for western downtown are meeting resistance from condominium owners.
Raleigh’s government wants to bring private development to the “301 Hillsborough” block, where a number of projects have failed before. To entice buyers, the city is moving to rezone its 1.2-acre lot, and the owners of the rest of the block would like to do the same, preparatory to selling to the highest bidder. The land is home to the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, a law firm and two parking lots.
The new rezoning would set a limit of 20 stories on construction for the block. Owners in the Dawson and Park Devereux buildings want the city to set a lower height limit. The current rules allow unlimited height, but each building plan requires specific council approval.
“It would also set a dangerous precedent for all of Raleigh. It is 10 times the average height of buildings in our neighborhood,” said Jon Kolkin, representing the Dawson’s Home Owners Association board.
He argued before the Raleigh Planning Commission Tuesday for a seven-floor limit, to ramp down building heights on downtown’s borders. Opposition to the rezoning is strong in the residential building, he said.
A previously approved plan would have allowed a 32-story tower, but more recent development has been less lofty, Kolkin argued, pointing to the Citrix warehouse and the Hue building.
“Yes, we want lots of thickening up downtown, but the character of it is very important,” said Anne Franklin, a resident of Park Devereux, a block south of the Dawson. “I do not think the city has made its case.”
Rezoning would impose a new height limit, but would ultimately allow more residential units – about 939 in total, compared to 636 currently.
The Planning Commission recommended approval of the matter in two split votes, with only Rodney Swink dissenting.
“If we don’t do height here, I don’t know where we’re going to do it,” said Commissioner Eric Braun. Swink said any building on the site should be shorter in order to fit the area. “My opposition is based on the notion of context and respecting that transition,” he said.
The matter next goes to the Raleigh City Council, though a hearing hasn’t been scheduled.