Let’s Go To The Video Tape: RBC Plaza

Photo of RBC Plaza under constructionRBC Centura and Highwoods Properties have been in the news lately.  Both of these companies are married to a huge downtown Raleigh project – RBC Plaza.  When completed, RBC Plaza will be 33 stories tall and claim the honor downtown Raleigh’s tallest building.  This mixed use project includes office, condo, retail and parking space.  It will house the headquarters of RBC Centura, have about 139 condos above the 22nd floor (with balconies) and provide street level retail.  The condos are sold out with the building scheduled for completion in late 2008.

Here’s the late news.

RBC Plaza RenderingHighwoods Properties has hired Myriad Media to produce a documentary of the project.  Their mission is to produce a TV quality film about the whole process of contracting and constructing RBC Plaza.  I’m sure it will be extremely interesting to watch the birth of such a significant building.

RBC Centura just announced the purchase of Alabama National Bancorp.  This acquisition expands RBC’s influence in Georgia, Florida and Alabama and will likely beef up the number of RBC Centura jobs at their new downtown Raleigh headquarters.

One Block in Time – Stone’s Warehouse

Stone’s Warehouse DetailYesterday the News & Observer ran an article about a plan to juice up a city block on the near southeast side of downtown Raleigh.  Just 25 years ago this area of town was bustling with business – but it bustles no more.  There are only a handful of small businesses remaining around the block in question.  The article intrigued me so I drove out, walked around and took a couple of pictures.

The property in focus is a group of brick structures known as Stone’s Warehouse.  It’s anchored at one end by Rex Senior Health Care Center (not shown in any of these photos).  The other buildings are empty and unattended.  It’s not clear, but there’s also some vacant land which may be included.  The City of Raleigh purchased the property in 2001 and has been studying redevelopment options.  This week a potential buyer requested the City sell the property at its tax value.  The buyer, in return, would provide neighborhood-oriented residential and retail development.

Mayor Meeker said the proposed real estate deal is complicated and will be sent to committee.

Stone’s WarehouseEast and Southeast Raleigh have been receiving increased attention from moneyed players and urban pioneers (both residential and commercial).  These folks rightly see value in this part of town.  It provides less expensive entry to the downtown Raleigh party than that provided from the North and West.  You can see in the photo that Stone’s Warehouse is easy walking distance from downtown.

Stone's Warehouse DetailEast and Southeast Raleigh deserve attention.  In the process, let’s work to promote thoughtful and appropriate redevelopment decisions.  These neighborhoods have interesting history and have been home to generations of Raleighites.  I’m not focusing specifically on Stone’s Warehouse.  I admit knowing very little about this particular property.  Though it has some interesting features which make it easy to draw parallels with other warehouse reclamation projects, I don’t know enough to say it deserves special attention or is appropriate for adaptive reuse.  I just want to use this general opportunity to encourage sensitive redevelopment.  Redevelopment that weaves the past into the present and the future.  Use the bulldozers wisely.  A city needs its memories.

A Taste of Downtown Raleigh: Heilig-Levine Building

Heilig Levine Building in Downtown RaleighTomorrow (September 5th) Preservation North Carolina is hosting a reception which will include a preview of the Heilig-Levine Building in Downtown Raleigh.  Registration and reception will be held at the Raleigh City Museum in the Historic Briggs Hardware Building on Fayetteville Street (just downstairs from PNC’s office).  The Heilig-Levine Building is just a block away and will be open for tours.

This will be PNC’s 2nd annual ‘A Taste of Downtown Raleigh’ event.  Last year’s event showcased The Hudson, a condominium development on the site of the old Hudson Belk Department Store on Fayetteville Street.

Heilig-Levine Building in Downtown RaleighThe Heilig-Levine Building, built in 1870, is undergoing Raleigh’s first historic LEED certified renovation.  Developer Empire Properties worked with Cherokee Investment Partners to achieve the certification for their new headquarters office in the building.  More than 50% of the interior has been constructed with recycled wood and 75% of construction waste will be recycled.  A number of energy-saving features are also incorporated into the space including motion detecting lights, faucets that turn off by themselves, and bicycle racks and showers that encourage employees to drive less.  The Heilig-Levine renovation is the first effort in North Carolina to combine historic character with a state-of-the-art space.

Cherokee Investments occupies the upper floors of the Heilig-Levine Building.  Rumor has it that a cool new restaurant will move into the street level space.

It’s worth noting that Greg Hatem and Empire Properties received the 2006 L. Vincent Lowe, Jr. Business Award at PNC’s annual conference.  This award is presented to a North Carolina business showing vision and creativity in promoting the protection of the states architectural resources.   Empire Properties recognizes the value and charm wrapped up in Raleigh’s historic buildings.  They have taken on properties that others thought better torn down.  In doing so, they have become a major player in the movement to revitalize downtown Raleigh.  Here’s looking forward to their continued success.

Who’s In Charge – Buyers or Sellers?

To start, let’s expand a little on the tight statistic used in my all important first post (number of active listings in TMLS: 16,000+).

One year ago there were about 2,000 less active TMLS listings (14,000+).  However, the average sales price was approximately $20,000 lower.   Average sales price in mid 2006 was just over $230,000.  Average price in mid 2007 is around $250,000.  So, in the past 12 months we’ve seen a large increase in the number of homes on the market (15%) combined with a significant increase in average price (9%).

Here’s the question.  Does this indicate a Buyer’s Market or a Seller’s Market?  Ignoring the differences between specific neighborhoods, I argue that Raleigh and the Triangle area is a Seller’s market.  Some folks may disagree.

Here’s the correct answer  –  Who cares.
If you need or want to sell your house – Sell it.
If you want to buy a house – Buy it.
Don’t worry about market timing.

House Photo

Granted, it’s interesting to discuss the advantages of today’s market from both buyer’s and seller’s standpoint.  It’s also interesting (to a certain extent) to mull over how things may change next year or what affect the next spotlighted government report will have.  However, I counsel clients against basing decisions to purchase or sell on any of that stuff.

Market timing doesn’t work well in the stock market and it doesn’t work well in the housing market.  You’ll drive yourself (and those close to you) nuts if you get wound up in whether buyer’s or seller’s will have the advantage in the future.  Everyone’s crystal ball is murky.  If an expert tells what is going to happen next month, go talk to someone else.

There are plenty of other more important factors to consider.  In making the decision to buy or sell a home, be guided by things like your desired lifestyle and current financial situation.  Don’t worry about market timing.  You’ll be happier in the long run.

Surf’s Up In Raleigh

This is a North Carolina real estate blog focused on Raleigh (the Capital City) and surrounding communities (the Triangle).

Though local issues should be the focus, topics will not be strictly limited to local issues – that would take some of the fun out of it.  It would be unreasonable to stay away from State and National stuff.  Admittedly, all real estate is local, but the industry is governed by the State and is affected by what’s happening nationally.  It’s all very connected.  How many folks in the midst of a relocation have been shackled by the sale-ability (is that a word?) of property in another state?  A lot.

Today, there are 16,814 single family residential homes listed for sale in the Triangle MLS system and more unaccounted for by TMLS.  Additionally, there are 4,050 single family TMLS listings under contract – waiting to close (and more unaccounted for by TMLS).  Throw in multi-family residences and the total number of homes in transition today around Raleigh must be somewhere in the mid 20,000’s.  A lot.

Each of these individual homes has a gaggle of people (sellers, buyers, renters, agents, builders, architects, lenders, attorneys, title folks, inspectors, neighbors, the government and more) with a personal stake in the ultimate resolution of the transaction.  A lot.

Additionally, many folks who do not own property want to buy real estate.  On the flip side, everyone who owns property will sell it.  If they don’t sell it, someone will sell it for them.  We are all connected financially and emotionally to real estate.  There is extreme interest in the happenings of the real estate world.

I’m a newbie at this, but I’ll start posting.  I’m sure this venture will be a challenge and I may stumble a bit.  It’s actually quite an interesting, intimidating, exciting thing.  This is my all important first official post to this new plain vanilla blog.  As soon as I learn how to spruce things up – I will.

I know the surfing thing is corny – but it’s fun and seems appropriate.  In my past life I spent a lot of time actually surfing – and I miss it.  So, let’s paddle out and check the waves.