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Historic downtown Raleigh properties want ability to build up to 40 stories

Raleigh’s skyline is changing as more construction projects come to downtown

There are several large-scale projects currently under construction or near completion in downtown Raleigh, with many more expected to follow suit in the coming months.
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There are several large-scale projects currently under construction or near completion in downtown Raleigh, with many more expected to follow suit in the coming months.

The owners of a row of historic buildings in downtown Raleigh are asking the city for the ability to build up to 40 stories — a large increase from the current restrictions that cap most of the buildings at five stories.

The rezoning request encompasses much of the 200 block of Fayetteville Street in downtown, home to properties such as the Briggs Hardware building, the Boylan-Pearce building and the Kimbrell’s Furniture building.

The block — with many properties on the National Register of Historic Places — has been the focus of a rezoning battle just a few years back.

In 2015, Raleigh leaders questioned how high to set building heights along Fayetteville Street, some concerned about the historic character of the buildings, including the Briggs Hardware Building. The four-story building was built in 1874.

retoned display
A 2015 file photo of the Briggs Hardware building on Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh. Chuck Liddy file photo

The city council capped the height of the buildings in the block of Fayetteville, Martin, Hargett and Salisbury at five- and seven-stories instead of 40-stories.

In total, 10 properties are asking for that decision to be flipped:

  • 19 W. Hargett St.
  • 208 Fayetteville St.
  • 218 Fayetteville St. (Boylan-Pearce building)
  • 220 Fayetteville St. (Briggs Hardware building)
  • 222 Fayetteville St.
  • 224 Fayetteville St.
  • 228 Fayetteville St.
  • 230 Fayetteville St.
  • 234 Fayetteville St. (home to offices and a Subway restaurant)
  • 14 W. Martin St. (Neptunes Parlour, Kings, Garland)

The Boylan Pearce Building LLC, which is owned by political activist and Public Policy Polling owner Dean Debnam, sued the city in 2016 for placing a 5-story cap on his property at 216 Fayetteville St.

Just this week, Raleigh leaders met in closed session on Tuesday to discuss that court case, but took no action after the closed session.

Debnam sued on the grounds that the Raleigh City Council didn’t provide proper notice before approving the five-story cap, The News & Observer reported.

This week’s rezoning application was submitted by Morningstar Law Group attorney Mack Paul on behalf of the property owners. Paul, whose law firm has previously represented Debnam, could not immediately be reached to speak about the rezoning request because of travel.

The rezoning application includes a condition that requires preservation of any existing facades that front Fayetteville Street — except for the building at 222 Fayetteville St., which the application says has a false front. The application stresses that the buildings designated as local landmarks will “continue to have the protections afforded by such a designation.”

The request doesn’t specifically note whether any development plans are pending on the outcome of the application.

This story will be updated when more information becomes available

Zachery Eanes: 919-419-6684, @zeanes

Anna Johnson: 919-829-4807, @anna_m_johnson

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Zachery Eanes is the Innovate Raleigh reporter for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. He covers technology, startups and main street businesses, biotechnology, and education issues related to those areas.
Anna Johnson covers Raleigh and Wake County for the News & Observer. She has previously covered city government, crime and business for newspapers across North Carolina and received many North Carolina Press Association awards, including first place for investigative reporting. She is a 2012 alumna of Elon University.
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