Historically-conscious yet progressive, Fairview Row in Raleigh, N.C. sets the bar for infill developments in districts with distinct character
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 1920s during 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’s 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.