Mixed-Use Milestone: Growing, Evolving, and Maintaining Community Character in Raleigh, NC

“Smoky Hollow honors the original spirit of the neighborhood but also gives the new District its own story.”

–Josie Reeves, Kane Realty Corporation

 The Smoky Hollow neighborhood has long been a vital piece of Raleigh, NC’s hardworking history, but with its coal-fired industrial roots firmly in the past, the community begins its next chapter. At the turn of the century, the area was a modest community of mill and railway workers, and the coal-powered trains that ran through town blanketed the low-lying neighborhood in smoke and soot. Over the second half of the 1900s, the neighborhood was razed and its homes completely replaced by industrial buildings. But when partners Kane Realty and Williams Realty broke ground on the multi-phase mixed-use development in 2017, they had one ambitious, overarching goal—bring neighborhood back to Smoky Hollow.

The completion of the project’s second phase in 2020 marked a turning point in welcoming Smoky Hollow’s next generation of businesses, families, and young professionals. Described by Kane Realty Director of Design, Josie Reeves, as “the heart of Smoky Hollow,” a large urban plaza and central pedestrian promenade cultivate community among the people living and working in the development’s three multi-story buildings. “Outdoor activities help to build neighborhoods,” says Reeves. “And the plaza provides social opportunities and reasons to gather and enjoy the new urban amenities.”

But throughout the installation, material selections and the chosen design palette serve to forever remember the region’s industrious heritage. Zigzagging above the plaza, Landscape Forms’ Tumbler catenary lights define the public space and add welcoming warmth to evening events. The design team sought out Tumbler for its minimal, industrial feel. “The catenary light system marries the past with the future,” says Reeves.

Combined with the catenaries, the selection of Landscape Forms’ Motive area lights along the street enables the space to offer pockets of calm and intimacy throughout the larger public gathering area. As with Tumbler, Motive’s industrial style and refined feel appealed to Reeves’ design intent.

The layered lighting program beautifully accentuates the other thoughtful material choices and historic design details featured in the plaza and promenade. Carolina’s trademark red clay brick combines with steel and naturally-weathering wood to invoke the textures once evident in the neighborhood’s factories. Raleigh’s original cobblestone streets are remembered in the pavers along the private roadway and in the paver patterns that mimic the railroad tracks once running throughout the site.

“We were drawn to the idea of letting natural materials come to the forefront. Thinking about the history of the neighborhood and its factories and mills, materiality was critically important in telling the story of Smoky Hollow,” Reeves concludes.

Published on September 21, 2022

Products by Maglin