Monday, August 24, 2009

Candidate Forum



Sponsored By


Thursday, September 10th
6:30 - 8:30 pm
Doors open at 6:15

Temple Beth Or
5315 Creedmoor Rd. Raleigh

Election Day is coming up quickly and I sincerely hope that you will either vote early starting September 17th at the Board of Elections, or on Election Day which is October 6th!

Please consider attending this upcoming candidate forum to learn more about current local issues, as well as get your own questions answered!

Looking forward to seeing you there.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

OpEd on Toad Mansion in N&O today

The N&O ran an editorial today on the effects the economic crisis has had on the building boom in older neighborhoods.

Bizarrely, the teardown craze hit neighborhoods whose value lay precisely in their small-scale charm.

Harrop notes that the real estate crises has run in three waves:

This is part of what experts are calling the third wave of the real-estate crisis. The first wave was speculators fleeing when prices began to fall. The second was homeowners hit hard when their interest rates "reset" from their very low introductory rates. Many of these adjustable-rate mortgages were subprime.

The third wave has hit prime mortgages held by the cream of the borrowers. Many of these homeowners had suffered a job loss or collapse in business income.

Here in oldish Raleigh, Anderson Drive shows 8 properties for sale in a three block stretch. Not for sale at this time are a couple of occupied spec houses, who are riding this wave out as rental or owner occupied. Yet several of the adjoining side streets have a serious case of culture shock.

Chateaus were plopped down on intimate village streetscapes. Why do that in places beloved for their neighborly settings ....

Why do that, indeed.

For we who mourn the homes that the giants replaced, the sadness lingers. The builders of bigness may be moving on, but they've left their pyramids behind. Charming rows of bungalows in Seattle and Denver still sit in the shadows of bulky villas shoehorned on small lots.

Full read is here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Raleigh's Hillsborough Street

Keep Hillsborough Street funky
Independent Weekly | 27 MAY 2009 • by Bob Geary, rjgeary (at) mac (dot) com
After the city's open house for the Hillsborough Street roundabouts project last month, some of us walked over to Players Retreat, a 51-year-old neighborhood saloon, to watch our Carolina Hurricanes battle the brutish New Jersey Devils. It was Game 7, and the Canes stole a 4-3 victory that night with two goals in the final 80 seconds, which caused everybody in the place to go completely nuts.

This, I thought, is what Hillsborough Street must've felt like in the glory days. ...

Virtually everything that gives Raleigh its identity is on Hillsborough Street or connected by it: The Capitol, downtown, the university, the old fairgrounds, the new fairgrounds, Glenwood South, Pullen Park, the Oberlin community, the Democratic and Republican state headquarters. I could go on, but it usually clinches such arguments to note that the YMCA where Andy and Barney stayed is on Hillsborough Street—or it used to be. There's a new "Y" where the old, Andy-era one stood, and the new one bares its back to the street.

Explore here.

or here.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Stop and hear the water ripple

A little trip down Fallon Park lane, with a Hasselblad.


And MORE by Holden Richards.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

How to Save a House and Create a Home

The current Independent Weekly has a cover story on Builders of Hope. Bob Geary begins the story this way, embedding the beginning of the real story here.

It wasn't only the spike in Raleigh teardowns, though the sight of perfectly habitable homes being reduced to rubble helped Nancy Murray settle on a strategy. She already was on a mission to learn all she could about affordable housing and how to build it. Call it audacity, call it a ministry, but Murray—an advertising executive turned builder and social activist—thought she could supply top-drawer, affordable houses in good neighborhoods to working-class families.

Then it clicked: Murray would save the homes imperiled by teardowns and have them moved to a new location. She would upgrade them using the best green techniques while preserving as much of their old wooden bones as possible, then sell the houses at prices high enough to recapture the costs but below their new appraised values.

Such was the genesis—the biblical as well as temporal meaning—of the nonprofit organization Murray created in 2006, Builders of Hope.

This most amazing story of hope becoming reality can be read here. The chance for hope to recycle itself into the future is the best development of all.

An Over the Top Award to Builders of Hope for this Positive Development.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The world is a stage ....

KAI RYSSDAL: There was a tiny glimmer of hope for the housing industry this morning. According to the Commerce Department, construction spending didn't fall as much last month as experts had been guessing. But it's still plenty hard to sell the houses that are being built right now. That's especially true in places like Nevada and California, where suburbs that were overbuilt and overpriced look like ghost towns now.

Developers are more desperate than ever to clear those foreclosed or unsold homes off their books. So they're stealing a page from the realtor's playbook. Marketplace's Mitchell Hartman tells us some builders are trying to stage the next real-estate turnaround.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

What Happens in Texas

... let's hope it stays in Texas.

The nightmare is reported here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

On the Town

This is the latest story produced by WUNC-FM on Raleigh's growth. Raleigh's position at the top of the fastest-growth ranking is a surprise to some, and not a surprise to others.

"Well, we have a lot of green here in terms of the trees, the parks and greenways, a school system that is generally in good shape, traffic is not too bad at the moment…. just all kinds of positive things that we have here that other cities don’t have the combination of."
-Mayor Meeker

The Comp Plan is certainly a significant effort at trying to manage our growth so that this which is so positive remains a part of our fair city. Fallonia believes getting a plan onboard could not come soon enough. Ask any of the older neighborhoods how spot growth is going.

Story can be heard here.

The Comp Plan can be studied here.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I hope it becomes a little park

Courtesy of - tonyjcase

Day 074/365 - the Bugs Bunny house

You remember that old Loony Toons where a building is being constructed over Bugs Bunny's hole, and he goes to war to save his home. The end result is this huge skyscraper with a divot taken out of it where his hole is.

This house is kind of like that. The Big Evil Conglomerate bought up all the surrounding land save for this one house - the owner refused to move - so they built around her.

Makes for a very odd looking building, donchya think?

(The full story here)

This is an update to an earlier story about a woman in Seattle who held out against progress. An unlikely friendship developed between her and the super on the building project. He looked out for her until the end. From her obit:

During her last days, Martin said he made sure that she was comfortable at home.

"She got to do it the way she wanted to do it," Martin said. "She had already made up her mind, and that's the way it was going to be."

He still wonders what drew him to the cranky, stubborn woman who seemed to do all she could to discourage friends or visitors.

"I think we were a lot alike. I am stubborn and so was she. We had some incredible arguments," Martin said. "She was amazingly smart."

It's unclear what will happen now to the tiny two-bedroom, two-story house built in 1900. Macefield said she doesn't have any relatives. Her only child, a son, died of meningitis at 13.

Martin isn't holding out much hope for the old house. It leans seriously to one side, he said. "I straighten the pictures every time I come over," he said.

"Eventually it will all go to progress."

. . .

She adored animals, and could be seen almost every day standing outside her front yard tossing out seeds for the birds.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Heard at the Comp Plan Public Hearing

"What made Raleigh what Raleigh was?" asked the speaker. "It's the people, caring about each other -- whether they are people who have, or people who didn't have. We cared about each other."

"When we look at a thing like this plan, we need to ask ourselves 'who is gonna win from this? and who is gonna lose?'"

"We need to make sure Raleigh is still home to her people when we are done."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bob Geary Writes Again!

Please see the Independent for the complete article:

Imagine Raleigh without sprawl

18 MAR 2009 • by Bob Geary, rjgeary (at) mac (dot) com

In the run-up to this week's public hearing on Raleigh's draft comprehensive plan, the advice to city leaders from a stream of visiting experts has been remarkably unified. Success, experts say, depends on taking city life "back to the future."

The era of suburban sprawl is ending, these planners maintain, not simply because of high gas prices, but because it is fundamentally unsustainable. As Christopher Leinberger, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., put it in a recent talk, the more "drivable suburban" neighborhoods a city allows, the lower the quality of life becomes for everyone living in them. The fastest-growing market now, said Leinberger, a developer, is for "walkable urban" places: the kind Raleigh doesn't have, yet needs to create, that are modeled on what cities were before cars took them over.

Such places are far more complicated to build and manage than the suburbs, Leinberger said. But done right, these areas improve as they grow. They have more cultural diversity and housing options—and with public transit, the chance for people to save money by owning fewer cars, or none. If Raleigh fails to create them, Leinberger warned, "You will be left in the 20th century."

The question for Raleigh is where these walkable urban places should be. ...

Hope you will be at the Comp Plan Hearing tonight: details follow, courtesy of Bob's article:

  • What: A public hearing on Raleigh's draft comprehensive plan
  • Where: Raleigh City Hall, 222 W. Hargett St.
  • When: Thursday, March 19, 6:30 p.m.
  • What to expect: Raleigh Planning Director Mitch Silver will present the draft plan, a blueprint for the city's growth over the next 20 years
  • What's next: After the public hearing, the plan goes to the city planning commission. It is expected the commission will consider the plan this spring, then sent it back to City Council, which could adopt the plan as early as June.
  • More info: Read about the process at Planning Raleigh 2030:
  • Learn more about the plan for the city's neighborhoods:
  • Leinberger's analysis and the other experts' jibes with the basic goal of the comprehensive plan to curb sprawl and guide development into designated "growth centers." Yet it also raises the issue of whether the plan identifies too many centers—including some in places that can never be urban.

Love this:

At the same conference, Mindy Fullilove, professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, said true urbanism is characterized by a sense of connectedness that allows people of diverse backgrounds and incomes to nonetheless feel that they live in the same community and share an identity with the same "great place."

At a time of rapid upheaval in the world, Fullilove said, people yearn for the kind of stability and belonging that existed—before urban renewal cut through it—in the Hill district of Pittsburgh where her parents grew up. It was a relatively poor, predominantly African-American community of row houses, storefronts and apartments. There were no high-rises, nothing fancy. But it was a place where people believed "whatever problems you have ... you can get together and solve them."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hopes for a Happier Hillsborough Street

News & Observer has a story on the Hillsborough Street Renaissance Festival held yesterday.

Rhodes' association joined campus environmental groups, local restaurateurs and bands, and student chefs on the street Saturday. In one tent, people formed a drum circle, banging empty water jugs and detergent bottles. In another, they tasted barbecue prepared by the school's fraternities.

The idea for the festival started with three NCSU engineering students who wanted to raise money for campus charities and draw attention to environmental causes. But as they began organizing, a grander concept emerged.

They saw it as a way to erase the street's image as a divider -- home to rowdy bars that irritate nearby homeowners -- and turn it into a place where families, business owners and students could come together for a day.

Looking forward to that day to become real life again. Many of us remember the simple life -- where a trip to the A&P was just one stop that could be done on foot or bike from your home.

Extra credit for remembering the names of the places that Hillsborough was home to.

I'll start: Hamburger Hut. Gateway Restaurant. ...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Incredible Journey

To Save a Venturi House, It Is Moved
The owner of the Lieb House, a beach cottage designed by the architect Robert Venturi, had wanted to tear it down. Instead, it was rescued by relocating it. Here.

The spectacle attracted a throng of about 150 onlookers to the third floor of Pier 17 at South Street Seaport, including Mr. Venturi, the 83-year-old Pritzker Prize-winning architect who built the house in 1969 for Nathaniel and Judy Lieb. The Liebs had it built near the northern tip of Long Beach Island on the Jersey Shore. The current owner of the property planned to demolish the structure, prompting the unusual rescue effort, which involved selling the house to an owner willing to relocate it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bob Geary covers affordable housing initiatives

Click for larger image • North Hills East, the massive mixed-use development under construction in Raleigh, could have bus transit in its future. But the city didn't require affordable-housing units in exchange for a rezoning that allowed higher density. A task force says that policy must change. Photo by Bob Geary

Pushing Raleigh on affordable housing initiatives
It's time for inclusionary zoning, advocates say

11 FEB 2009 • by Bob Geary | INDYWEEK.COM

A task force appointed by the City Council wants Raleigh to become the first major city in North Carolina to employ inclusionary zoning as a way of boosting its supply of affordable housing.

Inclusionary zoning—which would require that large housing developments include some percentage of units affordable to low-income buyers—is a critical tool given Raleigh's worsening shortage of such housing, task force members and advocates say.

"The question is, are we going to include people of different income levels in all developments of a certain size?" asks Chris Estes, a task force member and the executive director of the N.C. Housing Coalition, an advocacy group. "Not doing so now has led to a variety of problems, including concentrations of poverty, lack of entry to jobs and the whole school reassignment issue."

A new housing analysis published by the Wake County Human Services Department shows roughly 46,000 Raleigh households (35 percent) are paying too much for their housing, using the generally accepted federal standard that housing should cost no more than 30 percent of family income. The main reason: There's not enough housing available at lower prices.

Most of those overpaying are renters with incomes below 50 percent of the median household income for the Raleigh-Cary metro area, which in 2006 was $69,800 a year. At the low end, for families with incomes below 30 percent of the median—$21,000 a year or less—the housing shortage is growing by some 1,300 units annually, according to the county's analysis.

The latter is a countywide figure, but other data in the study indicate that fast-growing Raleigh, which has accounted for about two-fifths of Wake's new housing this decade, is a major contributor to the affordable-housing problem, not the solution.

Lack of housing options has also hobbled Raleigh and the county's ability to serve a growing special needs population, including persons with mental, developmental and physical disabilities, according to the report. Some 10,600 such folks live in the county on incomes below the federal poverty level, which is $9,310 for a single person, $18,850 for a family of four—and most of them depend on services only available in Raleigh.

Thus the task force, created in connection with the development of a new comprehensive land-use plan for Raleigh, is preparing to recommend that the City Council take a series of aggressive steps, including:

Writing new zoning laws for transit-oriented development near commuter rail or bus stops, requiring "housing diversity and affordable housing choices."

Using incentives to encourage all new mixed-use developments, regardless of location, to be "mixed-income" as well.

Creating a new local funding source (a tax or impact fee) to help fund affordable housing—along with a land trust or other vehicle to assure that it remains affordable.

Targeting more of the existing funding—which includes federal housing funds as well as periodic city bond issues—to housing that's affordable at the lowest income levels, rather than to those at or near the $69,800 median.
The task force is chasing a moving target. When it met last week, it was still debating exactly how to word its recommendations, which are intended to be included in the comprehensive plan. Meanwhile, however, the comprehensive plan, issued in draft form in December, is being rewritten by the city's planning staff in anticipation of a public hearing March 3.

Task force members were divided on whether to call for "mandatory" or "voluntary" inclusionary zoning, but most were either in the first camp or else searching for a policy that would require results—actual affordable units in all large developments—without using red-flag words like "require" or "mandatory."

Their fear is that the City Council, which shelved an inclusionary zoning initiative by Councilor Thomas Crowder five years ago and has shown no inclination to take it up again, will reject any policy that seems to lean too hard on developers, especially in today's sad-sack economy.

"I'd like to see us make some progress on this issue," said member Gregg Warren, executive director of the Downtown Housing Improvement Corporation (DHIC), a city-supported low-income housing developer. "I think if we say 'mandatory,' we're going to get shot out of the saddle."

"As a builder, 'mandatory' to me means where else can I [build] where it isn't required?" member Richard Gaylord added. "It's something my heart wants to do, but my pro forma [financial statement] won't allow it."

On the other hand, Gaylord said, if Raleigh ties an inclusionary zoning requirement to incentives like density bonuses or other subsidies that would boost the returns to investors, not cost them money, they'd be better received.

According to Estes, most communities that have inclusionary zoning do just that, allowing builders to go taller or denser in exchange for including units they agree to sell at prices affordable (with payments of less than 30 percent of household income) to low-income buyers.

About 400 communities around the country have inclusionary zoning ordinances, but only a handful are in North Carolina. Davidson, the college town near Charlotte, was the first to adopt a mandatory ordinance in 2001. Chapel Hill has a non-mandatory program with guidelines that encourage developers to include 15 percent affordable units in rezoning applications, which are otherwise not likely to be approved.

"You can always work backwards," said Claude Trotter, a former city planning commission member, "but if we're not out there pushing for it"—an ordinance with teeth, that is—"you'll never get it." Trotter urged the group to "hold firm" for a mandatory approach.

One group that is pushing is Congregations for Social Justice (CSJ), a two-year-old coalition of 35 faith-based groups and 19 nonprofits in Raleigh that has made affordable housing one of its two top priorities. (The other is alternative, community-based corrections programs.)

Alan Reberg, a minister at Raleigh Mennonite Church and chair of CSJ's housing committee, has been a regular attendee at the task force meetings. CSJ helped persuade the City Council to create the task force; he thinks it's worked well, and should be succeeded by a permanent affordable housing commission that can advise the city on what an inclusionary zoning ordinance should say, and what else it should do to tackle a serious problem.

"With 46,000 households paying too much, I mean, good night!" Reberg said. "The shortages are horrendous, and the city and county do—I want to say they do a good job, but it's just woefully inadequate.

"And it's a job government can't do all by itself," he added, which is why an inclusionary policy is vital. "We need every segment of housing providers contributing, because no one sector is going to be able to pull it off."

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Houses for people to live in ...

Home teardowns

Coomentary by David Walden | Pleasanton Weekly - Pleasanton, CA, USA

The pace of teardowns also has slowed and preservationists are applauding the trend. About 75,000 homes a year were torn down across the country at the peak of the market. The National Trust has expanded its list of endangered neighborhoods to include 500 neighborhoods in 40 states.

The demolitions have triggered bitter battles between preservationists and suburbanites seeking new homes in mature, urban neighborhoods. But with new housing starts at a 26-year low, teardowns are experiencing a lull. For instance, in Westport, Conn., teardown permits were down 33 percent in 2008 compared to the previous year.

"The idea that you're going to make a lot of money tearing down an old house to build a new one, that's gone," said Morris Davis, a real estate economist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison who has advised the Federal Reserve on the teardown trend.

"We're advising communities to take advantage of this slowdown and use it as a cooling-off period," said Adrian Fine, a regional director for the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington. "It gives them a little more time to have a less heated and less controversial discussion to protect a specific neighborhood and balance that with the need for growth and development." (Source: The Christian Science Monitor)

Editor's Note: David Walden is a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist and Certified Divorce Planning Professional associated with Diversified Capital Funding of Pleasanton.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Community Conversations: FEB 2, 2009

Practical Strategies for Historic Preservation

Maintaining Raleigh's unique community character is a hot topic in our city. Reasonable people can disagree about what our priorities ought to be and how best to achieve them, but the public discourse doesn't need to be contentious. Bill Schmickle, author of The Politics of Historic Districts: A Primer for Grassroots Preservation, will share his North Carolina-based perspectives on the political dynamics that drive proponents and opponents, especially in public forums, and how best to navigate them.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Please bring your friends and neighbors.

Monday, February 2, 2009

7:30 - 9:00 pm

Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church
2723 Clark Ave, Raleigh NC

Sponsored by Preservation North Carolina.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Legislating Conversation?

Letting the Neighbors Know About Construction Plans
By Ann E. Marimow
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 15, 2009; GZ03

In the wake of legislation approved last month to combat "mansionization" of communities, Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda) is pressing ahead with a companion initiative meant to give neighbors a heads-up about major renovations or tear-downs of older homes.

Berliner calls the bill a "conversation starter" among neighbors. But builders and County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) say they see something more troublesome.

Under current practice, neighbors and neighborhood associations learn of construction projects after building permits have been issued and displayed on properties. Berliner's measure would require builders in some cases to notify certain neighbors and civic associations before a permit is approved.

Opponents of that approach are concerned that the measure would set up the false expectation that notice to neighbors would allow them to block or influence approval of construction.

Berliner seemed surprised by the level of discomfort with the bill. On Tuesday, he offered to significantly narrow the legislation to apply only to construction that replaces homes that are torn down or additions that are greater than 50 percent of an existing structure. It would not affect small-scale renovations or additions.

"This is notice only -- without any legal rights attached to it," Berliner said, "to encourage early conversation with your neighbors."

Berliner has the backing of council member Marc Elrich (D-At Large), who called the bill an "innocuous" requirement.

But the proposed changes did little to convince the building community, whose concerns Leggett shares. Raquel Montenegro, an associate director for government affairs at the Maryland-National Capital Building Industry Association, said the concern is "not what the bill says" but that residents "will believe they are entitled to stop construction on the property next door." She said it would be difficult for the county government to educate residents and to lower expectations.

. . .

Staff writer Miranda S. Spivack contributed to this report.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dear Rose

Use Space Effectively to Add More Room to Older Homes

Q: We are appalled to find ourselves living in a neighborhood of tear-downs. Our house — like many of those being razed — was built a half-century ago when the area was working class.

We also need more living space, but can't decide how to add it. Do you have any suggestions?

A: Arm yourself with a good architect. He or she can survey your options and make professional recommendations on how to best enhance your specific property.

Meanwhile, you're to be congratulated for standing firm in your "working-class" footprint. After the bloated size and embarrassing aesthetics of America's McMansion phase, we are rediscovering the truth — that less is indeed more.

Here's inspiration from the pages of a new book that celebrates the smaller, smarter home, "The Simple House" by architect Sarah Nettleton (The Taunton Press). Subtitled "The Luxury of Enough," her book shows why and how to think through one's space intelligently.

The pictured room is an addition to a small home similar to yours. Long and loft-like, the new space parallels the old, cascading through several activity areas down to the sitting room, which is on the same level as the outdoor garden. Architect Taal Safdie of Safdie Rabines orchestrated the addition so it connects the new and old house through open "windows" hung with shutters.

The long storage wall is as practical as it is attractive — with open shelves and closed cabinets under columns that define the stairway as they evoke a feeling of the out-of-doors.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Turret Trouble

ELIZABETHTON — Steve and Ashley Grindstaff were both philosophical and practical on the day after a fire caused heavy damage to their $28.5 million home on Boone Lake on Saturday evening — a home on which they had no insurance.

“Self insured,” Steve said. “I won’t get one dime of insurance ... I guess this is a case of thinking it will never happen to me.

Steve said a rare January bolt of lightning was the culprit. Fire officials have confirmed that it was lightning. The only things he didn’t take into consideration when building the home were the copper beams in the turret of the signature tower of the house. Copper is one of nature’s best conductors of electricity. When lightning hit that copper beam, it efficiently conducted the super hot bolt throughout the top floor of the house, spreading fire and destruction. The power of the lightning bolt can still be seen in the jagged hole left in the tower.

Obviously something has been overlooked in our lightning safety literature. 
  • The best shelter from lightning is a substantial building, indoors.
  • Avoid car ports, porches, garages, sheds, tents, baseball dugouts, or under bleachers.
  • If no substantial shelter is available, then seek refuge in a hard topped vehicle, with the windows up.  
  • Stay away from trees, electrical poles, or other tall objects.
  • If your hair stands on end, or you experience a tingling sensation – lightning may strike soon! DO NOT LIE FLAT ON THE GROUND!

Complete story here.

The $28.5M Crantzdorf Estate is listed here.

This extravagant estate took over 10 years to complete showcasing the work of European craftsmen and architects. It is an elegant home encompassing 20,000+ sq. ft. containing 21 rooms such as 9 bedrooms, 10 full baths, 3 - 1/2 baths, 4 car garage and much more. Each room is full of exquisite details such as antique and castle furniture. The fountain and doors are antique as well.

This home has details such as antique fireplaces, grand ceilings, hand cast moldings, Italian marble floors and spectacular stained glass. It also boasts a world class theater, indoor basketball court, large pool and a replica of the Bristol Motor Speedway complete with six cars. Not only is the home spectacular but it is only enhanced by the location of the 13 acres on Boone Lake. The home has lake access containing a boat house and gazebo. Not to mention, the awesome scenery found in the mountains of East Tennessee.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Raleigh Comprehensive Plan

Where we are in the process:

The Public Review Draft is here!

The City of Raleigh is pleased to announce the availability of the Public Review Draft of the 2030 Comprehensive Plan. This is a complete draft, made available to all interested individuals and parties for review and comment. The Department of City Planning will be taking comments from December 1, 2008 through January 31, 2009. Click here to browse the document on-line, comment directly on the Plan's text, and download a printable version. This page also contains information about where to browse a paper copy, and how to provide input on the document outside of the on-line tools.

What's next in the process?

The Public Review Draft has been released, and a variety of meetings and workshops will be held throughout the months of December, 2008 and January, 2009 to brief the public and appointed boards and commissions, and to receive input. The official roll-out of the Public Review Draft was held on December 3, 2008 at the Convention Center downtown. Most significantly, three citywide Public Workshops on the Plan will be held on January 13, 14 and 15 at various locations throughout Raleigh. Click here for a full schedule of meetings and briefings. All meetings are open to the public.

Begin your research HERE. You may be pleasantly surprised. Or not. Review period ends on January 31.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Teardown Watch

Garland Jones building is coming down
Eye-catcher or eyesore? Modernist building will be missed by just a few
By Richard Stradling - Staff Writer
Published: Sat, Jan. 10, 2009

RALEIGH -- The National Trust for Historic Preservation's magazine calls the Garland H. Jones Building an "eye-catching landmark." Local architects say it's one of the best examples of Modernist architecture left in downtown Raleigh.

But come February, when the five-story office building begins coming down, it's not clear that many people will miss it.

The building's owner, Wake County, expected some opposition when it proposed demolishing the 47-year-old building to make way for a $215 million justice center. But county officials say they heard from only a handful of people.

It's more than a teardown, really. Call it progress or call it tragic, it is another piece of Raleigh's history added to the landfill.

Jon Zellweger, a Raleigh architect who posted a eulogy for the Garland Jones building on the Internet last year, thinks that people will look back at pictures of the building and wonder why it was torn down.

"Fifty years ago, we were tearing down Victorians and buildings from the late 19th century that we now hold up as precious," Zellweger said in an interview. "We love what our grandparents built and hate what our parents built."

In that article, published on, Zellweger goes into the significance of the building architecturally. Accompanied by photographs and floor plans, the article makes clear what we are about to do to our urban landscape.

The American Institute of Architects has identified it as one of the 88 most important 20th Century structures in Raleigh. The building has also been identified as a contributing structure in a study to designate the Fayetteville Street District as a Federal Historic District. Most remarkable is the fact that it is the last remaining example of High Modern Architecture in the downtown core. A myriad of other structures still populate the area—so much so that Raleigh resident George Smart has found no end in cataloging just the residential structures worthy of note. But after Wake County demolished its Social Services Building in 1998 it left the First Federal Building as the only well-dressed representative of that time.

The writing on the wall began with the building of the county jail tower. Gotta love the way we do that around here ... putting the Art Museum next to the Polk Youth Center, for example. Eventually the whole of the area will change to the new function, just as we have always done. So it goes with the Wake County complex downtown. Seems to me we get a little shortsighted on the vision thing around here.

Thank goodness Dorton Arena was saved. Yall remember the blue/green glass era over there? And now we are proud.

Is good to have visionaries among us.