The old Fayetteville street mall…
Takes me back
The old Fayetteville street mall…
Takes me back
It’s my fault for always going around the paywall. If only I had spent the hundred bucks for a membership, maybe they could’ve had an intern spend 1 minute online looking for a recent picture.
That doesn’t make you a jerk. It’s common sense. Putting a bunch of essentially homeless old people on what should be the most prominent street in Raleigh is a stupid waste.
Also, I started screaming at my phone screen, but I was looking at the comments to a story about Wahlburgers closing. So many complaints about not enough parking and homeless or sketchy people. I think a lot of people on this board want to believe Raleigh should eliminate parking and give every homeless person a hug and 20 bucks, but it’s not going to bring customers downtown.
I agree, to a certain extent. I’d also like to point out that Fayetteville St. should be the most prominent street in the entire state, it being both the commercial and ceremonial main street of the state capital. In that sense, perhaps it should be reserved for only the most celebrated of uses and the best of architecture.
Affordable housing isn’t glamourous, but there is a real need for it in Raleigh (and plenty of other places). While it doesn’t necessarily make sense to have it on the ritziest street in the city, in a beautiful old hotel to boot, one could argue that it is a noble use of the property, and that Fayetteville St. should have the same wide mix of uses — glamorous and otherwise — as any other downtown street should have. Diversity of uses, faces, and structures are what make places truly great (you can tell I’ve been reading a lot of Jane Jacobs lately), and affordable housing is undoubtedly a contributor to that.
Now, I’m not saying that the Sir Walter Raleigh should have ever been converted to affordable housing — it’s such an under-utilization — but unless there’s another ready site in downtown for these people to move I’m not sure that converting it back to a hotel is the right thing to do, morally or politically.
The free market speaks loud and clear. What is, is.
Downtown Raleigh isn’t having trouble drawing people. Though mediocre businesses fail, mostly the good ones do OK. The people in the comments section talking about homeless and parking are never going to change their mind and start coming downtown, period. Chasing after them is like chasing a shadow. Move the homeless shelters and build a 3000 space parking deck and they will still make the same complaints. Let them have their strip malls, North Hills, and sour grapes.
Maybe I am alone here, but I have almost never had any problems finding parking in DTR. Then again, I am usually not downtown during the workday, but on the times that I am, I still find a parking spot pretty easily. Then again, I’m also not afraid to walk a block or two to my destination.
Parking is only an issue for people who don’t want to pay or walk. Parking wasn’t even an issue on NYE, we found a spot on the street within a few blocks of the restaurant. Of course we had to walk past thousands of sketchy obnoxious people from the suburbs. Those people scare me more than the homeless.
That is a great reply!
This is the actual correct answer. Mostly people don’t want to pay to park. They think free parking is some sort of birthright. They choose cheaper suburban living, then demand more/wider roads, and free & ultra-convenient parking so that they can always easily drive to where they want to go. They create more traffic with their choices and then demand more roads to solve the problems, which only encourages more of the same sort development further and further out into the countryside.
I say double or triple the amount of housing downtown so that it becomes its own self sustaining ecosystem in support of the businesses, while creating a environment that lessens vehicular miles driven when we are in our cars, and eliminates those miles driven when we are on our own two feet.
A certain segment of the local population just doesn’t have much experience with urban environments, and will continue to complain about parking in DT Raleigh, the homeless and “thugs” in Durham etc. These people have no idea how easy it is to park downtown compared to most urban centers in the U.S. I would love to see them try and navigate NYC, LA, Chicago, DC, SF, or Philly.
Didn’t I read here that Durham offered up money for 21c and maybe the Durham hotel to be converted to hotels? I think that was money well spent and I wonder if they would’ve happened if the free market were the only factor?
What a waste. One of the few downtown jewels continues on in underwhelming fashion.
…hey, THAT could be Raleigh’s new motto: “Come, prepare to be Underwhelmed”
I agree that older, handicapped people who are qualified do need affordable housing. That said, The
Sir Walter is the last historic hotel left in Raleigh. What a missed opportunity to bring it back to its grandeur as a hotel. It could be quite a showcase. With the ballroom being divided up into offices, which is a crime, it’s evident the new owners don’t appreciate historical value. Hopefully in the far distant future, not in my lifetime, it can return to its former glory as a hotel.
Call me mean spirited if you like, but in 2019 in that location, it makes zero sense for that space to be used for affordable housing. Besides being the last landmark hotel property in the city and the possibilities that would bring if restored, there is a seedy-ish feeling about the current place. There has got to be another place, not on Fayetteville, to house these folks.
Is the affordable housing racket that lucrative?
For those lamenting this lost opportunity I don’t think the opportunity is lost at all. At this point in time the market just isn’t there to support anything else. Once the market is able to support more we’ll see more.
With the new owner paying $16.8 mil I doubt returns are that lucrative coming from affordable housing but clearly enough to pay the bills. Nobody wants to continually plow capital into a project long-term. I bet the new owner is anticipating strong appreciation over time and is looking to buy their time. Fortunately for them the current situation will buy the time for them.
As far as turning the ball room into offices that really does sound like a travesty. Hopefully it will be done in a way that makes it possible to revert back when the time is right. I attended a ball room event a few years back and got the distinct impression that rentals weren’t doing so well. As I said the new owners need to make enough current income to pay their current bills. I can’t really blame them for this decision. Office space pays a lot better.
Interesting view point, Stew. I appreciate your optimism.
If the ballroom rentals weren’t doing well, I’m not surprised. I didn’t even know there was a ballroom to rent until about two years ago. Not to mention that the main entrance to the Sir Walter feels unwelcoming, perpetually surrounded by people smoking just outside the doors. That’s a turnoff.
In other words, there has been little effort put into marketing it as an event space. I’m hoping the offices they put in there are simply a bunch of easily removed cubicles.
The whole situation seems unfortunate all the way around, starting the day someone decided to turn the Sir Walter into what it is now. Thankfully the building is still standing, and for now people still have a place to live. I hope someone starts thinking about a new location for senior affordable housing, because it’s likely just a matter of time on this one.
If you are going to be successful renting a ballroom type space, the experience has to start at the approach to the canopy and continue through the lobby, up the elevator, and into the corridor system leading to that ballroom. The current Sir Walter certainly dropped the ball on the ground level experience, both outside and inside.
From an optimistic point of view, the Sir Walter is registered on the National Register of Historic Places, so it’s certainly not going to be going away.