The sprawling, rundown 85-year-old Stone’s warehouse at 500 East Davie Street won’t be used for affordable housing, but the developers purchasing the building say they will transform the space into the next best thing: a grocery store, market and community gathering place for southeast Raleigh residents.
Following a public hearing Tuesday evening, Raleigh’s City Council voted unanimously to sell the .83-acre Stone’s Warehouse site to the Transfer Company, a group of local developers who want to “give it new life” and “preserve a part of the community’s history while also adapting it to Raleigh’s future,” according to an info sheet from the group.
The sales price for the property came in at $2.02 million and that money will be re-invested by the city to relocate the Rex Hospital Senior Health Care Center to Rock Quarry Road, and to invest in affordable housing in southeast Raleigh. (The city had purchased the warehouse using federal housing funds in 2003).
Transfer Co. says it expects to add up to 100 permanent jobs at the site once construction, including a 13,000-square-foot building and a row of 16 townhouses, is complete, by the end of 2016. Local businesses including Videri Chocolate Factory, Locals Seafood, Jubala Coffee, Boulted Bread and Trophy Brewing and Pizza Co. have already expressed interest in locating in the building.
“This is a local development with a local design team, a project that will be built by local contractors to be prepared for local businesses,” said Steve Schuster, an architect and the Raleigh Planning Commission chairman who has been involved with the project. “We can’t do more than that to promote good jobs for our community.”
The city’s original plan was to use Stone’s Warehouse for affordable housing in partnership with Raleigh housing nonprofit DHIC, but Schuster said that "couldn’t be made to work on this property.”
Danny Coleman, a southeast Raleigh resident and chairman of the South Central CAC, lamented that, with the sale of the city-owned property to developers, the city was “taking from the needy and giving to the greedy.” He also said his CAC had not been consulted about the decision to sell the site.
But overall, the Council’s decision to sell the Stone’s property to Jason Queen, Will Jeffers and Matt Flynn, who share a vision for revitalizing “Olde East Raleigh,” was met with jubilance.
“Transfer’s prospectus says they will include food grown locally, by local farmers and gardeners,” a Raleigh resident, who called herself a “hunger remediator,” said at the public hearing. “I know we need food in the city’s largest food desert.”