Local News

Raleigh Council To Revisit North Hills East Financing

Posted July 11, 2006

— A developer wanting to build on the success of a mixed-use property in midtown Raleigh asked the City Council on Tuesday to help expand it.

The City Council will revisit the issue again in two weeks.

Developer John Kane, who has committed $700 million to the North Hills East project, asked the city to commit $75 million for open space and a 5,000-space parking deck.

The proposed 45-acre development would be located directly across the street from North Hills, which sits right outside the Interstate 440 Beltline on Six Forks Road.

Plans involve demolishing several buildings along Six Forks and building more retail space, as well as condominiums, retail space, open space and offices. A greater emphasis would be on working and living.

Kane proposed a new financing method called Amendment One, or self-financing bonds, which would allow the city to borrow money to make public improvements and pay back the loan with increased property taxes generated from the project.

"The incremental tax increase is extraordinary," Kane said. "At the end of the day, over 50 years after the debt has been repaid, the incremental tax increase going back to the taxpayers is in excess of a half-billion dollars. We think it's a good investment."

No one seems to dispute the numbers, but there is a debate about the city's economic development policies related to incentives for private development.

"The amount of money, $75 million, really is a lot," said Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker, who has said he is not opposed to the development itself. "The only other grant we've made to economic development was to RBC and that was one-one hundredth of that."

Others Council members, however, have argued that the long-term benefits to the city cannot be ignored.

"We have a very direct tangible payback on this investment," said Raleigh Councilman Tommy Craven.

Kane has said in previous interviews with WRAL that without city and county support, the North Hills East development would look much different.

"If we don't get the financing, it certainly will affect the type of development we do there," Kane said last week. "We hate to go in that direction."

For example, without the parking decks, Kane explained that the project would resemble an "urban sprawl" with "fields of surface parking." Having the decks would enable a more "urban" development with more land being set aside for parks and a pedestrian friendly environment.


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