Raleigh council delays vote on Hillsborough Street apartments

ccampbell@newsobserver.comJune 6, 2014 

RALEIGH The city council on Tuesday heard from opponents and supporters of a proposed student apartment building on Hillsborough Street, but it delayed a vote on the project.

More than a dozen people spoke out during a public hearing on the seven-story, 24-unit apartment building that would replace Two Guys Pizza, The Keg bar and other two storefronts.

Opponents, including representatives from several neighborhood groups, said seven floors is too tall. Supporters of the project – who outnumbered opponents on the speakers’ list – say it will help Hillsborough Street by adding student residents and paving the way for increased transit.

Restaurateur Kevin Jennings said the Hillsborough Street Merchants Association voted unanimously to back the development.

Evan Brigham said immediate neighbors of the site support the seven-story proposal. “Dense development like this supports transit, which we desperately need in Raleigh,” he said.

But Paul Blankinship, whose Vanderbilt Avenue home backs up to the Hillsborough Street commercial district, worries that more tall buildings could follow. “I don’t want to wake up in the morning and look out my rear window and see seven or eight stories of eyes looking down at me,” he said. “The privacy of my abode will be greatly diminished.”

Supporters argue that the Two Guys location won’t set a precedent because it backs up to West Raleigh Presbyterian Church. The church’s leaders support the development, in part because developers have offered a 700-square-foot space in the building for the church’s outreach efforts.

“The developers listened to our concerns and made some significant compromises,” church member John Baker said. “We also welcome the students that would occupy the new building.”

City council members say they want to see the offer of free space attached to the rezoning application in writing. Mack Paul, an attorney for the developers, said that offer will be formally added before the council votes in the coming weeks.

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

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