307/309/311/313 West Martin Street Rezoning

This is what the owner of the little white building on Davie across from the Pit and facing the Trolley Pub’s evil den (or is it lair?) is doing.The parcel on the back end of the one at the top of the post. Rumour has it, he has been offered a hefty sum on multiple occasions but refuses to sell. I’m not sure if he also owns the surface lots on the corner of Davie and Dawson but if he does he’s raking in money and probably has no impetus to sell. It sucks because it’s a great property ripe for development.

1 Like

In a world where many people’s retirement outlook is uncertain at best, I wouldn’t blame him for holding onto that property. We can hope that the retirement comes sooner rather than later.


We need split rate for property taxes, where unimproved land is taxed at a high rate and improvements are taxed at a low rate. Institute it in a revenue neutral manner so that most peoples’ property tax bills stay more or less the same except for downtown parking lots where the bill should go up by a factor of 100. That will encourage these people to … to borrow a term from @daviddonovan in another thread, either s*** or get off the pot. Maybe this is a mathematical impossibility but a guy can dream, can’t he?


I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot recently as well. (It’s really fun to discover a community where you learn that you are not the only person who spends time thinking about what would be the optimal way to assess property taxes.)

You can tax land at either its improved or unimproved value. Taxing land at its improved value creates a disincentive to develop land: if you develop it, its value will go up (good for the owner), but the owner will then have to pay higher taxes on it (obviously less good). In a few marginal cases, this could lead an owner to decide that a project isn’t worth it.

But in most U.S. cities, the far bigger impediments to development are NIMBYism and zoning restrictions, not tax liability. So taxing land at its improved value provides a sweetener for the community: developing land means more tax revenue for the city, and so everyone else benefits through lower taxes or better services, or some combination. That’s an extremely useful talking point for overcoming NIMBY opposition to things.

Everything’s in the execution, of course, but a split rate might enable you to get the best of both worlds. The Economist actually wrote a really good story about this very issue a few months ago. One delightful anecdote from the article is that Hawaii instituted a split-rate tax in 1965 that kicked off a building boom that inspired Joni Mitchell’s famous song, Big Yellow Taxi. (“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”) The Economist of course capped this anecdote with the subhead “Big yellow taxes,” which is the sort of subhead I dream about writing. :smiley:

The time may be right for land-value taxes | The Economist


I think the issue is that he’s already retired and waiting to pass it off to his family but I don’t remember exactly. I think I had the discussion about this building over two years ago so there’s a pretty good chance I’m getting facts wrong or conflating them with details about other properties :slight_smile:

1 Like

I went to the Central CAC meeting tonight and the presentation was a good one.

The developer here is Clearscapes themselves and they are 100% intent on keeping the historic, brick buildings in place. The project really doesn’t even touch them at this point. The meeting tonight was for feedback only and no CAC vote took place. The rezoning request was submitted last Friday so it should pop up on the Wire Service soon.

The quick hits:

  • 8-10 story residential building
  • 2 floors of parking, partially underground (more on that below)
  • Public open space between the new building and the brick buildings along Martin
  • Access to the open space would be the existing alley betwen the buildings and a new stair to Commerce Place

Here’s my rough drawing of the site from memory.

Along Commerce Place, there would be stairs going up to the open space. The parking deck entrance, along with a residential lobby would also be here too.

Now, if you know the landscape here, this surface parking lot sits almost a full-story higher than Martin Street and even Commerce Place is much lower. You can sort of see that here in Google Maps.

That “mound” that is the surface parking lot will be “scooped out” and most of the parking will go there. The ground floor of the building will actually be half parking, half lobby/office/creative space (looking at the open space) with the residential units starting above that.

The units will be set back a bit from the ground floor parking/commercial space and with the amount of parking they can do, it limits the number of units and therefore height to be around 8-10 floors.

The CAC will possibly vote at their next meetings in early 2019 where it will then move to planning commission so this is one to watch for 2019.


Sounds good. Thanks for the update leo

That sounds great. Keep the historic brick buildings in the Warehouse District and add a small 8-10 story building for density and height? Yes please!


This, in my opinion, is exactly the type of development that should be encouraged in the Warehouse District in order to preserve its character. Small-scale projects that aren’t so tall as to be out of scale, and that add density to the neighborhood (especially an underutilized gem such as Commerce Pl.) can help to maintain the scale and industrial vibe of the District while adapting it to modern use. I also really love the public open space that will be connected with the alley and staircase — from my imagination it sounds like a slightly “hidden” space that can only be experienced as a pedestrian, and adds charm and character to the neighborhood. I’m very excited to hear more about this project and hope that it lives up to our expectations.

@dtraleigh, did the plans call for the new residential building on only the portion of the site in orange, or will it also cover the rest of the parking lot until the southern property line? The orange polygon on your image looks very small for a residential building.


This is all a very positive outcome so far.

It was very conceptual so dont take my drawing to the bank. IIRC, the building should go all the way to the southern property line, minus that sliver piece of course.

1 Like

We keep the cool frontage buildings, and get a sweet new ~10 story midrise? Sold!


This is awesome! Thank you so much for sharing this information. Encouraging to see local developers finding ways to preserve the character of what will (IMO) be one of the most iconic / unique urban locations in Raleigh while adding density. A total win!


As someone that likes a few more tall buildings, excellent low level development will always trump a vanilla tall office tower. This is an exciting project to see come to fruition.

1 Like

Agree 100% that this is great. As an added positive thought, I’ve long thought Commerce was a great quiet lane tucked in behind the bustle and imagined various scenarios such as this.


I agree completely. I was thinking earlier how if parvo or whatever gets a building going up just from their own merits it would be great. Maybe the Edison or zonehting can be reworked to be even taller. Or whatever building they choose. And then I realized I would like all of the office buildings to go forward way more than one tall building

TBJ has picked up on it:


Nothing new, really, but the article does highlight Schuster’s commitment to preserving the buildings on Martin St.


The rezoning for this project hits the planning commission on Jan 29.



This project popped up on this Thursday’s agenda for the planning commission Committee of the Whole.

Z-36-18 W. Martin Street, at the southeast corner of its intersection with Commerce Pl, being Wake County PIN 1703575747. Approximately 0.99 acres are requested by 4DH Partnership to be rezoned.

Current zoning: Downtown Mixed Use-5 Stories-Shopfront (DX-5-SH)
Requested zoning: Downtown Mixed Use-12 Stories-Shopfront-Conditional Use (DX-12-SH-CU)

Revised zoning conditions were submitted on March 18, 2019 which require existing historic structures to remain except in the event of disaster, require buildings replacing historic structures to be similar in mass and materials, limit height to five stories in the area of the existing structures, require a covenant to be recorded which requires review by the RHDC COA committee for new construction above historic structures, require exterior materials for new construction visible from the right of way to match the surrounding historic character, prohibit certain uses, require a dog waste station, require 50% of Outdoor Amenity area to be open to the public, and require screening of structure parking.

The request is consistent with the Future Land Use Map.
The request is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.

The Central CAC voted on February 4 to recommend approval of the case if conditions were offered that required outdoor amenity area to be open to the public, required screening of parking, allow the Group Home use, and require the outdoor amenity area to include amenities for pets. The vote was nine in favor, two against, and one abstention (9-2-1).