Developer reignites plan for project around Raleigh parking garage
Posted December 2, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — After years of being covered by banners, the gray cement walls of a downtown Raleigh parking garage will soon be surrounded by the mix of offices and shops that a developer envisioned years ago.
The so-called L Building was supposed to wrap around a nine-story parking deck at 216 W. Cabarrus St. owned by Wake County. The parking deck opened almost five years ago, but the recession put plans for the building on hold, as developer Empire Properties had trouble getting financing in a tight credit market.
"By the time we worked everything out, we got caught up in the financial crisis," Empire founder Greg Hatem said Monday of the project he initially proposed to Wake County officials in 2006.
To avoid penalties the county could assess for the delay, Empire negotiated a three-year extension to its deal in late 2010, promising to cover the parking garage's cement exterior with banners forming a mural.
Those banners have now been removed, and Hatem and local officials broke ground Monday on the $26 million L Building, which now will include 83 apartments in addition to street-level retail and several floors of office space fronting McDowell and Davie streets.
Balfour-Beatty Construction plans to move its headquarters to the L Building, Hatem said, and he is in talks with other potential tenants, including a medical office, a coffee shop and a restaurant.
The project, which is expected to be completed in February 2015, will save local taxpayers about $1.2 million because the county won't have to construct an exterior wall on the parking garage, officials said.
The Downtown Raleigh Alliance said the L Building is among almost $780 million in development underway or planned for the downtown area in the next three years.
"We are starting to see the projects that were held up because of the recession really come back to fruition," said David Diaz, president and chief executive of the booster organization. "In other cities, those projects are not coming back ever. What that points to is that Raleigh's growth and population is really fueling the growth."
On Wednesday, for example, Raleigh officials will help break ground on SkyHouse Raleigh, a $60 million luxury apartment tower at Martin and Blount streets.
Other projects under construction or on the drawing board include the following:
- A $25 million headquarters in the warehouse district for data-sharing firm Citrix Systems.
- The $73 million Union Station transit hub in the warehouse district.
- The Edison, a $160 million four-tower complex planned for a downtown block bounded by Wilmington, Martin, Blount and Davie streets. Two 38-story towers and two 29-story towers would include offices, retail space and high-rise condominiums.
- The $50 million Blount Street Commons project, which mixes new and renovated homes in the historic Blount Street neighborhood.