When Strahan was in North Carolina for a wedding, Tipton asked him to stop by his house to look at some art. “When he got here I had my layouts and I said, ‘Bennett, what would you do with this property?’ About an hour later he was saying ‘we could do this and we could do that,’” Tipton said.
“Then he looked at me and said, ‘you tricked me again.’ Now Strahan has a full office in Raleigh with 10 architects and support staff,” Tipton said.
The project is located on one of the premier sites in Raleigh, but the topography is rough and hilly. There are traffic considerations, and topping off development challenges, the property is adjacent to a section of the Raleigh greenway system that runs along Crabtree Creek.
To overcome the challenges, the development team created a plan that played to the natural advantages of the site and complied with a well-developed “Small Area Business Plan” put in place by the city. But it wasn’t easy.
Famous for Its Brick
“We’re removing 300,000 cubic yards of dirt,” Tipton said. “It’s the equivalent of digging out three football fields, 38 feet down. Then we’ll put in a four-level parking deck, with the fourth level being surface parking and retail space.”
Tipton and his team have tried to draw on regional architectural themes in the design of the Galleria and the materials going into the buildings.
“North Carolina is famous for its brick, so we’re using that brick throughout this project,” he said. “We’ll have brick arches, using the arch styling that is indigenous to this area. The majority of the exterior will be brick and stucco. It will also have some European themes, with a lot of outdoor cafes and open space. We’ll have fountains in the promenade area. It will also be pedestrian friendly, with a lot of green grass and areas to eat outside.
The central point of the Galleria is the promenade, a large, pedestrian-only common space where people can gather and with a tall clock tower at one end.
Alcoves for Artists
“Our design includes a series of alcoves where artists will be able to set up on Saturdays and Sundays to paint or sell their art,” Tipton said. “We want this to be a comfortable setting where people can gather, meet their friends, do some shopping.”
The response to the project has been very positive, Tipton said. “I’ve never had a project generate so much excitement and acceptance. We didn’t have a single vote against us. We went through the Raleigh planning process in four and a half months.”
The response from potential retail tenants has also been strong, Tipton said. “A lot of retailers now are looking for opportunities to get into pedestrian-friendly neighborhood projects.”
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