The Sky is the Limit for Downtown Raleigh
July 23, 2019
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Downtown Raleigh is changing. Thanks to a surge in demand from both major developers and high-profile technology companies, the downtown Raleigh skyline is expected to soar to new heights over the next decade. A sizable number of projects are currently under development in the city’s center as students, recent graduates and other professionals flock to the downtown area to live, work and play. Billions of dollars are being poured into the state capitol as the need for housing, office space and mixed-use developments continue to rise.

Fast-Growing Metropolitan Area

Over the past few years, Raleigh has become one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolitan centers. Its proximity to the bustling Research Triangle Park—the largest research park in the United States—along with its status as the state capitol has allowed the area to grow by more than two percent annually for more than a decade. Both population and job growth in Raleigh have far outpaced the national average, creating an increased interest in the creation of world-class real estate assets in the heart of the city. Because of rising land costs, many projects will feature multi-story buildings that will further transform the city’s skyline while preserving the historic structures already in place.

Current and Proposed  Mixed-Use Developments

New projects in downtown Raleigh are fueled by three key points: location, walkability and design. An influx of proposed mixed-use developments all work to combine those three elements to create opportunities for innovation and connectivity.

Developing the Downtown Warehouse District: Several property owners in Raleigh’s downtown Warehouse District have filed a rezoning request that would transform a block of aging buildings into a mixed-use space with buildings up to 20 stories tall. Both HQ Raleigh and the Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh (CAM) will be staying on the block. Potential uses for the remainder of the 1.9-acre parcel will include a mix of residential units, a boutique hotel, upscale housing and street-level retail, along with options for public gathering spaces.

Re-imagining Nash Square: Since 2015, the city of Raleigh has put a priority on remaking Nash Square into a connector between the planned Union Station rail hub and Moore Square. With that goal in mind, a California-based investment firm purchased a 3.3-acre parcel on South McDowell Street—the former home of The News & Observer—for $22 million in order to transform the property into a mixed-use complex. The first phase of the project—called The Nexus—will be a 20-story tower comprised of 15 floors of office space and five floors dedicated to parking. The next phases of the project will include two 20-story buildings and a 13-story hotel.

The Changing Face of Peace Street: Two proposed developments are set to change the appearance of the Peace Street sector, an area that was once the site of a 1960s-era urban renewal project. The Peace and West development will transform this quiet corner of downtown into a bustling community at the edge of the downtown epicenter. One project—helmed by a Raleigh-based developer—will feature a 12-story, mixed-use property with a Publix as its anchor. The second phase of that project would have a 225,000-square-foot office tower. The area is also scheduled to get a new 16-acre city park and a greenway project.

Raleigh Union Station Soars to New Heights: In 2018, GoTriangle won a $20 million federal BUILD grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and hopes to use those funds to construct a unique bus transfer facility. This project—better known as RUS Bus—will incorporate a mixed-use, high-rise building (approximately 40 stories) above the bus terminal that would feature office and retail space, a hotel and residential units (including an affordable housing component). The aim of this project is to enhance bus connectivity and provide opportunities for new economic, job and housing opportunities in the downtown community.

Towering Projects on Glenwood South: Glenwood South has become an entertainment center over the past 10 years, and now a Maryland-based developer is hoping to turn the south end of Glenwood Avenue into a true destination. One Glenwood is already open at the intersection of Glenwood Avenue and Hillsborough Street. This 219,500-square-foot tower features both Class A office and retail space close to Union Station and North Carolina State University. The 10-story, 235,000-square-foot second tower is currently under construction close by. The two towers will eventually be joined by a lush courtyard featuring a varied mix of restaurants and coffee shops that are inviting to both residents and visitors.

Sprawling Stadium Project: A stadium-anchored, mixed-use development is currently under consideration for downtown Raleigh. Known as the Downtown Raleigh Entertainment District, the project features a $180 million, open-air, 20,000-seat stadium in the heart of the only large city in the country without a major league sports field. The stadium would act as the anchor for the 55-acre project that includes an additional $1.9 billion in surrounding office and retail space, as well as restaurants, hotels and luxury apartments. The stadium would be home to Raleigh’s professional men’s soccer team, as well as the North Carolina Courage, the city’s professional women’s soccer team. Over the next 15 years, this entertainment epicenter could generate upwards of $3.8 billion in economic impact for Wake County.

Focus on the Future

The downtown Raleigh landscape has changed significantly over the years, and that trend is expected to continue. Firms are drawn to Raleigh because of its highly educated workforce and the city’s excellent quality of life. Add to that the metropolitan area’s diversified economic base, low business cost and relatively affordable housing market, and it’s no wonder that companies like Pendo, IBM and Amazon have chosen to invest in the future of Raleigh.

Interested in commercial real estate investment in North Carolina? Ground + Space is a leading commercial real estate brokerage firm that specializes in single-tenant and retail NNN investments. Contact us today to find out more about our current listings!

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