Plans for 20-story tower on original Char-Grill site flame out

Apr 18, 2024

Plans for a 20-story tower in a growing corridor of Downtown Raleigh have hit a wall.

Developer Wilson | Blount last year received rezoning approval for seven parcels along Hillsborough Street in Glenwood South, including the original Char-Grill location and the historic Elmwood house. But the company now confirms its plans for a new building are on hold.

The Raleigh firm was under contract to buy the land in 2022 but has since withdrawn from the agreement. And no site plans for the development have been submitted to the City of Raleigh.

Sources close to Char-Grill said that as far as they knew, the development was “dead in the water and isn’t happening.”

A condition of the rezoning was that Wilson | Blount must file a certificate of appropriateness application with the Raleigh Historic Development Commission for the relocation of the Elmwood house, which sits at the corner of North Boylan Avenue and Willard Place. Site plans won’t be approved by the city until that is complete.

A sign has been posted outside the Elmwood house advertising office space available for lease. William Little, who owns the house, declined to speak on any future project that might involve Elmwood and the Char-Grill locations, but confirmed he is looking to lease space in the house.

“We have professional space,” he said.

Little would not say how long a lease he was seeking for the space. However, a Craigslist ad posted on April 15 listed the available space showing that the rental period was monthly. The ad lists 1,525 square feet of office suites available starting at $950 a month.

Elmwood is one of the few homes remaining in Raleigh that was standing before the Civil War and dates to around 1813. In the 1870s it was owned by Samuel Ashe, a former Confederate officer and a relative of Little.

William said his priority is to preserve Elmwood.

“Whether it stays where it is or is moved in the future, it’s my goal for it to always be there,” he said.

Relocating the home could have been the barrier to Wilson | Blount moving forward with the development. According to, moving a house costs around $14 a square foot, making the Elmwood house move cost about $65,000. But that doesn’t include permitting, moving any utilities or other infrastructure and building a new foundation.

When asked if the cost and work associated with the relocation of the home was a factor in delaying the development, Wilson | Blount did not respond.

The tower project would’ve incorporated the Char-Grill location. The new zoning, approved by City Council in March 2023, is downtown mixed-use up to 20 stories. It allows up to 507 residential units, 65,734 square feet of retail space and 356,356 square feet of office space.

The zoning has several conditions to ensure preservation of the Elmwood house and keep the Char-Grill location open in some form.

The project first came to light in 2022, and caused a bit of an uproar over the future of the Char-Grill location, which opened in 1959.

The site is across from the Bloc83 development, which includes One Glenwood and Tower II. Those properties were sold in 2021 for more than $300 million.