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Life on Campus at NC State (Hillsborough Edition)

Is Hillsburl in Here?

In the previous post I made, I detailed a lot of the changes that campus has seen in the last few years. Raleigh in general has seen a pretty massive boom of late in terms of overall development and the number of people who call Raleigh home. Hillsborough has seen about as much change as anywhere in the city with new apartments, hotels, restaurants, and bars opening up and down the corridor that runs parallel to State.

I’ve heard a lot of stories about what Hillsborough used to look like, where the street was basically one college bar after another. However, the street declined pretty heavily in terms of popularity with the students through the 1990’s and into the 2000’s. During my early years at State I barely spent any time on Hillsborough. There wasn’t a lot to offer someone who had a meal plan on campus, who didn’t feel like having to navigate past all of the construction equipment, and who was also under 21. However after that construction ended, the street saw a ton of new development, and that has continued up through 2017. With the expansion of downtown Raleigh, and State’s proximity to both downtown and Glenwood South, I doubt you’ll ever see as many bars on Hillsborough as there were during the street’s heyday, but the vast majority of changes have been welcome ones, and have no doubt breathed some new life into the area.

In the last few years, the University has added a few new entryways into campus from Hillsborough, there are now student organized bar hikes up Hillsborough on various holidays, and NCSU has their annual Packapalooza event on Hillsborough every August to welcome back all of the students to campus. Below I’ve detailed a lot of the changes the street’s seen in the last 2-3 years and touched on a few of the ones that are still under development.

Two Guys Pizza:

The old Two Guys Pizza spot got bulldozed in late 2014 and the plan was to build a small apartment building with ground level retail. However once they got the frame of the building up, a dispute began between the management company and the construction contractor. The development of the building has been in limbo for the last 2 years and a crane from construction has stood behind the spot untouched during that time span. However it sounds like a resolution might be on the way soon and construction could finally resume this fall.


Sadlacks and the old Belltower Mart were demolished a few years ago to make way for the new Aloft Hotel in the same spot. There’s a coffee shop on the ground level, a bar on the 2nd level connected to the hotel, and a Gonza Tacos and Tequila on the ground level as well. It’s definitely a major change to that section of Hillsborough, but has no doubt improved the look of that area pretty drastically.

The Alley:

The Alley sat on Hillsborough for decades under a couple of different names. In the few times I visited during college, it never looked overly crowded and there was a ton of wasted space up in the bar / seating area. I was hoping that a sports bar or something along those lines would eventually take over the spot, but the last owners decided to move The Alley to Durham, and Target bought the space to put up a small format concept store. Construction is on-going in the space, but it will be interesting to see how the Target does in that spot once it opens due to the limited parking and a relatively new CVS that also opened up less than a mile away that should feature a similar product offering.


There are roughly 687,491 new apartment buildings that have gone up on Hillsborough in the last 2 – 3 years. The largest of these new buildings is Stanhope, which is right across the street from East Village. Stanhope was built directly in front of Valentine Commons, which was built across the railroad tracks from campus and beside UT back in 2010. There’s a pizza restaurant, an IHOP, and a CVS in the ground level retail spaces beneath Stanhope.

There are two other new, smaller student apartment buildings in front of UT, directly beside Stanhope with ground level retail of their own. There is also a new building across from DH Hill, a larger unit (the Broadloom) that is still under construction across from Tompkins Hall that overlooks the Court of Carolinas, and one down the street next to where the old IHOP stood. The Velvet Cloak Inn has also been demolished and the current plan is to put student housing there as well.

Street Construction:

The City of Raleigh finished their major Hillsborough Street construction back in 2010 on the area of the street running directly next to DH Hill down past Players Retreat. This project involved burying power lines, putting a median down the middle of the street, widening the sidewalks, installing bike lanes, and adding traffic circles throughout the area to help with congestion. An identical project is now underway on the other side of Hillsborough near Nelson Hall that runs up that end of the street past East Village with an estimated completion date of fall 2018.

Restaurants & Bars:

With an influx of foot traffic and lots of new apartments popping up from one end of the street to the other, there have been a good deal of new restaurants that have opened up on the street as well. One place I became a fan of after it opened last year was H-Street Kitchen. H-Street gutted the old textbook shop / McDonalds / movie theater / “adult entertainment” theater that stood there in the years before. H-Street closed this summer on a temporary basis to make some operational changes, but should be back this fall. The menu could’ve used some cheaper food & drink options and some weeknight bar & drink specials to appeal to the college crowd (IMO), but it has a great view of Hillsborough Street from the top level, a massive projector screen to show NCSU games, and features a some pretty awesome NCSU & Hillsborough Street themed art all throughout the establishment.

There’s also a new Italian spot, Bocci Italian, which just opened up next door to H-Street in the spot that had most recently housed McDaids and Porters. One of my favorite spots that’s also opened in the last few years is Red Line Beer & Wine, which is just off Hillsborough on Horne Street. Red Line offers a nice variety of draft and bottled beer selections, and they also make drink deliveries as well.

The classic Hillsborough staples like Mitch’s, EV and PR are there still there, but I’m hoping some new bar & restaurant options might arrive on Hillsborough in the coming years with all of the new activity the street has seen of late, and with all of the additional foot traffic that will be coming to the street brought on by the new apartments on Hillsborough and at Cameron Village.

Maiden Lane:

I was in Theta Chi during college and lived at 20 Maiden Lane at the very end of the street for my junior year. For those that don’t know where this is located, Maiden is directly across from the Bell Tower, one block towards downtown from North Hall.

When I moved into my apartment at our fraternity house, the apartment didn’t have heat, had semi-functional window AC units, and didn’t have completed flooring in the hallway, the bathroom, the kitchen, or in one of the bedrooms. My room also had a massive crack in the wall that made the window AC units obsolete once the weather cooled in the fall. However, the big plus side to living on Maiden was that the rent was dirt cheap and the Bell Tower Mart at the end of the street offered a pretty unique feature in that you simply had to have a pulse in order to buy a case of beer. RIP BT Mart.

I had a lot of great memories on Maiden and it was definitely with mixed emotions when I saw that the houses on the street were all getting bought up and a new development was planned for the area. On the one hand Maiden Lane is a big part of Raleigh’s history and it will be a weird feeling not to be able to drive up Maiden when I visit Raleigh this fall for tailgate & football season. However, with all the development going on in the area – and the condition of the majority of those properties – you had to figure Maiden’s days were numbered.

There’s been a lot of talk in recent months about making a concerted effort to connect Hillsborough Street and Cameron Village to a greater degree. This project is the result of some of that effort as the current plan calls for an apartment building built on Maiden that would stretch from back behind the new Aloft Hotel towards Oberlin Road at Cameron Village. This would certainly fit in with the look of the area around Cameron Village as there have also been 3 large, separate apartment communities built down Oberlin Road in the last couple of years. I would not be surprised if buildings off of Chamberlin and Enterprise Street also become part of the area’s re-development in the coming years.

Players Retreat:

PR is one of those Hillsborough staples that everyone seems to have fond memories of during their time at State. I – like a lot of other State students – opted to spend my 21st birthday there. So in that sense the memories might have some sizable gaps in them, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone from Raleigh who doesn’t love the spot that’s called Hillsborough home for 60+ years.

Earlier this year plans came to light that would drastically change the look of the area. The new plans would keep PR in-tact, but would add an office building, an apartment building, and town homes in close proximity – not to mention a 3 level underground parking garage. I’ve been a big proponent of the growth the area has seen in recent years – and have been hoping that additional parking would soon come to Hillsborough (ideally on top of one of the two large surface lots already in existence) – but it will be interesting to see the development of this particular project. The current plans are certainly massive in scale and this amount of construction would no doubt create some long-term changes to traffic flow and the walkability of that area until construction is complete.

Campus Updates:

Centennial Campus

This new development on Centennial was made public knowledge on July 31st where State announced that 32 acres of land on Centennial would be developed for office, lab, residential, and retail space. State has put out an RFQ for development firms and there should be more on this in the coming months once State selects who they want to carry out the design – and eventual construction – of these new buildings.

If you’re planning to visit Raleigh this fall during the upcoming tailgate & football season, then I’d recommend at least taking a drive down Hillsborough. I graduated from State in December 2013 and the street has seen some pretty wide scale changes even since then. I only covered some of the larger changes happening in very close proximity to campus, but even more is in development farther down the street as you near downtown Raleigh.