orulz

Hillsborough Street - NCSU Area developments

756 posts in this topic

First, I thought I'd start off with the good.

 

hillsborough1.jpg

 

hillsborough2.jpg

 

This is the most attractive block on Hillsborough St. facing NC State University. Ignoring the sidewalk, utility pole, and street issues, it's actually a good looking group of buildings. The observant/knowledgable among you will notice that what is now Hillsborough Street Textbooks was once a theater. I wish it still WAS a theater, or a performance hall, or something like that - but being a bookstore is much better than being seedy and boarded up like it was two years ago. 6 years back this space housed a McDonald's, but business wasn't good enough (no place to drive through here!) so it shut down.

 

The leftmost building, the Q-Shack, went through a number of hands over the last couple of years, but the current tenant (fast food barbeque) seems to be doing very well so I think we finally have a keeper. All of these facades have been either well maintained (Global Village/Mitch's) or recently fixed up (Porter's City Tavern). As a result, every single one of these shops and restaurants is quite busy while school is in session.

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Here's the bad: this is what faces NCSU west of Pogue street.

hillsborough3.jpg

A very pedestrian un-friendly environment. Frequent curb cuts, a lack of uniformity in setbacks, too many parking lots, no easy access from the sidewalk to the to the entrance of the building. Maybe this sort of development works out in the suburbs, but right across from a university? gimme a break! These buildings come from the era when the sidewalk was considered passe.

That Baptist Student Center building's ENTIRE FRONT on hillsborough street is a curb cut - the entrance to its below-grade parking. Merely walking across this curb cut is a scary experience, because the entrance is sloped so steeply that cars coming out can't see pedestrians in either direction, and can't see oncoming traffic until they're straddling the sidewalk. Cars with low clearances always bottom out here, too. A terrible design.

Edited by orulz

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Now for the Ugly:

hillsborough4.jpg

hillsborough5.jpg

This is what lies between Pogue St. and Horne St. These buildings have a long way to go when it comes to pedestrian friendliness, but at least they present a contiguous, urban streetfront. From right to left:

-Two Guys has tiny windows so it's not very inviting;

-Brothers Restaurant (which closed a few days ago) has a tacky Red & White motif (Yeah, school colors, whatever, it's still tacky.)

-The Western Lanes building hasn't been touched in years, and it looks more like some tacky warehouse than a building with stores you'd want to go into. The lower floor is a black hole for small businesses; it's rare for anything that moves in there to last longer than two years. Why? The building is ugly, and the overhang makes it so dark that you can't see inside and it's just not very inviting.

-In the second picture, the "Sir Speedy" and "Gelato Cafe" building is currently under renevation. The white-on-tan paint job is a huge step up from the horrendus red-on-gray that it used to be, and they just put new glass in on those sunroom areas (although I wish they'd gone easy on the tinting.) They improved the access situation greatly as well, by installing more doors. In spite of all this work, it's still ugly. The facade is still just a flat rectangle of painted bricks - not interesting at all. I'd really like to see them blast away the paint to expose the original brick, put in some accents of some sort, install some nice awnings, and be creative with the exterior lighting. Notice how the left side of the building is a half story lower than the right? Put in a canopy up there and you got a GREAT place for a rooftop beer garden.

Edited by orulz

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Here is some of what you'll see on the NCSU side of things:

hillsborough6.jpg

This is the plaza in front of NCSU's D.H. Hill library. The road you see is the frontage road Primrose Ave., which has been esentially converted into a busway for the Wolfline. It's the first Saturday of spring break, so you don't see many students out here, but this is a very busy bus stop that most students who commute to school on the bus use.

The library behind it is architecturally unremarkable, like 90% of the NCSU campus: function over form. It was built in so many different stages and has so many different wings that it sort of has a piecemeal flavor to it. Even the 9-story bookstacks tower has two seperate wings.

It's worth noting that this used to be an entrance into the library. Now, the only entrance is on the other side of the building, facing the brickyard (the school's main plaza) but if the university could be convinced to reopen this entrance during daylight hours (7am-7pm?) that would contribute a lot to the street-level environment on Hillsborough. No need to make it a 24 hour entrance; let the one on the brickyard take care of that. But right now, it's just taking up a huge chunk of Hillsborough Street with no evident purpose.

Edited by orulz

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This is NCSU's Winston Hall. Sorry for the crappy lighting, but we are in the northern hemisphere after all ;)

hillsborough9.jpg

hillsborough10.jpg

This is the westernmost in a string of three adjoining buildings, Winston Caldwell, and Tompkins. These are the only NCSU buildings that directly address Hillsborough Street, since they're too close to allow a frontage road. The shallower setback and the large trees between the building and the street make this (in my opinion) one of the neater places on NCSU's campus.

Edited by orulz

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This is what lies between Chamberlain St. and Logan St. It's directly across from the only NCSU buildings that directly address Hillsborough Street.

hillsborough11.jpg

hillsborough12.jpg

The second building isn't too bad (it's non-contiguous, so it's not so great either) but the first one is hideous: it's just a wall of bricks! The place where the awning is missing used to be a Kinko's. The Kinko's moved down the street to a place with a curb cut and a parking lot out front.

Edited by orulz

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This is the Darryl's building which was mentioned in another thread somewhere. This was the home of the very first Darryl's Restaurant. It is now closed, and now the entire chain has fallen on rough times and seems to be on the verge of extinction.

hillsborough7.jpg

hillsborough8.jpg

This little gem of a building is right across from the Chancellor's Mansion. In my opinion it's the most attractive building on Hillsborough Street, but the fact that there is nothing around it except parking lots makes it a tough sell. Right now its future is in limbo, as the owners are deciding whether to renovate and lease, demolish and rebuild, or put it up for sale. If they want to do new construction, I wish they'd just get NCSU to let go of its parking lot next door, and build there instead... why does THIS building have to go?

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Some miscellaneous pictures from the Belltower area.

hillsborough13.jpg

hillsborough14.jpg

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The roundabout at Pullen and Yarborough.

hillsborough15.jpg

This is, as far as I know, the only roundabout on a public street in Raleigh. People whined and moaned like you wouldn't believe while this was being put in and immediately after. But after it was in for a while and people had gotten used to it, it started to grow on everyone. Some may still poke fun at it because that's the "cool" thing to do, but the fact of the matter is that it does its job really well: traffic slows down, but moves smoothly and efficiently. This is a secondary road, however - so there's no telling how things will go once the city builds more roundabouts up and down Hillsborough St where the traffic is much heavier.

Edited by orulz

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Lastly, this is a crappy picture of the YMCA on Hillsborough Street.

hillsborough16.jpg

It's a couple blocks east of the Belltower. This dated building is due to be demolished in the near future, and replaced with a much more modern facility.

Edited by orulz

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Thanks for reading. As you can see, based on location alone this area has an unbelievable amount of potential. However, decades of neglect and lack of direction allowed it to become very run-down and grungy. It's recently come on the rebound, but as you can see there's a long way to go yet.

The City of Raleigh is currently looking for money to completely rebuild the street. This project will include narrowing it down to one traffic lane in each direction, building roundabouts at all major intersections, adding a center median, adding bicycle lanes and parallel parking on both sides, improving sidewalks, and eventually burying all utilities. As this project starts to take shape, hopefully the urban environment up and down the street will improve shortly thereafter.

Read more about it here. For a complete write-up, check out the feasibility study PDF file from the city's website.

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That would be nice to see traffic calming and safety improvements on Hillsborough St mainly because of its high pedestrian volumes in/from NC State to local businesses. This will encourage businesses to fix up their establishments and attract more people into the area. There are two places i know in NJ that have done traffic calming (Clara Barton section of Edison and Avon-By-The-Sea) which has been very positive by increasing new businesses and making the area more attractable to work, visit and live in. Only downside with traffic calming is that it makes rush hour worse than it already is.

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Only downside with traffic calming is that it makes rush hour worse than it already is.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Rush hour on Hillsborough isn't really that bad. The big commuter street is Western Blvd, on the other side of campus. It's an expressway (not a freeway) that carries huge volumes of traffic into and out of downtown. They're predicting that the few people who do use Hillsborough as a through street will switch to Western after the calming measures are in place, which raises the question of whether Western will be able to handle it. If the city does some improvements on Western in conjunction with the work on Hillsborough St., there should be no problem.

On Western Blvd., there's only one stoplight between Avent Ferry and downtown, so there's no problem there, but the area between the beltline and Avent Ferry is so overrun with curb cuts and crossing streets that it can already be really frustrating in heavy traffic - so much so that I've wondered when the city and NCDOT will go about fixing this problem. I read that there was a plan to bridge Pullen Rd. all the way across Western rather than just the westbound lanes, and extend it all the way to Centennial Campus's Main Campus Drive. Avent Ferry and Gorman could also be eventual targets for grade separation. Barring that, you could at least get rid of the stoplight at Whitmore. The stoplights at Dan Allen and Method should remain. Close off the median at Nazareth while you're at it, since that's a dangerous little spot to be crossing such a busy highway.

But first and foremost, curb cuts between Method and Gorman NEED to be consolidated. On an expressway like Western Blvd, it's inexcusable for every single fast food restaurant to have its own two curb cuts. I've heard City Council discuss this problem before, and you kind of have to wonder what previous councils were smoking when they allowed this to happen. But anyway, fix all that and Western Blvd. becomes a very effective expressway, with plenty of capacity to handle the through traffic that was previously carried by Hillsborough.

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yea, there is a reason I did not choose nc state. This is it. NC State looked like a dump with the jail or mental health insitute to the side and abandoned looking buildings around. Then there is that ghetto row of houses.

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yea, there is a reason I did not choose nc state. This is it. NC State looked like a dump with the jail or mental health insitute to the side and abandoned looking buildings around. Then there is that ghetto row of houses.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Sounds like you're describing Western Blvd. to the east of NCSU.

I agree. The campus itself isn't as ugly as some people claim, but isn't too pretty either. The immediate surroundings, however, can vary from just OK to really horrendous. That part of town will need a lot of work before it can shed its seedy image.

Edited by orulz

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Its been quite some time since i drove on Western Blvd but first of all (if you knew this already, i apologize), an expressway means a highway with restricted driveway access or no driveways at all but at-grade intersections are allowed with little to none traffic signals. Second, NC tends to be more complicated with the expressway terminlogy than other states are with the criterias it follows. As the NC page of the Expressway Site is underway to be fixed to determine the Type I and Type II expressways are instead of just saying " Expressway ". All i can think of is are you talking the portion of Western Blvd roughly east of NCSU going into downtown Raleigh? If thats so, then yea i think it is an expressway with its random interchanges and I THINK there are no driveways on it but ill need to check out the area next time im in Raleigh. If you know Western Blvd and/or travel it regularly, if you'd like to supply me information and photos of Western Blvd, ill gladly accept a submission from you. :thumbsup:

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Its been quite some time since i drove on Western Blvd but first of all (if you knew this already, i apologize), an expressway means a highway with restricted driveway access or no driveways at all but at-grade intersections are allowed with little to none traffic signals. Second, NC tends to be more complicated with the expressway terminlogy than other states are with the criterias it follows. As the NC page of the Expressway Site is underway to be fixed to determine the Type I and Type II expressways are instead of just saying " Expressway ". All i can think of is are you talking the portion of Western Blvd roughly east of NCSU going into downtown Raleigh? If thats so, then yea i think it is an expressway with its random interchanges and I THINK there are no driveways on it but ill need to check out the area next time im in Raleigh. If you know Western Blvd and/or travel it regularly, if you'd like to supply me information and photos of Western Blvd, ill gladly accept a submission from you.
Edited by orulz

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Able to stomach the unpleasantries moonshield apparently wasn't, I went to NCSU from 93-97, and while there, saw the tail end of the Hillsborough St. decline, all the way to its nadir. By the time I left, the McDonalds nee theater was boarded up, the space under Western Lanes was vacant (formerly Detour), Darryls was closed (I believe), and the Rathskeller (now Porters-check it out if you haven't) was closed. It was sad. Hearing about how lively the place was during the 80's from fellow alums made me appreciate the potential it has.

In my opinion, here are the main factors that have contributed to its recent demise:

-Increasing percentage of the student population living in the new development soutwest of downtown off Tryon Road/Trailwood/Gorman-it used to be that lots of students lived closer to campus and in the neighborhood north of DH Hill library off Clark Ave. and its intersecting streets (Gardner, Pogue, Horne, etc.). This neighborhood has seen student housing pushed south, and many of the homes that were broken up into apartments are now under single family ownership. Now, NCSU students are commuting from farther away, and there's less pedestrian traffic from people who actually live off Hillsborough St.

-Intimately related to the above: rise of Glenwood South/Warehouse District as the party destination-since fewer students are living near Hillsborough St., there's more incentive to drive downtown (where they can take Lake Wheeler Road as a direct route to the heart of downtown) as there is to head to depressed Hillsborough St. even with its advantage of being close to campus. Downtown has become more of a destination as we've all seen, and it's going to require more than one or two new spots along Hillsborough to cull some of the downtown crowd.

-Relocation of the NCSU basketball team's home court to the RBC Center in the middle of fudgeing nowhere ('scuse my french)-wow, what a terrible sellout to economic interest on the part of NCSU. Reynolds was Cameron East to whoever's been to the two. Games were a HUGE draw to campus-many people parked along Hillsborough St. and walked right along/past it on the way to Reynolds. Now, all of that is in the middle of nowhere...what a waste.

Whoever posted that Western Blvd is now the major east-west thoroughfare is right-Hillsborough is not bad in rush hour spare the bottleneck section where it's two lanes (another thing affecting its fall from grace-it is avoided accordingly). I think that nicing it up for more pedestrian traffic is a good thing, and will hopefully bring some interest back. I only fear that it will become more of a family/craft oriented stretch than what it should be, a place for students to get their jollies and a good lunch/dinner spot for the university crowd.

PS-nice pictures, orulz

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In my opinion, here are the main factors that have contributed to its recent demise:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I believe all these factors are right on the money. The neighborhood to the north of Hillsborough (Clark St.) has gotten very gentrified lately. It's a very attractive and walkable neighborhood with Cameron Village close by, so it's managed to escape from the price range of most students. Instead of students living there, now the professors that are moving in. And you can guess what sort of effect that had on NCSU.

All the apartments like University House down on Tryon Road are absolutely terrible places to live. They're not cheap, and there's just as much (or more!)loudness and partying compared to apartments on Avent Ferry and Gorman, and there's absolutely nothing to do in the neighborhood except listen to your neighbors' blaring music at a keg party (or throw a keg party and blare some music of your own.) Such an environment has all the drawbacks of college living and none of the benefits. Tryon Road is becoming a pretty popular area to build these monotonous suburban developments but it's just a terribly boring place!

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I remember hearing noise about fixing up Hillsborough St when I started at NCSU in 1995, but it only seems like most spots have gotten worse. I rather like the idea of discouraging thru-traffic as much as possible. It's a college street and so most of the traffic should be destination-oriented and not people on their way to the courthouse pissed off.

It would be nice to see some more afordable residential appear around that area--that change alone would do wonders I'm sure. Some of those tacky storefronts need to go too.

A Hillsborough St business owner needs to be aware that he/she is catering to a crowd that is generally tight with money (even some of the professors! :lol: ). All the business along that corridor needs to think about low overhead--small space, small inventory, perhaps a satellite of a larger more profitable store in the area. There is room of course for a few unique destinations, and they will do quite well. Mitch's Tavern is an example (one of the first pics, with all the flags on the 2nd floor). I love Mitch's, and it has been there forever.

I do like the proposed streetscape changes to Hillsborough--the attractive center median, one lane per side with easier pedestrian access, better sidewalks, etc. I think that will go a long way in recharging the corridor.

orulz I like your idea of opening the front entrance to DH Hill. I worked at the library during the summer and fall of 1995 and the front entrance was actually used 8-5 on weekdays. I recall there being a pretty surprising amount of sidewalk activity during the day on Hillsborough St--seems much less today.

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What about SADLACK's!? Surely that urban oasis is worthy of mention here...

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What about SADLACK's!?  Surely that urban oasis is worthy of mention here...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

It certainly is an oasis...an oasis of what I don't know. ;) It is one of the few places on Hillsborough St. in the vicinity of NCSU's campus not to go the way of the dodo bird. And if the crowd out there almost every night is an indication, it won't be going anywhere soon. That's a good thing.

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Not sure if this is old news or not but i havent seen it posted on here. I was on the news14 website and found this story. News14 - Hillsborough Street

The interesting thing is theres not enough money to complete the whole project. But there will be 2 roundabouts built and according to the story once those are built they think private investment will follow because of the success of them.

I really think hillsborough should be re-done. It would be great if private investment did come through on this as well. I could only imagine what kind of unique place hillsborough can be.

Heres some info on the development of the street for those who havent seen this.

its a pdf file so be patient...

feasibility study

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Here's some pictures from the Hillsborough and the Stanhope area.

This is what most of the lot looks like right now (student parking:)

stanhope01.jpgstanhope02.jpg

There are actually a number of farly attractive little bungalows in this neighborhood:

stanhope03.jpgstanhope04.jpg

Apartment buildings and dorms (Whoops, forgot about University Towers)

stanhope05.jpgstanhope06.jpgstanhope07.jpgstanhope08.jpg

Some street scenes:

stanhope09.jpgstanhope10.jpgstanhope11.jpgstanhope12.jpgstanhope13.jpg

The most depressing storefront ever:

stanhope14.jpg

And in case you hadn't noticed it, plenty of visual blight to go around!

stanhope15.jpgstanhope16.jpgstanhope17.jpg

It's plain to see that this area needs a lot of work, but there are a few diamonds in the rough. I rather like the Carolina Equipment Company building, and the bungalows are neat too. Getting good angles for photos is nearly impossible because of all the power lines hanging all over the place! I doubt if anybody even knows what half of them are for anymore. The state of utter chaos above the street probably explans the $8 million estimate for burying/relocating utilities along the corridor.

I wouldn't shed a single tear if the buildings around Gumby's Pizza and Capital Comics got torn down. They're rather ugly, and they're too close to the street. I do hope that the businesses find somewhere on Hillsborough to move to, though.

Some people will get mad at me but I want the Brewery building torn down. I have some good memories of concerts there just like everyone else, but the building is ugly as sin - it and its front lawn of cracked concrete just need to disappear. What ever happened to that place anyway? I went away to Japan for a year, and when I got back the Brewery no longer existed. Although it seems something else has moved in of late...

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I can honestly say I've never noticed the powerlines before. I personally like Hillsborough Street. It's sort of refreshing, in an odd way, when one is so used to seeing the bland suburbia in other parts of town. I hope the street can be improved without becoming so upscale that students are priced out.

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