— Work began Thursday on a new mixed-use development in Raleigh’s warehouse district.

Richmond-based Capital Square opened 297 apartments and 10,000 square feet of retail space on West South Street.

Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin attended the groundbreaking Thursday afternoon.

“It really comes down to housing choice, supply and demand,” Baldwin said. “So the more housing we have, the better it is for everyone.”

WRAL News spoke with Whitson Huffman, Chief Strategy and Investment Officer of Capital Square.

Huffman said the apartment building will be 20 stories high and feature a rooftop pool.

“A lot of what we’ve spent our time doing is figuring out what residents want and how can we improve that residential experience,” he said. “You’ll feel more like you’re at the Four Seasons or the Ritz Carlton or the beach when you’re at the pool than in an apartment building.”

Developers told WRAL News that the average monthly rental rate in Capital Square would be around $2,600, about $1,000 more than the average monthly rent in the city of Raleigh, which is around $1,500. $. The project does not include any affordable housing.

The building will also include a “skylounge”, which will include a dining table and a demonstration kitchen. Residents can rent the space and enjoy the view of downtown Raleigh.

There will also be a 3,500 square foot health club and spa, a pet spa and gated parking.

Teams are building the development in an Opportunity Zone, which is one of five in the city of Raleigh. Opportunity Zones allow developers to defer or reduce taxes by reinvesting capital gains in low-income communities. Designed under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act 2017, Opportunity Zone Funds are intended to foster economic growth by providing tax benefits to incentivize private investment in Opportunity Zones designated.

“The way we look at Opportunity Zones is that we’re not looking to displace anybody,” Huffman said. “If you look today, there is no one living here on this site today.”

The US Census Bureau shows that approximately 53,000 people living in the City of Raleigh’s Opportunity Zones experienced poverty from 2019 to 2020.

“I think they should consider our lives, our livelihoods and stop gentrifying us because that’s what’s happening,” said Iesha Cobb, president of the Heritage Park residents’ council, development of Capital Square.

Data from ATTOM Data Solutions shows that the average median income of people living in Wake County Opportunity Areas is $55,000. Wake County’s median income is just over $83,000.

In April, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators and representatives introduced the Opportunity Zones Transparency, Expansion and Enhancement Act. If signed into law later this year, the bill would be the first substantial update to the Opportunity Zone Act since it was signed into law in 2017. The bill:

  • Extend the allowable capital gains deferral period to 2028
  • Require the extinction of certain designations of Opportunity Zone Sectors
  • Imposing new reporting requirements to promote transparency
  • Create a new entity, the “State and Community Dynamism Fund”, to provide assistance to state and local governments

Huffman said Capital Square bought the land for the building at the height of the pandemic.

“April 2020 was an exceptionally difficult time, as we all remember…but I think what it represents is our commitment and interest in Raleigh, regardless of what was going on in the world. We knew that the city was going to do well and continue to do well and we are very happy to have plows on the land and clearing [now],” he said.

Work on the project is expected to be completed in the summer of 2024.