Development Beat: Teardown Tuesday

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

There’s some stories that can’t really be told through the written word: you need to hear them in person, see the wistful glint in the teller’s eye, the cadence in their voice and the look on their face to truly appreciate what you’re hearing.

I was meeting a friend of mine downtown when he shared one of those stories, about how he bought his wife’s engagement ring at Reliable Loan & Jewelry on South Wilmington Street. In business since 1949, there must be countless customers of Reliable Jewelry with very similar tales to tell, but… well, like I said, it was one of those things that only worked in person.

Reliable Loan and Jewelry

Karen Tam / Raleigh Public Record

Reliable Loan and Jewelry

A freelancer by the name of MJ Vieweg, who did some great work for The Record back when we had money to pay freelancers, wrote an excellent piece earlier this year that captured some of the essence of what makes Reliable Loan & Jewelry such a beloved downtown Raleigh institution.

At the time, Reliable was located at 307 S. Wilmington near the intersection with Martin Street – it’s since relocated down the street to 345 S. Wilmington – but while the business lives on, the historic structure in which it was housed for so many years will soon be no more.

On November 29, demolition permits were issued to Brasfield and Gorrie for the teardown of both the old Reliable Jewelry building and its neighbor at 313 S. Wilmington.

A rendering of the original plans for The Edison

A rendering of the original plans for The Edison

Originally, these structures were scheduled for destruction in order to make way for the new $75 million Edison Office Building, care of local developer Gregg Sandreuter, who also developed the nearby Edison Lofts and the Skyhouse Raleigh. That changed, sort of, when Sandreuter sold (most) of the land this past August to Highwoods Properties, the largest owner and developer of office properties in the city.

Although the land at 313 S. Wilmington is approved for a significant new office development – at one point, The Edison was set to be the grandest in Raleigh – its new future is a little murkier.

While “Edison Office” is listed on the demolition permits, it’s unclear if this is a holdover from the original development plans or whether Highwoods plans to build out a very similar structure. Both Sandreuter and Highwoods have been tight-lipped about the future plans; what gets built, apparently, will depend on what the market demands.

So will it be bigger? Smaller? We don’t know at this point. What we do know is that the company handling the demolition, Brasfield & Gorrie, recently built out the $110 million campus for MetLife’s new Global Technology and Operations Hub out in Cary, which opened last year.

Per B&G’s press release announcing the groundbreaking in 2013, it appears the company was quite involved in the planning, design and, of course, eventual construction of the MetLife project:

“From conceptual core and shell design to the completion of tenant interior fit-up, we are collaborating with the owner, tenant and design team to bring this project to life,” said Brasfield & Gorrie Vice President and Division Manager Eric Perkinson.

Why do we mention this, other than to max out our word count? Well the fact that B&G is involved at the early demolition stage for a developer with whom they’ve previously collaborated as something of a design-build firm tells us that we’ll be hearing sooner than later about what’s coming next for this historic corner in heart of downtown Raleigh.

You won’t read about it here first, of course: big-time developers like Highwoods tend to share exclusives with outlets like the highly respected Triangle Business Journal instead of a “news outlet” that even our wonderful sponsors over at Rufty-Peedin describe as a “blog,” but we’ll probably get around to covering it eventually.

We imagine it won’t vary greatly from the originally approved plans, which called for a 19-story office building with “14,350 square feet of retail space and 255,895 square feet of office space on a 1.3 acre site.” That proposal also included a 6-level integrated parking structure containing 315 spaces. Exciting stuff.

It’s great to see all these new office buildings coming downtown: it’s a sure sign of the City’s growing strength, and the new Edison (or whatever it ends up being called) combined with the new Charter Square II: The Chartering structure over on Fayetteville, means that an even greater number of businesses will soon be calling Raleigh home. Still: in our mind, nothing will ever beat the City’s original office tower, The Briggs Hardware Building at 111 E. Hargett.

Briggs Hardware around 1910. The building remains today, now operating as the Raleigh City Museum.

Briggs Hardware around 1910. The building remains today, now operating as the Raleigh City Museum.

Speaking of history, here’s a few quick facts about the buildings set for demolition: 313 S. Wilmington was built in 1920, and was home for a long time to Isaac’s Men’s Clothing Store, which has since relocated to Capital Boulevard. It was acquired by Highwoods in August of this year.

According to Wake County map data, it looks like 307 S. Wilmington is more or less sandwiched into the middle of 313; Sandreuter, the former developer of the Edison, appears to have retained ownership, through an LLC, of this portion of the land. Per county records, it was built in 1910. The permits for the demolition of both buildings each have a listed cost of $48,000, which we imagine is the overall price for the total teardown.