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cityboi

Raleigh city scenes

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The first picture shows clearly the co-existance of low-, mid- and high-rises. While a downtown core is usually associated with heights AND density, Raleigh has not "succeeded" completely in that area. However, it managed to keep some otherwise nice buildings, such as the former Bigg's Hardware store, and maintain some density from its days of glory.

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Thanks guys! Raleigh is actually more urban than I thought. I like those new housing developments that look like historic Charleston. Those homes really do look like they are old.

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Cityboi, the Charleston-like homes are very new. I live about 5 minutes to the West of that development. (For those who are familiar with Raleigh, those homes are East of the intersection of Six Forks Rd and Strickland Rd.) The sad thing is that if you cross Strickland Rd, North of where the "entrance" to that development is, you will enter a totally sprawled neighborhood... You know, the typical highly priced homes for those who desire to get behind the wheel and not having to walk, even though they are 5-10 minutes away from shopping destinations.

I also have to say that density in Raleigh is becoming more common lately, but this is a far cry from the true urban feel we all wish to see. Density and walking distance from shops is not enough, when one needs to cross major roads, where speed limits make crossing a road a Herculean task. Raleigh is currently working on fixing these problems, but most of the focus is on downtown development. The more urban feel can be achieved along Glenwood Ave (from Five Points to Hillsborough Str), and along Hillsborough Str (from downtown to Avent Ferry Rd). If this model succeeds then other major roads may follow (e.g. Western Blvd, Six Forks Rd and Wake Forest Rd).

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those are some nice pics, Raleigh's downtown looks a lot more dense then I thought it was. All it really needs is a couple of strategically placed buildings constructed on some high profile corners currently used for parking and a lot of people's perceptions about the town will change for the better.

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TheLakeLander, I am in total agreement with you. Raleigh's downtown does not lack density, but it DOES need some signature buildings, in key spots. Also, it lacks the number of buildings above 20 stories that could create a better image and improve the skyline. A few months ago, I read an article in a local [free] paper on urban and downtown planning; it was very sad to read someone's claim that a few 8-story buildings, covering the same area, can do the job of a 30-story skyscraper. That was one of the dumbest things I've heard, and such practice does nothing to improve density, or skyline. If we start limiting the height in the downtown area, then we can all "rest assured" that no major development/investment will ever be made in Raleigh. It is hard to fight this type of people with logical arguments.

Raleigh needs 3 buildings above 450ft and several ones between 350ft and 400ft. Sure, I would love to have 500+ft skyscrapers all over downtown, but if I need to be realistic, then I have to change my expectations. The question remains: How soon can we expect Raleigh's skyline to change? Quite frankly, not very soon. Neither Two Progress Plaza, nor the convention hotel, nor the anticipated RBC/Centura new headquarters will make the slightest difference in the skyline. True, they are all excellent investments and great efforts by Progress Energy and the City of Raleigh, but we need even larger projects to notice some difference. I would say 15-20 years from now we may see a couple of 450+ft skyscrapers and probably 2-3 buildings in the range of 350ft and 400ft. Is that soon enough? In my opinion, no. Density may improve, but not the height/skyline.

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I agree. If Raleigh had about 3 signature towers 35+ stories, Raleigh's skyline would be creeping up on Charlotte. You'd be surprise the difference 3 skyscrapers could make.

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The only thing that is standing in the way is that cursed W-S skyline. It boasts having the second tallest skyline in the state raleigh actually has more buildings.

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Raleigh probabally has the second most dense skyline in NC while Winston-Salem has the 2nd tallest.

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Quite honestly, it doesn't bother me at all that Winston-Salem has the 2nd tallest skyline, and Raleigh comes 3rd. I'd much rather see a "healthy" development pattern, where skyscrapers get build as needed. W-S built on speculative market, a tremendous burden for those who wanted to improve the vacancy rates; if I recall, W-S had pretty high vacancy rates in the past.

In an economy that decisions are based more and more on facts, and less on expectations, Raleigh's slow growth rate will pay off in the future. It has been mentioned so many times, but I will provide a list of the major projects for downtown Raleigh:

* Two Progress Plaza

* Convention Center

* Convention Hotel

Along with a few smaller ones (e.g. Former Hudson Belk), Downtown Raleigh is becoming a more desirable destination for many people. If RBC/Centura decides to relocate its HQ Downtown Raleigh (assuming a new sizeable tower gets built), then more developers will have success stories to base their decisions on, and more development will follow. I think that W-S went through Hell to bring more investments downtown, and it wasn't until the city government provided the lead, that more people followed. I may be wrong on this, and please correct me. Can anyone provide a little [recent] history on Winston-Salem's downtown and the future [major] projects under way? I am truly happy to see W-S regaining its past glory, as ALL major NC cities make significant investments within their downtown areas.

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Unless someone demolishes RTP, Raleigh will continue to have problems developing a decent skyline. I'm glad that Progress made such a committment to downtown. Without RTP, Raleigh would probably have a skyine rivaling Charlotte's.

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49er, I must agree with you. RTP contributed a lot to the [economic] growth of the area, but I am sure that those who first envisioned RTP never had in mind the damage that RTP eventually caused in the urban fabric of the Triangle. The only thing that could be done is to create denser developments along major roads, in RTP, and put a stop on ANY further clear cutting. They should also prohibit non-research firms occupying any space in that area. If RTP is about research, then what in the earth a non-research firm need a space in that area for?

On the other hand, the sole purpose of having RTP right in the middle of the Triangle is to benefit all major centers in the area. I cannot tell whether Raleigh's skyline could have given Charlotte's (or Winston-Salem's) skyline any competition, but without leadership that has vision, Raleigh could have gone downhill, one way, or another. Progress Energy's investment is a major step forward, but without the presence of other major employers (e.g. IBM, SAS), downtown, any effort will be an uphill battle. Raleigh's skyline would benefit from high-rises between 20-25 stories high, but in the long-run we'll need to see some major activity. How much RTP truly hurts the downtown areas of Raleigh and Durham is a bit unclear, but the biggest damage appears to have come from previous local governments, which put too much emphasis to the outer city, thus neglecting the center.

As a side note, county, city & state governments need additional space; isn't this a great opportunity for 1-2 more towers? If we add NCSU in the equation, the short-term investment cycle can change with an even happier tone. While the state already has the government complex, where most state employees work, they could easily build another 15-story tower, similar to the Archdale Bldg, and host many employees who are currently scattered around the city. NCSU could very easily expand its operations by building a Business, or Technology School within the center. Their urban design center could very easily fit there. These are just speculations, and I do not suggest that they make sense 100%, but there must be something the major employers here can do. Once we start with a few high-rises (15-25 stories), it will be much easier to attract larger businesses downtown. This may sound like a dream, but so did the new Progress Energy HQ, and the convention hotel. If RBC/Centura ends up here, as it sounds like, then a third tower is going to be under way before we realize it. Maybe NCSU is waiting for the light-rail connection with downtown before they make a move, but I still bet a lot on them.

To summarize, creating a decent skyline has little to do with heights, at least in the case of Raleigh. While we all agree that 2-3 skyscrapers above 450ft are necessary to boost Raleigh's image, a few "infill" towers may have a very similar effect, letting the currently two tallest ones dominate the skyline for a few more years. In my opinion, Wilmington Str and Salisbury Str need some high-rises to eliminate the image of the small-town, that has been haunting this city for the last 20 years. If I hear another 2-3 towers being [at least] announced for downtown, in the next 2 years, then I will be satisfied, otherwise I will have no doubt that Raleigh will have to make some drastic and dramatic changes to survive as a major city in the Carolinas. RTP's role is good, but only if limited to what its founders envisioned.

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Quite honestly, it doesn't bother me at all that Winston-Salem has the 2nd tallest skyline, and Raleigh comes 3rd. I'd much rather see a "healthy" development pattern, where skyscrapers get build as needed. W-S built on speculative market, a tremendous burden for those who wanted to improve the vacancy rates; if I recall, W-S had pretty high vacancy rates in the past.

In an economy that decisions are based more and more on facts, and less on expectations, Raleigh's slow growth rate will pay off in the future. It has been mentioned so many times, but I will provide a list of the major projects for downtown Raleigh:

* Two Progress Plaza

* Convention Center

* Convention Hotel

Along with a few smaller ones (e.g. Former Hudson Belk), Downtown Raleigh is becoming a more desirable destination for many people. If RBC/Centura decides to relocate its HQ Downtown Raleigh (assuming a new sizeable tower gets built), then more developers will have success stories to base their decisions on, and more development will follow. I think that W-S went through Hell to bring more investments downtown, and it wasn't until the city government provided the lead, that more people followed. I may be wrong on this, and please correct me. Can anyone provide a little [recent] history on Winston-Salem's downtown and the future [major] projects under way? I am truly happy to see W-S regaining its past glory, as ALL major NC cities make significant investments within their downtown areas.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Actually, Winston-Salem's skyline was not built speculatively but rather the majority of the towers were built to house the headquarters of specific corporations. The R.J. Reynolds building and RJR Plaza building have always only held RJR offices. The Wachovia buildings from the 60s and 90s were both built with the bank taking the bulk of the space when each building was completed. Similarly, the Integon Insurance (now GMAC) was built to house the expanded need of the company. I'm not sure about the Nissen Building. The BB&T headquarters was built speculatively, but the law firm Womble Carlyle Sandridge and Rice took a lot of space early on before Southern National Bank and ultimately BB&T headquarted there. The new building on West Fourth Street was speculative to a certain extent even though Wachovia and Womble Carlyle agreed to lease the bulk of the space before construction began. That was before the merger with First Union and the departure to Charlotte.

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