“The Fairview” In Raleigh’s Five Points

Changing Five Points

June, 13, 2008, by Mark

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PLEASE SEE THE UPDATE FOR THIS PROJECT HERE

PLEASE SEE THE UPDATE FOR THIS PROJECT HERE


There has been considerable protest to Bobby Lewis’ development in Raleigh’s Five Points neighborhood: The Fairview. The City has had their own set of bones to pick, including height, streetscape, and parking requirements; and the neighborhood is concerned with those and other issues—property values, drainage, scale, and historical value, among other things. The citizens of this area, as well as City officials, have great influence over the fate of this crucial Raleigh hub; let’s hope we can work together to make the right decisions.

The site plan submitted to the city shows a four story building, but rumor has it, the original 4-story design will be scaled back to 3 stories, to comply with the cities’ requests. Site plans are under review by the city, and there are ongoing neighborhood discussions concerning the project, the next of which is scheduled for July 9. More information here.

The building will be close to the street with retail on the street side, and covered parking behind, on the ground floor. The above stories are residential condominiums—42 units.

It’s clear that these recognizable houses on Fairview are going down. Something is going to be built there. It’s up to the citizens to decide what that is. If this project is repeatedly shot down, the neighborhood runs the risk of the land being sold. Who knows what the next guy would do? A stand-alone office building, pulled back from the street, and surrounded by asphalt?

Previous Article HERE

site plan courtesy of City of Raleigh








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  • Jim
    06/13 05:56 PM

    The sad thing is that there is so much valuable/desirable (at least in my view) extant street level retail already there that’s just tied up in antique stores or dry cleaners.  It’s hard to imagine this project in that neck of the woods.  The design totally outside the character of the neighborhood there.  In the words of Dave Chappelle, four thumbs down.

  • v-arch
    06/13 08:25 PM

    i agree with Jim.  Honestly the retail there already seems to struggle.  Why ruin the existing context with something new and out of scale for more space that is not needed?  Totally out of character and scale with existing streetscape.  I hope this project gets shot down…or something more reasonable and smart evolves.

  • Gerawleighgist
    06/14 02:06 AM

    “Who knows what the next guy would do? A stand-alone office building, pulled back from the street, and surrounded by asphalt?”

    We’ve heard this line over and over. How many half-assed projects have been approved simply because the neighbors were too scared of what somebody else might do? Why do neighborhoods have to negotiate with developers from a position of fear? Why can’t the city get some cojones and put neighborhoods in a position of confidence?

  • BG
    06/14 02:11 PM

    I feel that the infrastructure of that area is in need, however Im not onboard with blatant disregard for neighbors. What about a park with some trees and plants where folks can gather in the afternoons and evenings. Grab a big ol piece of cake from Hayes Barton and head to a bench under a tree?

  • BG
    06/14 02:15 PM

    Almost forgot…. keep up the great work and information on this website. It’s my homepage now!

  • JZ
    06/14 03:28 PM

    I’ve always felt that Five Points could afford to get denser.  Mostly, perhaps, right along Glenwood where the bank, gas stations (two of them?! really!?) and audio shop has worked to undermine any sense of coherence and definition the district could have.

    When the Pig left we lost an important cornerstone to the Village-like area.  A grocery, a great bookstore, a housing component.  They all could work to better distinguish Five Points as destination and a focal point for the immediate community of residents. 

    I don’t want to suggest that The Fairview is a perfect solution by any means, but its location is not entirely unreasonable.  The question for me is whether it can act as a generator for further investment in the areas that are weakest (including streetscape and lighting improvements!) to mature the district further.

  • Betsy
    06/14 04:51 PM

    Five Points is a super example of an area that could really benefit from having a good form-based plan with form-based zoning applied to implement it. 

    That way, the stakeholders could get an understanding of what acceptable change looks like and acts like; then development could proceed without a long, drawn-out rezoning fight every time a change is proposed. 

    Instead, Raleigh continues to apply an outdated rezoning & site-plan approval approach, where the developer submits [more than he wants] in expectation of getting [something less], and the neighbors have to commit themselves to god only knows how many months of protest at public hearings.  In this process, the final decision hinges not on the quality of the development as an addition to the neighborhood, but on how many Council votes can be gamed by insiders and their attorneys, whether for or against. 

    The entire process is convulsive, overly politicized, and unpredictable.  It results in no assurances of quality urban design.  It only sporadically produces a successful addition to an existing good place.  It tends to promote the maxing-out of one landholder’s interest to the expense or detriment of the rest of the neighborhood.  Everyone is interested in How Much They Can Get and the answer depends only on a Council vote.

    This makes pitched rezoning battles the primary means of adding to our city’s built environment.  This is no way to create great places.

    Instead, using a form-based approach would satisfy the first question on everyone’s mind:  “What is change going to look like?”  It sets an agreed-upon pattern as the scenario.  It would give developers predictability, as by-right zoning can be put in place after a satisfactory neighborhood plan is agreed on.  And it would ensure that new development takes the entire area’s benefit into account, maximizing value for all property owners together, rather than this parcel-by-parcel “let me cash in first” approach.

    Form-based planning also puts the important decisions about change into a more neutral forum where a wide base of stakeholders can consider the options BEFORE a particular rezoning proposal is submitted.  So it’s less of a thumbs-up/thumbs-down choice and more of an integrated process of deciding on good and acceptable change in a whole and considered way.

    Of course, form-based planning and form-based zoning have their downsides.  They would eliminate (1) high-paying opportunities for connected insiders and developers attorneys, who profit from their ability to game the back rooms in representing developers, and (2) opportunities for politicians to game their votes and influence in hopes of generating campaign contributions and other gimmes. 

    Betsy Kane
    Former member, Raleigh Planning Commission 2004-2007

  • JZ
    06/14 06:59 PM

    Some very helpful, enlightening recommendations. 

    Betsy, would you go so far as to say this type of proactive, consensus-built regulatory infrastructure is comparable to what the Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District attempts to do for R-zoned areas? 

    They seem similar in their goals.

  • Fallonia
    06/14 07:22 PM

    I would be interested in knowing more about the process as well. The outcome of an NCOD process can be similar, but in this current environment, the “working together” aspects are harder than ever, due the forces mentioned here:
    > neighbors have to commit themselves to god only knows how many months of protest at public hearings.  In this process, the final decision hinges not on the quality of the development as an addition to the neighborhood, but on how many Council votes can be gamed by insiders and their attorneys, whether for or against.
    The entire process is convulsive, overly politicized, and unpredictable.  It results in no assurances of quality urban design.  It only sporadically produces a successful addition to an existing good place.  It tends to promote the maxing-out of one landholder’s interest to the expense or detriment of the rest of the neighborhood.  <

  • Betsy
    06/14 09:30 PM

    The NCOD approach takes steps towards addressing form.  Mainly, it does this by comparing proposed building to the context of the existing built pattern, in terms of such elements as height and setbacks. 


    However, it is a bit different than a true form-based planning and zoning approach.  For one thing, it is a *form-regulating overlay*set within the context of a conventional, mid-20th-century *use-based* zoning system.  As a result it is currently only used in R district (at least, that’s my understanding). 


    And it is not precisely targeted.  But it has proven at least partly useful and my understanding is that some changes are under consideration to address some of its shortcomings.  I am not familiar with those proposed changes, however.

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