By Genevieve Smith
Photos by Beacon Street Development
With everything finalized at the end of last year, Beacon Street Development’s Fairview Row was an immediate sell out. The multifamily infill project in the historic Hayes Barton neighborhood of Raleigh, N.C. isn’t the typical high density, new-urban design we’ve all become accustomed to across the country. This has everything to do with the approach the team at Beacon Street took to the project’s creation. At the very outset, the project centered on consideration for its surroundings, from selection of the location, the type of buildings built, and the market they targeted.
Located northwest of downtown Raleigh, Hayes Barton is part of the Five Points cluster of historic neighborhoods that were platted in the 1910s and early 1920sduring Raleigh’s second wave of suburban development. The neighborhoods boast a place on the National Register of Historic Places as of 2002 and extreme consideration of that history drove the entire development of Fairview Row.
“The inspiration for Fairview Row came from cities that had historically more density to them, places like Boston or Charleston that already had great human scale, where you would see building types that allowed considerably more density, but in a residential-sized scaling,” said Jim Wiley, president of Beacon Street Development. “So, those types of places as a whole inspired us to then take those ideas back and make them fitting to Raleigh itself, based on the architecture of our neighborhoods and their style and beauty.”
For a touch of history: Raleigh was smaller than those historically denser cities. Most of the beautiful, older neighborhoods in Raleigh were built pre-depression. Then, with the depression and the introduction of the car, the surrounding designs changed dramatically. That makes the Five Points neighborhoods the original, inner-ring suburbs of Raleigh, defined by their beautiful architecture. But, because Raleigh was small, it meant building types in the older areas were limited to village shops and then transitioned almost directly to single-family homes.
“What Raleigh has lacked is this beautiful, transitional-type of housing like brownstones in New York or what have you, elsewhere, “said Wiley. This is what made the location of this infill project so critical to its success: property just inside of the village where three single-family homes used to sit that had been converted to commercial use street-side and residential above. It was the perfect opportunity for Wiley and his team. “We basically took three existing lots and three existing homes and replaced them with our three Fairview Row buildings,” he said.
The decision to design three buildings instead of one larger, continuous edifice was no coincidence. “We were really trying to be sensitive to the scale of the houses and the village around it and not to do something that was too big like one building or too tall and our solution in that case was the three individual 3 story buildings,” said Wiley. The significance lies in gaining that higher density housing (five in two of the buildings and four in the other) without departing from the size or aesthetic of the single-family residences surrounding them.
The tide of national attitude towards walkable communities was on Beacon Street’s side as well. “Our city of Raleigh and some of the surrounding cities are embracing the benefit of getting out of your car or not having to drive it as far or at all,” said Wiley. “Part of Fairview Row’s design came from designing within the constraints of current zoning, but we were embraced by the city and, once they understood our commitment to building something that was seamless in the neighborhood, we even had resounding support from the neighbors.”
Obviously, this was in sync with the needs of buyers in the neighborhood, who, funnily enough, predominantly came from within the Five Points. “The main reason a good majority of our buyers actually came from the neighborhood was because we gave them the first option to stay within the neighborhood they loved with a different lifestyle,” said Wiley. This was key: buyers did not have to move to a development five or ten miles away just to get that housing lifestyle. Instead, Fairview Row allowed buyers to stay in a place they already loved, that they’d grown accustomed to, with their friends and all those other things that make your neighborhood yours.
“We gave them a lifestyle, a platform if you will, for them to live the next chapter of their life in a way that really reflected the things that they valued the most,” said Wiley.
The majority of buyers are empty nesters, Wiley summed up their target market as those who want just a little cleaner of a lifestyle, a better platform for aging among other things. The take away from the people now living there is that they love it. “Almost to a T, they say this has turned out even better than we expected,” said Wiley.
Wiley realized in creating Fairview Row that giving up that single-family home with all its history is a difficult process. “It’s another part of the reason why we designed them in the way we did,” said Wiley. “Where it’s not as harsh a transition from a traditional home to some urban, young condo that would be in downtown area, all glass and modern, but a truly classic building that lives and feels much more like a single-family home.”
Though these homes look like they could be 100 years old, Wiley’s quick to remind that they most definitely are not. “We’re not trying to build replicas, but something visually similar that has all the modern amenities and lifestyle features,” he said. All of the floor plans at Fairview Row boast open floor plans, great light, and everything that one would expect technologically, from better insulation to state of the art appliances, encompassing all the benefits that one would hope to have in a new home.
“We were very inspired by classical buildings and not many people have attempted to build the new version of them,” said Wiley. “There are a lot of wonderful things to be learned from these early neighborhoods and, whether we recreate them from scratch or whether we add to existing ones (which is probably our higher passion) we’re going after the same goal: to be part of the existing city and allow it to evolve to the new needs and the new people that are moving in.” Genevieve Smith is the Editor for Builder and Developer magazine. She may be reached at email@example.com
“The inspiration for Fairview Row came from cities that had historically more density to them, places like Boston or Charleston that…inspired us to then take those ideas back and make them fitting to Raleigh itself, based on the architecture of our neighborhoods and their style and beauty.”-Jim Wiley, President, Beacon Street Development
Project Team: Lead architect: Cari Jones, Cline Design Associates Design Consultant: Carter Skinner, Carter Skinner Design Developer: Jim Wiley, Beacon Street Fairview, LLCBuilder/General Contractor: Joel & Owen Williams, Williams Building & Realty Company Landscape: Frank Liggett, Ligget Design Group Interior: Multiple Common Corridor: Molly Simmons, Simmons Design & Consulting Home Interiors Designed By: Homeowners [and their designers]
Target Market: Empty-Nesters, Pre-Retirees Number of Units: 14