Seaboard Station to undergo sea of change

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Raleigh's Seaboard Station is on the market as its partial owner, William Peace University, is interested in selling part of the property.

The university said it plans for the property to be converted into space for residential and commercial space, including a Harris Teeter.

"As long as I'm ground floor, I don't care," said business owner Abbott Tompkins. He owns Hunt & Gather, a store that sells fine art and home furnishings. "I've got to have the windows. That's my main sale point. More people, more money. More traffic, more money."

The area, which sits just north of downtown Raleigh, is already experiencing significant growth with a nearby Publix being constructed and work on the Peace Street bridge.

"As we've watched the development of the North End, we've felt the market timing for us was really perfect for us to recognize the strategic investment we had and to take some good returns to turn Seaboard over to a great owner who's going to capsulate what we want to see over there," said William Peace University President Dr. Brian Ralph.

The university purchased the property at the location five years ago.

"This has been one of the best moves I ever made, " Tompkins said. "It's new. It's fun. We've basically got the same square footage and we're up 23 to 25 percent from our sales on Glenwood Avenue."

He is excited about what's to come for the space and equally for how parking will be affected. The majority of shoppers are usually unable to find parking adjacent to the store or restaurant they are visiting."

In a Tuesday statement, the university wrote, "William Peace University purchased Seaboard Station as a strategic investment and as a way to enhance the local community surrounding the University. Since that time, Seaboard Station has become recognized as a thriving retail center and we have seen a resurgence of the north end of downtown Raleigh."

Tompkins was unable to attend a Tuesday meeting geared for tenants of Seaboard Station but welcomes the change. Zoning for the area allows for buildings to go as high as seven stories. Tompkins interprets that, along with communication he's receiving from WPU and its partner Trademark Properties, that the buyer will build vertically and add residential space.

This idea fits in with the university's desire for more student housing. "The demographics on age will not really matter to us. It's totally versatile in here," Tompkins added. The reputation of Seaboard Station and the restaurants here and us, we being the anchor store here, is just unquestionable. It just expands on its own."

Once the property sells, WPU said the sale will enable the university to "generate a strong return on its investment and strategically direct those resources into the endowment as well as additional facilities, programs and opportunities for students."

Joshua Logan, owner of Logan Trading Co., operates adjacent to the properties being sold. His business is not part of the sale. Logan shares Tompkins' thoughts on seeing parking improve and keeping the center unique.

Logan's takeaway from Tuesday's meeting is the university will officially open the bidding process "at the beginning of April" and select a buyer whose plans will be represent what the university has in mind for future development.

In a Wednesday release, William Peace University wrote to ABC11 "Seaboard Station will be sold as an operating retail center, as it is today. All tenants will remain according to their leases and that has been an important commitment on the part of WPU. The future owner of Seaboard will pursue any redevelopment according to their investment plans."

"If the new ownership maintains a (William Peace University) kind of standard here, I don't see any kind of problem at all," Tompkins said.

"We've certainly at different points talked about what would be nice over there, and I think the idea of an expanded retail mix is going to be really important. I think that will be important to the North End and especially to our student body as we're continuing to grow," said William Peace University President Dr. Brian Ralph.

No sales price has been announced yet.

ABC11's Dejuan Hoggard is investigating what local residents want to see happen with the space; check back for updates.
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