Living quarters doubling in downtown Raleigh
The number of residential spaces in downtown Raleigh is expected to double in the near future, putting more strain on an area that is already trying to balance the needs of businesses and residents.Posted — Updated
About 2,300 townhouses, condominiums and apartments were in downtown Raleigh at the beginning of 2015. According to Downtown Raleigh Alliance, another 2,400 units have either come on the market in recent months or are under construction or in the planning stages.
"This is an incredibly exciting time for downtown. It's one of the most exciting times ever," said Bill King, planning and development manager for Downtown Raleigh Alliance. "Our residential boom is unprecedented. We've never had this much residential development in the city center."
The demand is driving up land prices – and likely will push up rents and sales prices later on.
An Enterprise Rent-a-Car lot on McDowell Street recently sold for $4 million to make way for one of four new planned downtown hotels.
"That's about $170 a (square) foot, so that's big money," real estate broker Les Pierce said.
"Who would have thought Raleigh would see that kind of building in the downtown area?" said Pierce, a Raleigh native. "I mean, that's incredible."
Bids for a parcel in the 300 block of Hillsborough Street have topped $4 million, dwarfing bids from years past. Orage Quarles, publisher of The News & Observer, denies reports that the newspaper has signed a contract to sell its building on McDowell Street, but he acknowledges such conversations have been held.
"There's a whole another round of construction coming," King said, citing the redevelopment of the former Dillon Supply Warehouse on the west edge of downtown.
The building boom goes beyond the growing economy, he said, noting that young professionals working downtown help drive demand.
"You want to be able to walk to work and walk to restaurants and walk to bars and walk to stores, and downtown provides you the opportunity to do that," he said.
Balancing all of that has been problematic, however, as Raleigh officials have had to deal with disputes between residents and businesses over parking, outdoor dining, trash and noise.