Nine-story building now part of Stanhope

A Raleigh developer is thinking bigger in his plans for a mixed-use project along Hillsborough Street near N.C. State University – bigger as in a nine-story building instead of a three-story structure envisioned 10 years ago.

The high-rise would be the focal point of a three-building project called Stanhope Center that would include a parking deck proposed by developerMelton “Val” Valentine. Slated for completion in August is a fourth building, a 277-unit student housing complex called Valentine Commons.

By making the building taller at the corner of Concord Street, Valentine says he’ll be able to add more luxury-style apartment units than he planned when the master plan for Stanhope Center was adopted in 2002.

Valentine concedes that he may get some pushback from city leaders and from some neighbors regarding the height of the building, which would rise as high as 110 feet as opposed to 40 feet under the old plan. He’s ready to counter that he’s not asking for any more density than what has been approved in the master plan.

The 2002 plan allows for 520 residential units and a maximum of 40,000 square feet of retail, commercial office or recreational space. Valentine’s rezoning request, which would redistribute the number of residential units among the high-rise and the three other buildings, is slated for review at an October public hearing at City Hall.

Another of the buildings proposed by Valentine is a five-story structure with offices, apartments and retail at the corner of Friendly Drive that would be anchored by a Kerr Drug store. That project, which would replace the building where the Katmandu nightclub now operates, was not originally part of the Stanhope master plan.

Valentine owns all of the run-down buildings and empty lots where decades-old establishments such as The Brewery and Pantana Bob’s once operated. His properties encompass all of the Hillsborough Street block between Friendly Drive and Concord Street, one of the major gateways onto N.C. State University’s central campus.

He says he’s hoping that more flexibility in the master plan would attract more investors. “It’s just the right time, the right place. Plus, there’s good interest rates and low building costs right now,” Valentine says.

But securing the more than $40 million that would be needed to finance construction of the remaining Stanhope buildings, including the nine-story Concord Street building, the five-story Friendly Drive building and a parking deck that would be wrapped with residential housing, has proven to be a challenge.

“We’ve worked for a long time to get these 12 acres zoned and cleaned up,” Valentine says. “We’d like to build something nice for the neighborhood. The neighborhood deserves it.”

Meanwhile, the nearly complete Valentine Commons is already 80 percent leased, says property manager Barbara Oaks. It is being developed by Birmingham, Ala., student housing developer Capstone Development that, along with a nonprofit partner, bought the three-acre site on which it sits from Valentine in 2010.

Valentine’s nine-story apartment and commercial building would not be without precedent, even though it’s the largest project proposed on the west end of Hillsborough Street. Several other multi-story buildings on the east side of Hillsborough Street near N.C. State’s campus are in planning stages or already under construction, including:

  • Charlotte-based FMW Real Estate’s plan to redevelop a nearly seven-acre site off of West Morgan Street at the Hillsborough Street intersection. Faison & Associates is already building a 240-unit apartment building. Future plans include 32 townhouses and 10,000 square feet of office, restaurant and retail space.
  • N.C. State University’s plan to sell a 1.3-acre site across from the university’s iconic Bell Tower on Hillsborough Street for development of a 125-room hotel with street-level retail shops and restaurants. Bell View Partners LLC of Raleigh is developing the project jointly with The Bernstein Companies of Washington, D.C.

Jeff Murison, executive director of Hillsborough Street Community Service Corp., says he hopes development of Valentine’s Stanhope site would attract other new investment on the west side of Hillsborough Street.

“It’s currently just a gravel parking lot with a lot of abandoned space,” Murison says of the Stanhope site. “This is part of the continued evolution of the street. The addition of a new anchor tenant like Kerr Drug and a new building will allow us to attract new business and better serve the neighborhood and the people on campus.”

Arthor: Amanda Hoyle