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.