Downtown South

As South Saunders Street winds its way northward into the heart of Downtown Raleigh, it passes by this large swath of underdeveloped land at its junction with I-40. Its close proximity to both the downtown and the highway, and its sheer size, make this a prime location for a new district anchored by an MLB stadium.

Satellite image of the Penmarc location, looking at the downtown skyline
The abandoned Bain Water Treatment Facility (Owned by Empire Properties) could be the centerpiece of a new mixed-use district.

Bounded by I-40, South Saunders Street, and Penmarc Drive, the plot contains a small hotel, some industrial buildings, and two large, open fields. Its overall size and proximity to I-40, the primary north-south artery into downtown, and the Capital Area Greenway make the Penmarc Drive area an especially attractive spot for a Major League Baseball stadium complex.

What is interesting with Penmarc was that almost all of this land was owned by a single private owner who purchased it in 2010 and had been sitting on it ever since. That was until Raleigh’s leading developer, John Kane purchased the land with the initial intention of bringing Major League Soccer to Raleigh and having its stadium anchor his district.

In that process, the Downtown South land was zoned for a stadium, however, MLS fell through, with Charlotte receiving the team in 2019. That has left Kane with prime real estate, zoned for a stadium and in need of a major anchor. No expansion city has things set up quite this perfectly. But Raleigh does.

An interesting idea would be to activate the Water Treatment plant by re-using it (food hall/brewery/hotel) as an anchor for a new adjacent district with the stadium right next door.

This location would give easy access to both fans coming in from the surrounding metro area, as well as downtown residents. Its location would also mitigate grid traffic in downtown proper.

The Experience

Located adjacent to I-40, the Penmarc location would give Raleigh an opportunity to expand its downtown footprint to the south while also giving visitors easy ingress and egress from one of the areas major highways. With the greenway running through the property, connections to the new Dix Park, the State Farmers market and the ever growing Maywood neighborhood via bike would be an exciting and peaceful way to get to the ballpark. The opportunity to build out a new mixed-use district on the property's east end (anchored by the old Bain Water Treatment warehouse) would give this location a destination feel, somewhat like the Tobacco Campus in Durham.


Triangle mass-transit infrastructure improvements are still in the planning phases. In the meantime, an urban stadium would still need to be accessible by car, bike, and foot. Not only is the Penmarc site directly accessible by the I-40 exit at South Saunders Street, it's rimmed by the Capital Area Greenway on its southern and eastern edges. This greenway access links the site to NC State's Centennial Campus, Dix Park, and points north and east. Furthermore, Highway 401 would provide direct access from Garner and points south.

By the time the stadium is buit, Raleigh should be finished with the Southern Cooridor of their BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) project, which would weave down Wilmington St. The would put a transit stop within walking distance of the stadium.

Surrounding Community

The Penmarc Drive area is largely undeveloped. A thriving community is literally waiting to happen here. An MLB stadium could be the spark that ignites development and creates a buzzing link between downtown Raleigh and Garner. I-40 and Highway 401 could provide the east/west and north/south lifeblood to make this the most active corner of town. Mixed-use development on the northern rim would enhance the Caraleigh neighborhood experience as well.