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Changes to Raleigh zoning laws allow for historic mansion to be sold, turned into $2M luxury townhomes

Residents of a historic downtown Raleigh area are organizing against the city's latest rezoning law that is allowing a private resident to sell their mansion to a developer and 17 luxury townhomes on their former property.

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Matt Talhelm
, WRAL reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — Residents of a historic downtown Raleigh area are organizing against the city's latest changes to rezoning laws that are allowing a private resident to sell their mansion to a developer to build 17 luxury townhomes on their former property.

The townhomes will cost a resident around $2 million a piece, according to Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin. The luxury housing complex is made possible under rezoning changes taking effect this week passed by the city with the intention to "better accommodate existing and future residents."

The change was passed in the summer of 2021 as "the next step in a more flexible zoning code designed to allow for smaller homes on smaller lots and denser development near high-frequency transit," according to the city. The city calls this type of development a "missing middle."
The townhomes will be located in an acre of the Hayes Barton Historic District on 908 Williamson Drive. The district was created by landscape architect Earle Sumner Draper. He created a "naturalistic landscape for the suburb, increasing its appeal as an escape from the city," according to the Raleigh Historic Development Commission.

The group of residents are organizing under the name Save Our Neighborhoods. They said while changing the zoning laws, the city also made changes so that officials would no longer have to go through a public process to approve the plans in missing middle developments.

"The worst part about it is you’re not going to know [if] it’s going to happen in your neighborhood," said Frank Gordon, a member of Save Our Neighborhoods.

The community organizers are taking their fight city-wide to prevent missing middle developments from replacing single family homes.

"You expect to have that preserved, not to have your neighbor sold out to a bunch of townhomes or apartments or tiny homes, or whatever," said community organizer Margie Case.

Baldwin said that she sees this development as a sign of progress.

"We want to be able to provide more housing," Baldwin said. "Our city is changing. We are growing."

The Save Our Neighborhoods group is organizing support starting with a meeting on Wednesday night at Hayes Barton United Methodist Church.

The developer of those townhomes, Concept 8 Holdings LLC, based in Raleigh, tells WRAL News they plan to host their own community meeting for neighbors who want to know more about the project. A date for that meeting has not yet been set.

According to Wake County tax records, the property is still owned by Rebecca S. Thompson. A spokesperson with Concept 8 Holdings LLC said that they are under contract to purchase the property but have not yet closed the deal.


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