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2 DT Raleigh Condo Projects Get Go Ahead

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Two downtown Raleigh condo projects get construction go-ahead

Kim Nilsen

RALEIGH - Margaret Mullen is so bullish on downtown Raleigh that she plunked down a deposit this month for a two-bedroom, two-bath condo at the planned Dawson on Morgan.

"I'm that confident in the future of downtown," says Mullen, who as president of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance is expected to be the center city's chief cheerleader.

Bob Bazemore is a somewhat more unlikely advocate. He has lived in the same north Raleigh home for 17 years. But as Bazemore and his wife, Cynthia, approached their empty-nest stage, they decided to leave the suburbs for another upscale condo in downtown Raleigh, at The Paramount.

"It will be a lifestyle change for us," he says.

Mullen and the Bazemores are among the 47 buyers who have signed purchase contracts at either The Dawson or The Paramount. The contracts were enough to convince the developers of each project to order construction to begin - a major breakthrough for downtown revitalization.

For The Dawson, moving ahead meant getting 20 of its 52 units under contract. Work on the site, which is now a parking lot at the southwest corner of Dawson and Morgan streets, should begin in December. The project idled for more than two months past a scheduled September start because it lacked a building permit and the requisite number of buyers.

For the 82-unit Paramount, bulldozers on Nov. 18 began clearing the land. Developers Mark Andrews and Andrew Sandman have 27 purchase contracts in hand, representing about 40 percent of the building's sales potential. That was enough for them to trigger demolition of older homes on the site.

"Every housing unit is a big plus and helps take us another step closer to an 18- to 24-hour-a-day downtown," says Mullen.

With an 18-month construction schedule, The Paramount's first residents could move in by March or April 2005, Andrews says. The Dawson is working on a 12-month construction timeline, which could mean a December 2004 opening.

Andrews dismisses talk of financial risk for the investors behind The Paramount, which is Raleigh's largest condo project yet. The project marks a $22 million investment by the development group, and its condos range in price from about $185,000 to $600,000.

With the sales milestone reached, he says the market has shown it will support the 10-story building.

Other similar projects have sputtered. One luxury building ballyhooed in 2001, the $20 million, 60-unit Metropolitan, fizzled and has since been shelved. The conversion of the former Hudson Belk building to condos and commercial space stalled when the developer, Modern Continental Enterprises, experienced cash-flow problems. Local developer Vaughn King since has taken over that project.

Newer offerings, including Neal Coker's 510 Glenwood and the smaller 1001 Hillsborough, a McDonald-York project, have been slow to sell out.

But most of those who do buy are well-heeled. Condos at 510 Glenwood this year have sold for prices as high as $460,000, according to Wake County records.

Downtown watchers say the pricey nature of the projects coming on line will not deliver a diverse mix of homeowners to the district. "I still think we face a huge need for more affordable units," Mullen says. A survey commissioned by the Downtown Raleigh Alliance revealed an appetite for downtown living, but little stomach for the high-end prices.

But residential designer Gary Murphy admits he was shopping for luxury when he studied The Paramount's amenities, look and location.

"I wanted to have that maintenance-free lifestyle and the ability to walk to what I want to do," says Murphy, principal in the Murphy Garnow Design Group. He signed a contract for a ninth floor unit with a 1,000-square-foot terrace that will have a view of Raleigh's bustling Glenwood South corridor. "This has more of a big city presence to it," he says.

For the Bazemores, The Paramount's fifth floor pool and other amenities were attractive, but the building's location was the biggest selling point.

"I just think that's a vibrant area," Bob Bazemore says. "It's more of an urban atmosphere." He likes the fact that he'll be able to walk to restaurants on Glenwood South, be close to shopping at Cameron Village and near established residential neighborhoods.

Murphy wasn't put off by the 2005 arrival date. "It just gives that corridor time to grow," he says. "It will be that much more in the heart of things."

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Great news for DT Raleigh...both of these projects are really going to add to the rejuvination of the downtown area.

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Thanks for posting it, DonaltoPablo. I will be providing photos as these projects will be moving forward. The Paramount looks like a beautiful project and I am anxious to see how it will be in real life. My wife and I are still contemplating whether we should look into getting another house, around downtown this time, or even consider an apartment. The Paramount sounds like an excellent deal, although pricey. The only units we would consider sell for $500,000 to $600,000... That's too much for our wallet, but if one likes the lifestyle, then a condo would make sense. Unfortunately, I will need more than 2500 sq. ft., as I have accumulated a ton of stuff throughout the years, especially books and magazines.

Here are a couple of shots, for those who have not seen the renderings yet:

The Paramount

Paramount.gif

The Dawson

dawson.gif

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Raleigh, still needs to work on affordable housing in downtown. The same condo that in downtown Charlotte goes in the low to mid $100s goes for almost $250 to $300 in Raleigh. The expensive condos are usually the first ones to come in, followed later by condos built for the middle class folks that make $50K a year.

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Thanks for the renderings Raleigh. Def keep us posted on the construction progress.

Raleigh, still needs to work on affordable housing in downtown....The expensive condos are usually the first ones to come in, followed later by condos built for the middle class folks that make $50K a year.

I completely agree. I think the new condo construction in DT at all is an excellent signal of things to come. The expensive condos come first, followable by affordable housing. But regardless, as long as it's a trend towards this type of development, this is excellent news for Raleigh. I know Raleigh gets lot of hell for not having the most urban development style. But I think Raleigh is really starting to get their act together and I love to hear news like this about changing development patterns in the city. The sprawl will always continue, but at least offering an intown option and appeal is really going to help Raleigh imagine, not only on these forums, but with attracting new life to the city.

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I agree with Uptownliving... the upcoming condos are mostly for people who make big bucks, or have enough money to make a huge down payment. There is a new proposal for a parcel on Jones and Harrington Streets (two blocks East of Glenwood Ave); the proposed mixed-use project will provide (according to the developer) affordable units, far less in price than the condos under way, or planned. The proposed building will cost about $20 million and construction could start as early as February 2004. Considering that The Paramount will cost $22 million, the proposed building should be no less than 8 stories high, if not more. The developer needs the city to rezone that area in order to bring the building closer to the street.

The truth is that the big money needs to move into the center before anyone else does. Bringing people with lower incomes won't help as much, unless they come in huge numbers. Also, I do not see a high-rise option for rental units; the whole condominium scene is about to get overcrowded, for the standards of Raleigh of course. Someone needs to consider building apartment buildings near Moore Square, to the East side, and possibly between The Dawson and Deveraux. That way, many people may move downtown, knowing that they won't need to be locked into a huge investment, if things go wrong for them [financially] one day.

I certainly need to give Margaret Mullen lots of credit for leading the way. Currently, she lives in a NIMBY stronghold (Five Points), but her decision to move downtown says a lot about her true intentions to help the whole revitalization effort. Many people just do the talking, without being consistent with what they preach. Margaret is a true supporter of a stronger core and not only because she leads the Downtown Alliance.

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Great News for Raleigh I love those condo's there very nice I think Raleigh need some more fine condo's like that.

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Also, given the State Government's decision to turn several parcels of land, near the historic Oakwood and along Blount Street, to the private sector, there will be great opportunities for mid-to-high-rises with a little more vintage flavor. I mean, there are parcels that are either underutilized, or used for parking; there is a great opportunity to build apartment and condo buildings between 5-10 stories high, thus creating a smooth transition from low-rise neighborhoods to high-rise ones. Bloomsbrury Estates I and II seem to be delivering exactly that and I can't wait until some nice renderings are available for viewing. The historic neighborhoods around DT Raleigh provide an excellent opportunity, while The Dawson and The Paramount will blend nicely with the existing environment because they do not overwhelm the surrounding neighborhoods. I need to emphasize that The Dawson started as a 15-story mixed-use building... only to be significantly reduced to 1/3 of its original size :(

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These are nice looking buildings. They seem a little small. Given the high prices in Raleigh, it seems they would develop something tall with big views for big money. Is there a height limit there?

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Thanks for the renderings, Raleigh-NC! They look like nice buildings. Good news for Raleigh!!

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There are no height restrictions, even though The Paramount is actually kind of tall for that area. Boylan Avenue runs parallel to the West of Glenwood Ave, where everything else is 1-2 stories high/short. Look at the following rendering for a better view, looking towards the West:

pool.jpg

The Dawson, as I mentioned before, started as a 15-story, mixed-use project. It looked really nice, but when the time came to deliver it, there was no momentum there, nor the market was good. So, they ended up with a 5-story building :(

What's necessary is to understand that there are several projects going on, at the same time. Here is a small list:

1) The Paramount

2) The Dawson

3) The Yarborough

4) Bloomsbury Estates I and II

5) Hudson

6) Metropolitan

That list does not include current renovations/conversions of smaller buildings, or future proposals, even though Bloomsbury Estates I and II, and the Metropolitan have still to break ground; technically you may call them proposals, too. Now, this type of development pace is too much for DT Raleigh, especially when one considers the price tag. Quite frankly, I am surprised to even see the above projects going. On the other hand, I "blame" the current trend of "filling the gaps" (=infills). Instead of ensuring that only high-rises get built downtown, they want to see some momentum, even if that means small projects. Don't get me wrong, this is exactly how growing momentum gets generated, but I am afraid it may backfire, leading to several low-rise/mid-rise residential projects in the center.

So, to answer the question on why shorter buildings are built instead, I must emphasize that Raleigh is a mid-sized city, relatively new (outside downtown and some nearby neighborhoods), and still in search of what it wants to be when it grows up. There is more on the drawing boards than I can even share here, but I will remain patient, until some of these projects actually make it to the City Council for approval. Let's say that the ground is being tested before residential high-rises get built.

One prediction, not related to this thread: RBC/Centura will not move its HQ to Raleigh. If I had money to spend, I would say that Atlanta is a candidate. Just a guess. I included this here because we bet a lot on RBC/Centura moving its HQ in DT Raleigh. It may happen, but I won't hold my breath.

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