Local News

State Land Sale Means More Downtown Raleigh Revitalization

Posted March 8, 2006

— A downtown Raleigh neighborhood is on the fringe of one extreme makeover.

Victorian homes, owned by the state and currently used as offices, will soon be for sale.

The Blount Street historic district, which is two blocks from the state Capitol, was considered Raleigh's premiere neighborhood in the late 1800s.

In the next few years it could regain that respect.

Right now, most of the old homes on Blount Street are used for state offices, but they need major work.

The paint is peeling on some houses and porches are collapsed on others.

The state decided to give them up and now they are part of a grand redevelopment plan for the North Eastern part of Downtown. Mark Joyner loves the charm of working in an old house so close to the Capitol, but it also brings challenges.

"It was never meant to be offices; people are crammed into corners here and there in what used to be a bedroom," says Joyner, executive vice president of the North Carolina Aquariums Society.

He's worked in the old house for about 15 years. Just this week, the bathroom ceiling collapsed.

The home, built in 1878, needs a lot of work and so do many others along Blount Street in downtown Raleigh.

It would take a ton of money to properly fix up the homes.

That's a main reason the state is selling 25 historic homes and 21 acres to a private developer for $20 million.

"I don't know of a single opportunity to develop 21 acres in a downtown state capital anywhere in the United States," said Doug Redford of LNR Property Corporation, which won the bid for the project.

Leaders believe it's a windfall for Raleigh's downtown.

"It brings people back downtown and adds property back to the tax roll," says Tommy Cline, general real estate manager for the State Property Office.

On existing parking lots, LNR will build single family homes. More affordable housing will be built in the way of carriage and row houses. There's also retail and office components. The existing historic homes will be sold to families who will get tax breaks to restore them.

"The people that decide to come in and undertake the labor of love to restore these homes are going to be undertaking a long process to get the homes back into residential living," says Redford.

Every change will have to be approved by the Blount Street Historic District.

Things could start moving forward as early as this summer. The entire project is expected to be finished in four years.


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