Next Union Station phase will bring hotel, housing and retail to Warehouse District

The second phase of Raleigh Union Station, poised to be a key public transportation, residential and commercial hub in downtown’s Warehouse District, is moving closer to breaking ground.

GoTriangle’s planned extension to the rail station, known as RUSBus, will provide a place for local and regional buses to collect and drop off passengers.

The development at 200 S. West St., will join a flurry of economic activity in the Warehouse District, including the first phase of Raleigh Union Station, The Dillon mixed-use commercial and residential center and the Morgan Street Food Hall.

It’s also expected to add to downtown Raleigh’s skyline with a tower that could be built up to 40 stories high.

The U.S. Department of Transportation, which gave GoTriangle a $20 million BUILD grant for the project, lists the estimated cost of RUSBus as $50.7 million.

The base of the building includes the 35,000-square-foot transit station and 25,000-square-foot retail area, according to preliminary development plans.

New design renderings from RUSBus designer Perkins Eastman show walkable plaza areas that wrap around the new bus station with outdoor seating and dining in front of commercial space at the future site.

“To have that be a true hub where you can get on a rail line from Durham, get off at Union Station and then be able to get on Bus Rapid Transit to go anywhere in the city is going to be truly fantastic,” said Will Gaskins, director of economic development of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, who has assisted GoTriangle’s project plans.

In an update on the project last month, GoTriangle said construction is planned to begin by May 2022 with a “substantial” completion date of at least July 2025.

“It’s going to be the nexus of connectivity,” Gaskins told The News & Observer.

The RUSBus tower includes residential units, a hotel and a parking deck along with retail space.
The RUSBus tower includes residential units, a hotel and a parking deck along with retail space.

What plans call for

The renderings for RUSBus show a U-shaped design with two 10-story towers facing each other. One tower atop the building’s base would have 165 residential units across from a second tower with a 260-room hotel.

The two towers would have a plaza area with amenities between them. The plans show the towers stacked above the building’s base with a 665-space parking deck in its center, and 155 residential units wrapped around it.

Thirty percent of those residential units will be affordable housing for those earning 80% or less of the area median income.

The plans also will include “off-site transit improvements” in the surrounding area on South West Street, although GoTriangle has not specified these details.

After securing a $20 million federal grant in 2018, GoTriangle’s request to increase the tower’s allowed height was unanimously approved by the Raleigh City Council the following year.

The council sought to add more affordable housing units and GoTriangle committed to including retail and civic space in the tower’s ground floor as well as preserving the original buildings’ red brick exteriors.

“Whenever we can put transit connections together with housing and jobs, the community wins,” GoTriangle lawyer Shelley Curran said in a previous news release. “It’s going to be exciting to see all of the ways RUSBus contributes to improving the quality of life we enjoy in the Triangle.”

The station will have six to 10 bays for local buses to pick-up and drop-off passengers and will connect with the city’s planned bus rapid transit lines that will radiate from downtown.

To become eligible for federal funding, GoTriangle had to meet several objectives, including choosing a developer. Washington, D.C.-based Hoffman & Associates was selected, whose other Raleigh projects include the $300 million redevelopment of Seaboard Station on Peace Street.

The RUSBus tower includes residential units, a hotel and a parking deck along with retail space.
The RUSBus tower includes residential units, a hotel and a parking deck along with retail space.

Warehouse District activity

Investment in the Warehouse District, made up of redeveloped historic buildings, was boosted first by the development of the Citrix building in the last decade, which was recently sold for about $85 million.

More recently, changes came with the first phase of Raleigh Union Station, which was built in 2018 on 510 W. Martin St. That’s near The Dillon mixed-use commercial and residential center, which Kane Realty sold late last year for $236 million.

In addition to the retail and restaurants that have sprung up in The Dillon, the nearby Morgan Street Food Hall that opened in 2018 is another destination.

And real estate firms continue to file requests to build new high-rises in the district.

The new transit center will have more of an economic impact on the Triangle if a commuter rail project pursued by GoTriangle becomes a reality, said Gaskins of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.

The rail line would connect the Triangle’s biggest municipalities of Raleigh, Cary and Durham as well as Research Triangle Park by following the existing rail corridor owned by the N.C. Railroad.

Decisions on public transit like RUSBus are ”major investments that really carry us forward into the next phase of growth for Raleigh,” Gaskins said.