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BHennington

The Raleigh "Crescent" development ideas

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With the increasing developer interest in the Warehouse District and the City of Raleigh moving forward with the Union Station project it leads to some questions about future areas that will be developed in this area. One of those areas is the plot of land NW of the proposed Union Station that I have deemed the "Crescent" (due to the shape of course). This large sweeping area of unique land within the city, due to being  surrounding by tracks on all sides, could be an area that adds tremendous value to the warehouse district. Any ideas of what could be developed here? Do we limit height to maintain the view of the city from Boylan Avenue? Are there structural concerns for high density developed here due to train activity?

 

Crescent_zpswrzg0e6o.jpg

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Another area that I see which is prime for new residential and mixed use development is the 4th ward and other parts of Boylan Heights. With the planned conversion of Dix Hill into an urban park and the expansion of the Warehouse District to being more of a commercial district and the development of Union Station, the 4th ward and Boylan Heights will be ideal residential locations. I predict that property values in those areas will start to climb steadily over the next couple of years.

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Another area that I see which is prime for new residential and mixed use development is the 4th ward and other parts of Boylan Heights. With the planned conversion of Dix Hill into an urban park and the expansion of the Warehouse District to being more of a commercial district and the development of Union Station, the 4th ward and Boylan Heights will be ideal residential locations. I predict that property values in those areas will start to climb steadily over the next couple of years.

 

Yes, this area will see property values rise as they have already. For the "crescent" shaped area highlighted above I envision some sort of warehouse entertainment district. Maybe some sort of mix between Charlotte's Music Factory area, Oklahoma Cities Bricktown, and Asheville's River Arts District (RAD). Having a location right off of Union Station could really bring in crowds and further downtown development. Bringing Glenwood South farther south with a connector would further enhance this area of our city.

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Looking at the crescent in iMaps, a good chunk of it is owned by railroads. The rest is owned by Sprint, Goodwin Sand & Gravel, West Hargett Street LLC (investors?), and Empire Properties (i.e., Hatem). Won't be easy to get all those coordinated, particularly the railroads. 

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I see every square inch of property surrounding Union Station being built out at some point. It's just a matter of whether developers will choose to build entertainment, dining, retail, or residential options. In my opinion, dining and entertainment are the best options for the crescent area.

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This area has heavily restricted access. Hatem has talked up (and owns) the northern portion of it. The lack of any decent buildings means you'll never get anything with a character or a soul like River Arts. I could see small scale maker/industrial stuff being a good fit in there ala the Stones Warehouse proposals.....brewery, coffee roaster and the like stuffing their operations back in there with the retail portion fronting Hargett between Boylan Bridge and Five Star. Physically you might get a cul-de-sac of sorts on the southern part...and I'm not even sure who owns that part. Anyway, I don't think of it as prime space...more of a last use option for people late to the downtown game. 

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I think it's going to be difficult building just about anything around or between railroad tracks, mainly because of safety, hazardous materials, liability, etc.

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I think it's going to be difficult building just about anything around or between railroad tracks, mainly because of safety, hazardous materials, liability, etc.

 

Don't be so sure. Look at metropolitan cities like Chicago and NYC that have built right next to the tracks everywhere in the city (Yes I understand Raleigh is not Chicago or NYC). It is possible. Imagine a corporation that has business in Charlotte and Raleigh that could effectively use the Amtrak system to travel back and forth.. :good:  

 

If the planets eventually align and Raleigh is willing to pull the trigger on light rail, this may be a great place to create a terminal for the light rail system.

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Very few of the tracks, if any, in Manhattan or the core of Chicago carry freight. The tracks on either side of the crescent in Raleigh do. NIMBYs in the Garner-Clayton killed off the possibility of relocating the Norfolk Southern freight yard north of downtown, and if the SEHSR project is ever built you will see an increase in freight on the CSX line also. 

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For the southern part, I had envisioned a park centered around a velodrome while trying to maintain a lot of the industrial feel... maybe some hardscaping for parkour.  A pedestrian bridge from Boylan bridge to Union Station similar to the High Line.

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I would start the conversation by proposing to relocate/remove the Norfolk Southern rail line on the western edge of the crescent. That would allow Next step would be to extending  Glenwood Avenue to Hargett and incorporating this land into the block structure of the city.
 
The SEHSR project proposed relocating the Norfolk Southern, converting the diamond into a series of crossovers. Norfolk Southern was not interested in that proposal. There has to be a way to get them to relocate. It may be expensive but it might be worth it as a part of a major overhaul and consolidation of railroads through the city.

 

Aspects of this plan:

  • Consolodate CSX and Norfolk Southern lines north of downtown (as far north as Edgeton) onto a single four-track right-of-way, probably following the proposed SEHSR NC5 route.
    • Glenwood Yard could be closed and relocated, and the land it occupies redeveloped. This area has a lot of potential to become Raleigh's answer to the South End neighborhood in Charlotte.
      • One possible area for relocation could be the land between Hammond Rd and the NCRR immediately south of the beltline.
      • Some functions could be retained on the land between Capital Blvd and the current CSX line
    • CSX's route through Glenwood South and by Seaboard Station and the Cotton Mill could be closed and redeveloped (or simply handed over to light rail.
  • Create a new connection between the NCRR and Norfolk Southern's line to Fayetteville, and abandon the line along the west edge of this "crescent" and through Dix.
    • The "crescent" could be reincorporated into the downtown grid as above
    • The line through Dix and such could be repurposed for a greenway and/or transit connection between downtown and Dix.
 
Railroad reloactions/consolidations like this do happen. Even in the southeastern US, projects of similar scope have been done before in Atlanta, Charlotte, and Columbia, SC. Charlotte also has an ongoing program called "CRISP" where they are currently making more improvements of a similar nature.

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I sense a general belligerence from the rail companies when it comes to working with cities in NC. Is this an across the board attitude, strictly business side stuff, or something targeted strictly at say Raleigh and its "liberal" attitude? Why do they insist on staying in these hemmed in, outdated facilities? Granted I don't know squat about any of their needs, but it would seem like sitting on this expensive real estate in city centers would start to be an unloadable asset at some point. NCRR did see the light on the Depot and fixed that up on their dime but that is at least partly because they considered it 100% unneeded space. 

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Is "Glenwood Yard" the group of tracks behind Antique Revival, Continental Golf, etc?  If so, then getting rid of those could be a huge opportunity for redevelopment along an extended West Street and integrating it with the Roanoke & Georgetown neighborhoods!!

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The aerial renderings for Union Station appear to show a large pond in the southern portion of the crescent. I don't know if that is something that is actually planned or if it was just the artist taking some creative liberties with the renderings, but a park with a large pond would be OK with me. 

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You mean the proposed "stormwater garden" directly to the North of the building?  Well, that was one of the recent eliminations for cost savings on March 3.

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Railroads can be belligerent or at least uncooperative. But they think in terms of decades if not centuries. 99% of rail lines that you see in service today were there 100 years ago. In North Carolina, many of today's most heavily used railroad lines predate the Civil War. Linear land with the tight constraints of horizontal and vertical curvature that railroads require is very difficult to acquire, and environmental regulations make it very expensive to construct new railroad lines even where the real estate can be found.

 

For those reasons, getting a railroad to relinquish or to relocate a line it uses is a formidable undertaking. Orulz has a good plan but someone will have to throw a lot of money at CSX and Norfolk Southern to get it done. Those railroads are very skeptical that the SEHSR project will ever be built, and they're protecting their assets in case SEHSR never happens. Who can blame them?  

 

Norfolk Southern does recognize the redevelopment potential for the Glenwood Yard site and would have been happy to relocate to Garner-Clayton, assuming that somebody paid for the new freight yard. 

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That wasn't what I was referring to. You can see a large pond in the southern portion of the crescent in the rendering in this article. It is across the tracks from where the stormwater garden was going to be. http://raleighpublicrecord.org/news/city-council/2015/03/06/council-approves-increased-funding-for-union-station/

 

Ah, yes, light blue was probably a poor choice by the artist, but matches exactly the existing gravel / paved area of the "crescent".

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That wasn't what I was referring to. You can see a large pond in the southern portion of the crescent in the rendering in this article. It is across the tracks from where the stormwater garden was going to be. http://raleighpublicrecord.org/news/city-council/2015/03/06/council-approves-increased-funding-for-union-station/

This is along the path of a long gone stream bed that once started at Joel Lanes spring house approximately where Oak City roasting is today. The drainage still probably needs addressed in some manner due to the subsurface drainage patterns still in existence. That stream emerges today at Cabarrus and Rosengarten. 

Edited by Jones_

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I've wondered why didn't they build the Citrix parking deck in the crescent and build a skybridge over the railroad tracks? Seems like the cost of a skybridge would be more than offset by the value of the land where the parking deck currently is- would have been a great site for a mixed-use development.

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Well.. if Cary cannot get the rezoning request approved for TopGolf I think this area would be a great place for it. Not sure how large of an area would be needed and whether this area could support a driving range of sorts. Could work with some decent architecture.

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Well.. if Cary cannot get the rezoning request approved for TopGolf I think this area would be a great place for it. Not sure how large of an area would be needed and whether this area could support a driving range of sorts. Could work with some decent architecture.

 

Nah, wouldn't fit.  And urban locations are not the Top Golf model.  In my opinion, the best location we can hope for Top Golf would be 2912 Wake Forest Road.  If it has to be Cary, then I'll still go, just not as much.  Similar to my attendance at RailHawks games - would easily be a season ticket holder if they were in downtown Raleigh, but with them in Cary - just a few games a year.

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