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Economy puts brakes on downtown tower plans

Posted June 2, 2009
Updated June 3, 2009

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— Raleigh City Council heard on Tuesday that a deal for a downtown high-rise is off the table after a series of delays.

The city sold a half-acre lot at the corner of Lenoir and Salisbury streets, across from the new convention center, to Empire Properties two years ago for $1.44 million. The developer planned to build the 22-story Lafayette tower to house a boutique hotel, offices and 40 condominiums.

The council voted twice in 2008, most recently in August, to extend deadlines for the developer, Empire Properties, to secure financing.

Greg Hatem, owner of Empire Properties, conceded that the economy played a role in the collapse of the plan he set out with in 2007. He asked the council to withdraw his company from any commitment at the site.

He read a statement during Tuesday's meeting outlining the company's many accomplishments downtown and concluding, "This ambitious project is not possible at this time. ... I cannot predict that timeline any more than the best and the brightest leaders in the world can predict when the global economy will recover from current conditions."

The council agreed to cancel the agreement with Empire Properties and solicit new proposals for the plot when the economy improves.


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  • pickles Jun 2, 2009

    why would any city want to be like Charlotte? Its such a dull downtown. Raleigh already has them beat.

  • foetine Jun 2, 2009

    like any developer will want to go through the treatment hatem got from Meekerville, guess the right city brother-in-laws didn't get greased

  • MyNameIsMud Jun 2, 2009

    "Raleigh isnt ready for more big buildings. As much as Raleigh wants its downtown to be like Charlotte's, its got a LONG way to go. You fit about 10 dowtown Raleigh's in Charlotte."

    Both are LONNNNGGG way from Atlanta as well.

  • 1Packfan Jun 2, 2009

    Before we keep cramming buildings downtown, we need to think about the traffic! More buidlings, more office space, more residential means more traffic downtown, and the 3 lane, 1-way roads are not going to contain the additional traffic. It's already a nightmare getting around when there is an event downtown.

    If they don't improve/widen the roads, get better public transportation downtown. I tried the bus - took 2 hours from my house (drive takes about 20 minutes).

  • atc2 Jun 2, 2009

    Time to get a "REAL" developer in here for that site.

    Hey, IMA1973, I know Charlooote like the backof my hand, a few tall buildings, but SOOOOOOO BORING. I know Charlotte people who prefer Raleigh. "The Triangle" is much more diverse, Charlotte, well, just keeps going around an oval, chasing it's tail (bleeding edge city, not leading edge)

  • lma1973 Jun 2, 2009

    Raleigh isnt ready for more big buildings. As much as Raleigh wants its downtown to be like Charlotte's, its got a LONG way to go. You fit about 10 dowtown Raleigh's in Charlotte.

  • Fun Jun 2, 2009

    Yes,another day in Meekerville. So Greg Hatem owns the lot? Or did the city buy it back to maintain control? Way to much government in our lives folks.

  • Bendal1 Jun 2, 2009

    Interesting; the N&O's article on this issue says the developer, not the city, ended their involvement, citing the current bad economic situation.

    From the N&O: "Developer Greg Hatem told the City Council today his firm is ending its involvement in a key downtown project that has been delayed because of lack of funding."

    "At today’s meeting, Allen again recommended that the city terminate its contract with Empire."

    It's clear though, that the developer believes the deadlines set by the city are unrealistic and cannot be met. Yet another failed and grandiose plan by Raleigh trying to be a "big city" with all the "big city" bells and whistles...