November 30, 2022

A local group is looking to develop a small property in downtown Raleigh — possibly with a hotel.
Blount Property Partners has asked the City of Raleigh to change the zoning of 423 S. Blount St. The 0.13-acre lot is located in the southeast section of downtown Raleigh near Shaw University.
Blount Property Partners plans to develop the property themselves, and could potentially put a hotel at the site, though plans are not yet finalized as the group is still in the early stages.
“It’s a perfect location, it’s very central. It’s kind of a hidden gem, in my opinion,” Souheil Al-Awar of Blount Property Partners said. “It’s practically across the street from Red Hat. We just think that side of town is going to be really booming.”
The site is currently a gravel parking lot and is zoned for development of up to three stories. A hotel would continue a surge in the building of hotels in downtown Raleigh, which has long had modest hotel options compared to other cities its size. But the city, in recent years, has added a number of new options, including the Longleaf Hotel, The Casso (formerly The Origin) and the AC Hotel on Glenwood Avenue.
The request is asking the city to bump the allowed development level to up to 12 stories while also removing the historic district designation that the lot currently has.
The property is part of the Prince Hall Historic Overlay District and is directly beside the Prince Hall Masonic Temple Building. The rezoning request includes the stipulation that the property owners will work to preserve the Masonic Temple.
Unlike much of the commercial real estate activity seen in recent months, the property owners aren’t after the highest zoning allowance possible. Also in downtown Raleigh, a development group is seeking a 40-story rezoning request for a property that includes the Berkeley Cafe on Martin Street. This month, a 20-story rezoning was approved for the historic Raleigh Depot in the Warehouse District.
“In my opinion, it needs to be within the scale of the neighborhood and what’s around it,” Al-Awar said. “I didn’t think, from an architectural standpoint, that more than 12 stories was something that made sense in that area.”
The rezoning request is currently under review by the city until Oct. 10.
Blount Property Partners is led by Shervin Tahssili, owner of Tuscany Construction Group, and Al-Awar, a local architect. The group was founded earlier this year, according to state records, but Tahssili and Al-Awar both have long histories in the area.
A rezoning request submitted by the group for an assemblage in Glenwood South was approved this month. The properties at 107, 117, 123 and 125 Glenwood Ave. are now cleared for up to 20 stories of development, though the group was originally seeking 40 stories.
A neighborhood meeting to discuss the Blount Street rezoning was held in July. Attendees discussed concern for the preservation of the Masonic Temple, city records show. The temple was built in 1906 and served as a meeting place and an office building for Black professionals for decades, according to Visit Raleigh. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Blount Property Partners has been working with the property’s owners, Al-Awar said.
“We are in a discussion to help them renovate the building and bring it back to its old form,” he said. “We’ve had meetings with them for months now, trying to secure a way to get that building renovated and back to being a landmark for the neighborhood again, as it was in the past.”
Records also show that the new development plans to use the Red Hat Parking Deck for parking services through a valet system.
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