Downtown Raleigh rezoning request could mean more skyscrapers

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The owners of some of downtown Raleigh's oldest and most recognizable buildings are hoping the city will give them the option to one day build skyscrapers while preserving the history of the existing buildings

The rezoning request, submitted by a group of owners of 10 properties on and adjacent to the 200 block of Fayetteville St. that are currently capped at five stories, asks for rezoning to allow development up to 40 stories.

The application included a caveat that the owners would preserve the facades of buildings that are on the national register of historic properties or have been designated as local landmarks, including the Odd Fellows Building and Briggs Hardware.

Mack Paul, a partner at Morningstar Law Group, is representing the property owners who he said were negatively affected when the city council reduced the cap on the development of their buildings from 40 stories to about five as part of its Unified Development Ordinance.

"Even though they didn't plan to build taller immediately, by reducing that height, it was reducing value of the property," Paul said.

The rezoning application states the proposal would enhance the downtown area as a vibrant, mixed-use center, supporting downtown retailers by increasing the number of downtown residents, workers, and/or overnight visitors.

It also suggests it would support the success of nearby Union Station and the recently improved Moore Square/GoTriangle bus facility.

In order to protect the historic buildings, the owners propose preserving the building's facades and build on top of the existing buildings with a minimum 10-foot building stepback.

"A fairly modern construction type like a glass and steel that has a nice contrast with the masonry of the historic buildings," Paul said.

Paul said at a required meeting with their Fayetteville Street neighbors that neighboring property owners were mostly in favor of the rezoning proposal, asking only to preserve the character of Raleigh's main street while improving the variety of quality of retail.

The group will be meeting with more stakeholders in June and don't expect their request to go before the city council until August.
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