Local News

Downtown Raleigh project mixes old, new homes

Posted June 26, 2008 12:57 p.m. EDT
Updated June 26, 2008 4:58 p.m. EDT

— Crews broke ground Thursday on what downtown boosters have called one of the biggest urban redevelopment projects in the nation.

The Blount Street Commons project will eventually include nearly 500 new homes amid 25 historic Victorian homes in a six-block area near downtown. Some of the century-old residences were jacked up off their foundations and moved to new locations in the development.

"We do think it's a unique project. We think it's a different kind of urban lifestyle to mix in the old, the new and green space," said Doug Redford, senior asset manager for Miami-based developer LNR Property Corp.

The Blount Street neighborhood is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, having flourished from the Civil War until the early 1900s.

The state bought up much of the property decades ago, turning many of the homes into government offices and cutting the area off from nearby neighborhoods. That created what critics have described as a "dead zone" in recent years.

"The value of the Blount Street project is that it's extending that 'historicity,' if you will, to another part of the city, which has been a little slower to maintain that," said Bruce Miller, who lives nearby.

The new homes in the 21-acre development will include architectural features that blend with the historic homes, and they will be built in a range of styles, from row houses to loft apartments to condominiums above retail shops. Homes prices will range from $200,000 to more than $1 million.

"I think what it's going to do is return this part of Raleigh to its original roots. That's how this part of Raleigh was originally, it was single-family homes," said Diane Berger, who lives nearby.

Mayor Charles Meeker and other city officials said the mix of pedestrian-friendly streets and retail in the Blount Street Commons project could be the standard for future redevelopment efforts.

"You see a lot of high-rises going up downtown, and we need to provide more choices – more opportunities both in types of housing and also price point – so that we can truly make this a very diverse community," City Councilman Thomas Crowder said.