Raleigh city leaders not yet ready to sign off on 40-story tower

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- It was supposed to be the big decision night where the Raleigh City Council would finally vote on whether to rezone the property that sits as the gateway to downtown's north front for what could be the city's tallest skyscraper to date.

Instead, of the allowed 12 stories, Kane Realty's new residential-office and retail skyscraper could tower as high as 40 stories tall.

"We feel like this is the right spot for this project," Kane Realty representative and former city councilman Bonner Gaylord told the council.

The Kane team has countered criticism that the project adds to Raleigh's affordable housing crunch by writing a $1 million check to the city's affordable housing fund.

But why not simply include affordable units inside the complex? The developer told the council that the city could have a bigger impact by using the Kane money.

"That million dollars will actually go 10 to 25 times further if it's deployed through the city's funds than through an inclusionary component," Gaylord said.

In nearby Glenwood South, the neighborhood association presented a survey to the council showing support for the project from residents and businesses was 78 percent.

"The results of this survey express the overwhelming support for the zoning proposal," said Larry Miller, president of the Glenwood South Neighborhood Collaborative.

But others, like Bob Geary, the lone member of the city planning commission to vote no on the project, expressed big concerns about poorer residents being priced out.

"Go to churches, go to community centers, go to where people in actual need of affordable housing are. Ask what they would do with this high-rise project," Geary said to a loud scream of cheers and applause.

Neighbors like Sally Hale expressed her fears that the high rise would overburden an already-clogged Peace Street corridor.

"Ten stories is fine. Forty, 50 stories, or whatever the gateway proposal is, just seems to be extreme," Hale said.

In the end, the city council wanted more time to mull it over.

"I would prefer to leave the hearing open and have a little bit more time," said At-Large Councilmember Russ Stephenson.

The council wants the Kane team to return next month with a more finalized proposal, including analysis on the project traffic impact.

"Our preference would be to go ahead and close it out. But if you'd like more time, we're happy to work with that," Gaylord told the council.

The zoning hearing is scheduled to resume at the council's next meeting on Aug. 20.
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