Raleigh looks to sell lots near downtown

BY COLIN CAMPBELLJanuary 21, 2014 

— Elected leaders are getting a lot of interest in city-owned properties on the southeastern edge of downtown as growth spreads into once-blighted sections of town.

Raleigh City Council members heard proposals Jan. 14 from potential buyers seeking lots near the intersection of East Davie and South Bloodworth streets. Developer Gordon Smith wants all five properties on the block to add to others he owns in the neighborhood.

Smith wants to wrap up the sale by February in order to save a nearby house. He’s eager to salvage the last remaining house on the site of the Lincoln apartment complex near Moore Square, but he needs the Bloodworth Street location to house the home before apartment construction begins.

Otherwise, according to Andrew Stewart – who’s working with Smith – “it’s going to be torn down and gone.”

Smith has competition, however, for a vacant lot at 324 E. Davie St. from Preservation North Carolina, a nonprofit that advocates for historic properties. The group wants to buy the lot to protect a 1919 house next door. Part of the house, which is being renovated, extends onto the city-owned lot.

Smith’s company thinks the small lot could become a pocket park. He’s agreed to work with Preservation North Carolina on a plan for the property before the city council’s budget and economic development committee meets again on Jan. 28.

The city’s community development department had recommended a sale directly to Preservation. “I feel like it would be helpful if we could have a conversation and not just reject the interest I have in 324,” Smith told the council members.

About five blocks further down East Davie, Steve Sypher wants the city to sell him four lots along Alston Street, Walser Place and Camden Street.

“Part of our conceptual plan is to create a real cottage community around these areas,” said architect David Maurer, who’s working with Sypher on the project.

Southeast Raleigh community leader Danny Coleman said he wants Sypher to meet with the area’s Citizens Advisory Council before moving forward. “This cottage thing involves a private drive and some other things,” he said. “I wasn’t enamored with the first drawing I saw.”

Councilman Thomas Crowder said that whatever development results from the lot sales should house low- to moderate-income families.

“Gentrification is working, but we don’t want to over-gentrify to a point that we tip to the other side of the situation,” he said.

Campbell: 919-829-4802; Twitter: @RaleighReporter

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