Raleigh developer's big plans for Moore Square
City-owned land surrounding Moore Square in downtown Raleigh could be transformed to include affordable housing, a hotel and a potential grocery store.
Driving the news: City Council this week picked a proposal from Raleigh-based Loden Properties and its partners Northpond and Greystone for the two city properties, which are located on more than three acres of land to the east and south of the square.
- Loden has been especially active in Raleigh in recent years, working on projects on Glenwood South, the Longleaf Hotel and Gateway Plaza.
Why it matters: The two properties are perhaps the most valuable pieces of available land in the city's arsenal. City estimates put their value between $17 million to $25 million.
- Similarly to neighboring Durham, Raleigh has increasingly turned to leveraging city-owned lands to attract developments that include affordable housing as it hunts for creative ways to add more to its downtown core.
Catch up quick: The city has had control of the two properties since 2013 when it purchased Salvation Army-owned land. It asked developers earlier this year for proposals for the property that included affordable housing.
- It received nine competing offers.
- However, some activists have objected to the choice to open the land up to bids from developers instead of the city leading the affordable housing development itself.
Details: On the eastern property, Loden would build more than 500 apartments, with at least 160 of them targeted as affordable housing.
- Loden would also commit to recruiting a grocery store to the development and build a new permanent home for the Raleigh Rescue Mission — though that would require Loden to purchase additional land.
On the southern property, Loden said it would build a 160-room boutique hotel and partner with Raleigh Founded on a coworking space.
- The plan keeps the historic Esso Station building that faces the square.
- Additionally, staff revealed that Loden and Northpond have been in talks with the adjacent City Market property about purchasing or managing the retail spaces there.
What they're saying: Ken Bowers, deputy planning and development director for Raleigh, told the council Loden's proposal stood out for many reasons, including the fact it offered the most affordable units — around 40 affordable units per acre.
- Additionally, the hotel would really benefit City Market, which has seen many new vacancies in recent years, he argued.
- Council members, including Corey Branch, seemed impressed by the decision to include Raleigh Rescue Mission in the plans, an important partner for the city's response to homelessness.
The City Council approved the negotiations with Loden in a 6-1 vote.
- The lone no vote was outgoing council member David Cox — who said he felt the decision had been rushed.
- "I am not in favor of voting on this today and would want the new council to look at it," he said.
What's next: The council authorized city staff to begin final negotiations with Loden to develop the properties.
- Staff suggested negotiations could take between nine to 12 months before they return the final proposal to council for a vote.
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