Fate of Raleigh’s first Char-Grill in question as new tower envisioned

Jun 29, 2022

A development hotspot in downtown Raleigh could see a new tower rise on the site of an iconic Raleigh eatery.

Developer Wilson | Blount is planning a new mixed-use development across seven parcels in the Glenwood South area. The site is located directly across from the Bloc83 development and includes the original Char-Grill location along Hillsborough Street and the historic Elmwood home off North Boylan Avenue.

The parcels are currently owned by separate parties, according to Wake County Property Records. Wilson | Blount is in the due diligence process of purchasing all the lots, a company spokesperson said. TradeMark Properties is representing the sellers in the transaction and NAI Tri Properties is representing Wilson | Blount.

The assemblage totals two acres and includes 618 and 630 Hillsborough St.; 10, 14 and 16 N. Boylan Ave.; and 607 and 615 Willard Place. That includes the Char-Grill location, four historic homes and the site of the former Taylor’s Capital Service Station. The developer plans to submit a rezoning application to bring the lots to a downtown mixed-use zoning for up to 20 stories.

Combined, the properties have an assessed value of around $10 million.

A neighborhood meeting will be held on July 12 to discuss the rezoning. The meeting will be held by Jamie Schwedler of Parker Poe. Schwedler did not respond to Triangle Business Journal requests for comment. Current zoning for the lots varies, ranging from neighborhood mixed-use up to seven stories to office mixed-use up to three stories. Parts of the assemblage are in the North Boylan Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District.

“We have deep roots and respect for our community,” said Michael Blount, managing principal at Wilson | Blount. “This site is home to structures that are part of Raleigh’s unique history. We’re taking great care in our approach to responsibly honor this history as we plan for a new, first-in-class development that will make a positive impact in our community.”

Char-Grill opened its first location at 618 Hillsborough St. In 1959. Known for its charbroiled burgers, the chain has since grown to nine locations. Wake County records show Char-Grill owners Ryon Wilder and Mahlon Aycock own the property.

Wilson | Blount is planning to “incorporate” Char-Grill in the new development, according to a press release.

“This project gives us the opportunity to upgrade our facility to better serve our customers in the future. We are excited to partner with Wilson | Blount on the next generation of Char-Grill,” Wilder and Aycock said in the release. “This isn’t ‘goodbye’ at all. It’s ‘see-you-soon.'”

Next door, the 630 Hillsborough St. space is the former home of Taylor’s Capital Service Station auto shop. Owner Timothy S. Wood had plans approved by the city to build a locally-owned restaurant concept at the site, but plans fell through and Wood put the lot on the market earlier this year.

Three of the parcels are owned by T.R. Ashe Development LLC, an entity established to act as owner or renter of office space for civil engineering firm Smith Gardner Inc. All three lots hold houses built in 1910. The firm’s website lists two of the homes as office locations for the company.

The historic Elmwood property, located at 16 N. Boylan Ave., dates back even further to 1812. It was home to the first Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, John Louis Taylor. The home spans 4,600 square feet according to property records and is owned by William B. Little and Cathryn M. Little.

The nearby mixed-use development Bloc83 made history late last year as the largest single real estate transaction in downtown Raleigh’s history when it changed hands for $330 million. A third tower is now in the works for Bloc83, this time reaching 18 stories at 615 W. Morgan St. and 117 S. Boylan Ave. Next door, Neari Coleman Associates and Tennessee has plans for up to 20 stories of development.