State Government

The state is thinking of hiring a consultant to see what they should do with all their downtown assets.

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Good move on their part. Lots of underutilized land there, that I assume is untaxed since it’s government owned. Let’s hope the city will be able to see some revenue coming out of that land and there can be some added density.

This news comes from just outside the periphery of our focus area but I think many here will still find interesting. The just released Republican state budget is directing the DMV to leave its headquarters on New Bern Ave. The facility will need to be vacated no later than Oct. 1st 2020 with the agency moving into leased space outside of Raleigh.

The bill does not specify whether this move is permanent or temporary but if the agency does return the existing facility would likely need to be razed. The main building was built in 1957 and is full of asbestos. In 2011, the state determined it would cost $12.8 million to bring the DMV’s aging headquarters up to code and that even then the buildings would still be functionally obsolete.

Politicians representing the district are already lobbying for a return in order to preserve jobs. I would rather see this 5.5 acres set free for higher density residential/mixed use. The surrounding area is residential and, in the future, New Bern Ave. will be served by a BRT route.

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The DMV on New Bern really is in poor shape. They are large brick boxes and I don’t see any element worth saving here. One building has a substantial visible crack going down the side. Looks like it’s been given a good whack.

Of course the employees need to move for safety reasons but this will start the conversation about what to do with the property next. I expect politics here as I think you can argue that the jobs can be done elsewhere.

On a related topic, I hope the state or a future developer can rebuild with a mixed-use frame of mind. The site is on a future BRT corridor and all the surface parking there is a drain on the neighborhood character. It could integrate better with the surrounding urban form much better.

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In a similar vein another state government building on New Bern I’d like to see go is the Disabled American Veterans building at corner of Seawell Ave with New Bern Ave. Now I have nothing against veterans, I am a veteran, it’s just that this building/purpose is out of character with this predominately residential area.

The center section of development between New Bern and Edenton where this building resides has gravitated to more commercial use over the years but the original character was more residential with small shops. If you check out iMaps this state office was built of 4 previous residential lots. It was wrong to put this building here.

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Stew, great point. Let me also throw in the NC VA for foreign wars. Let’s map it.

  • Green is DMV, built in 1957 (larger building) and 1977 (smaller second building)
  • Orange is the NC Veterans of Foreign Wars office, built in 1973
  • Blue is the Disabled American Veterans office, built in 1980

and now with current zoning.

  • Blue is office mixed-use at 3-stories height limit, the DMV property is 4.
  • Pink is neighborhood mixed-use, 3 story height limit.

It gets complicated even further cause most of this area is within a Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District.

The boundary with the little house graphics (mostly upper left) is the New Bern - Edenton NCOD so more restrictions apply that lean more residential.

In my opinion, this NCOD should be dissolved in the New Bern - Edenton corridor if any of these properties want to see more office use and new office redevelopment when the time comes for these public institutions to update themselves. They will be served by a future BRT and new businesses can make their way along the corridor as well.

To the best of my knowledge, the zoning + NCOD may prove to be a big hindrance to this kind of redevelopment.

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Since we are discussing the New Bern Ave corridor here, one thing on my DTR wishlist is that the Federal Building (surrounded by New Bern, Bloodworth, Person, and Hargett) would be redeveloped with a more modern building for the US Govt on a portion (1/4th) of the property. That would open up the rest of the block for added density with a mix of uses (a 20 floor office tower on one corner, a few 15 story residential buildings with street front commercial spaces, hidden parking deck in the center of the block, etc) And this is property diagonally across from the soon-to-be renovated Moore Square. I know it is a pipe dream since it is owned by the US Federal Government, but it would be transformative for that part of DTR.

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Leo, it is very unfortunate that the boundaries of the New Bern - Edenton NCOD encompass that big parcel at SE corner of Swain and New Bern. This lot has so much potential and it will be a shame if the possibility for denser development is neutered for sake of the NCOD. Again, being on a future BRT line limiting density here is a bad call.

I read that one of the biggest contributors to Seattle’s congestion is overzealous protectionist zoning laws mandating single-family residential in far too many areas. It’s easy to see what result this has wrought. If Raleigh is to succeed in environment of anticipated huge growth we must accept higher density. Pick your poison Raleigh, either allow taller, more dense development or accept insufferable gridlock. I hate cars, I vote for the former.

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I pretty much agree.

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Ouch! They’re right though. Hey, all it takes is money to clean all that up.

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For State workers there will be a straw that breaks the camel’s back. This could be it if not resolved. As it stands no Wake County major hospitals are in-network yet. (the article is a ‘fact check’ but the situation is hospitals are not currently wanting to sign on as in network) Several of my teacher friends were picking my brain about places I’ve jokingly talked about moving to. On the surface ‘clear pricing’ sounds good but as the system stands now, State reimbursements are already lower than other group plans provide to health care providers. (Yes its all confidential but I have some drinking buddies who are doctors). The current regime has been beating on State employees from the top for a while now and internally the results are clear. External results are nuanced and piling up as time goes by. What will happen to NC and Raleigh if large numbers of the DMV, DOT, Teachers, and the like pull up and leave? Would that eventually cause say Citrix to leave downtown and Cisco to leave RTP because their employees have no confidence in educating their kids here? State Government underpins all of your hopes and dreams for DTR and you should be worried.

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It’s simple. Stress government and its employees to make it ineffective. Then replace state government with “for profit” companies owned by themselves and their buddies.
If you get people to quit, because you’ve made them miserable, then you don’t have to worry about severances, pensions, and the like. When you privatize just about everything, you can lower the taxes on the state’s wealthiest citizens again and make everything pay for play, which will financially punish the most financially humble among us.

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And they get richer being a shadow investor in the companies winning the contracts.
Worth noting also, is retirees have not had a real COLA during the entire bull market. There most certainly won’t be any in a bear market. Not receiving even a tiny one really changes the math on working towards a pension. They just about have me ready to bounce and take my accumulated contributions with me. Even buying bond funds gets me ahead by age 65 if inflation reaches about 4% or so.I almost have 20 years in and supervise a team of civil engineers. Not that I am that awesome, but replacing me wouldn’t be easy. Same goes for thousands of others.

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That is both deeply cynical and a not unrealistic playbook for the party currently in power.

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