Z-2-2014Guest post by David Novak, Clodagh Bastian, and Sallie Ricks on behalf of University Park Homeowners Association Board of Directors

There has been recent discussion about a proposed new project on Hillsborough Street. This brief summary of the rezoning case is intended to give an overview of the details and share the information with you. We hope you find it helpful.


The proposed “Hillsborough Lofts” (Z-2-14) project would encompass the three lots of 2505, 2506, and 2508 Hillsborough St, in the space that is now Two Guys Pizza, The Keg, and formerly Melvin’s Burgers. The application made is for a 7-story building on this site with the lower level for retail/dining and upper levels for student housing (96 residents). Of the 24 parking spaces normally required for a project of this size, 16 are exempted because of the special pedestrian character of the area, leaving eight required off-street parking spaces. Their location has not been determined.


The reason there is discussion about this rezoning application is that it requests a building height of 7 stories. Raleigh’s new zoning ordinance, the Unified Development Ordinance, specifies a maximum allowed height of 3-5 stories, not to exceed 75 feet for this site. The developers maintain that their proposed steel and concrete construction would meet the 75’ maximum height requirement, but allow for two additional stories over the Comprehensive Plan’s 5-story height maximum. These two additional stories would increase the project’s development intensity by 40% above the maximum specified by the Comprehensive Plan for this location.


Support in the neighborhood for the rezoning application is led by the YIMBY (“Yes in My Back Yard”) group, who argue that Hillsborough Street should be open for increased density as it represents a transit corridor. YIMBY supports no on-site parking for the planned project to encourage pedestrian traffic and sees the development as a positive precedent for future development of Hillsborough Street. YIMBY representatives have collected 126 signatures in support of the project.


Opponents of the proposed 7 story rezoning support a height of 5 stories for this site, which is consistent with Comprehensive Plan policies supporting walkability, transit and density. A central concern is that there are no transitional buffers in place between Hillsborough Street and the neighborhood, resulting in a precipitous step-down from seven stories to the church and the neighborhood homes behind it. Additionally, opponents fear the precedent set by allowing this building intensity will result in similar future applications leading to unsustainable student housing density along the University Park side of Hillsborough Street.

Wade Citizens Advisory Council

Presentations were made by the developer on 2/17/14 and 3/25/14; the latter resulting in two votes by CAC members: 1) rezoning as proposed by developer: 53 against, 11 for; and 2) support for the project at 5 stories: 45 for, 6 against. UPHA has voiced opposition to the project based on these neighborhood votes.

Current Disposition

On June 17, the Planning Commission voted by split vote to recommend that Council approve the rezoning request as proposed. Staff cites that the project is consistent with the Urban Form Map. “Hillsborough Street is designated as a Main Street and a Transit Emphasis Corridor. The Site is within a Transit Stop Half-mile Buffer.”

Raleigh City Council voted June 17, 2014 on the Z-2-14 rezoning request with 5 votes for (Councilors Baldwin, Odom, Weeks, Gaylord, and Maiorano) and 3 against (Mayor McFarlane, Councilors Stephenson, and Crowder).

A second council vote on this rezoning case will be held Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at 1PM.

Editor’s note: The result of the second reading was a 5-3 vote approving this case.

Rezoning Specifics

  • The site is 0.18 acres currently zoned NB with PBOD and SRPOD (Neighborhood Business retail with Pedestrian Business Overly District and Special Residential Parking Overlay District).
  • The owners are requesting that the zoning be changed to NX-7 SH-CU with SRPOD (Neighborhood Mixed Use 7 Stories, Shop Front, Conditional Use District, with Special Residential Parking Overlay District).

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