Stone’s Warehouse draws six development suitors

ccampbell@newsobserver.comApril 14, 2014 

— City leaders are weighing six different development proposals for the long-abandoned Stone’s Warehouse a few blocks southeast of downtown.

A city council committee took a first look at the proposals Tuesday, which range from a charter school to condominiums to a grocery store. Some, however, haven’t proposed to keep any of the original building, which carries a historic designation and was once home to Carolina Coach Garage and Shops.

Council members said they’d like a new development that maintains some of that historic architecture. “A historic building shouldn’t be buried inside the project,” Councilman Russ Stephenson said.

They’ll also likely prioritize the proposals that reflect the city’s Comprehensive Plan goal for the neighborhood – two- to three-story mixed-use development.

“A lot of folks participated in the Comprehensive Plan,” Councilman Thomas Crowder said. “I think we need to be very faithful to that unless we have some extenuating circumstances.”

If the council chooses a project with a residential component – and only the charter school doesn’t have one – Crowder wants to ensure affordable housing units are included. “Personally I’m a big fan of mixed income,” he said.

The new owner of the property at Davie and East streets isn’t likely to keep the site’s current tenant – a Rex Healthcare senior health clinic, considered a key amenity for the neighborhood. Each developer indicated that the city’s current lease rate to Rex is too low, though some said they’ll help Rex move nearby.

The city sought new development proposals after plans to build affordable apartments for artists fell through. The proposed Raleigh Arts Village didn’t win $4.1 million in low-income housing tax credits needed to fund a renovation.

The council committee asked the six developers to submit refined plans based on the priorities mentioned Tuesday.

Here’s what the initial six proposals involved:

Grocery and apartments: Developer Jim Anthony wants to build a 7,000-square-foot grocery store and open-air market, with 105 apartments over three floors surrounding a courtyard with a movie screen wall. The proposal would satisfy a longstanding need for a grocery store close to downtown.

Charter school: Developer Greg Hatem’s Empire Properties is eyeing the site for Exploris Charter School’s expansion. The development could also have room for some retail or office space. The city recently rejected Exploris’ bid to temporarily use the old Salvation Army building at Moore Square when it adds elementary grades next year. But the school idea doesn’t fit the Comprehensive Plan, which could get Exploris knocked out of contention.

Coop market, business incubator and homes: Kelvin Dumas and Fertile Ground Food Coop want to build a “central market food coop” with retail and business incubation space, 72 apartments and 24 townhouses.

Tear it down and build condos: The only proposal that doesn’t keep part of the historic warehouse comes from John Florian, which would tear down the building and construct 80 condos and townhomes. Florian is the developer behind The Lincoln apartments being built a few blocks away.

Grocery, “food collaborative” and housing: One of the city’s biggest affordable housing nonprofits, DHIC, is working with Raleigh Restoration Group on the proposal for a 9,900-square-foot grocery, a 15,500-square-foot “food collaborative” and incubator with 20-25 workforce and market-rate townhouses.

Offices and homes: TND Partners – led by developer Bob Chapman of Durham – is proposing a 14,900-square-foot coworking space similar to HQ Raleigh with up to 28,000 square feet of office space, up to 39 apartments and 13 row houses.

Campbell: 919-829-4802; Twitter: @RaleighReporter

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