Local News

Raleigh Committee Wants More Study On New Cultural Center

Posted August 1, 2006

— A Raleigh City Council committee on Tuesday endorsed a funding plan for more study on a new African-American cultural center in downtown.

If approved, the Raleigh City Council and Wake County Board of Commissioners would each contribute $33,000 for the study. Another $66,000 would have to be raised privately.

The proposed 55,000-square-foot center would sit in the 500 block of Wilmington Street about a block from the city's new convention center and house three different black cultural centers: the

Pope House Museum Foundation

,

African-American Cultural Complex

and the

North Carolina Martin Luther King Resource Center

.

"They have similar programs, similar missions. There was some compatibility," said Lewis Myers, director of business development for the consulting firm Freelon Group.

Raleigh leaders said they hope the proposed center would attract visitors to the downtown area.

"If the three projects are together, they can really have some synergy and become a tourist attraction," said Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker.

Meeker said it is a way to attract a diverse crowd downtown. He proposes the $20 million project partly be funded with the hotel and motel tax.

Although many support the concept, there are hurdles to overcome. Downtown property is much more expensive than it used to be. And the land being targeted would have to be bought from several different property owners.

Raleigh City Councilman James West said he believes there is a common framework to make it happen. He is now working to get it fully aligned.

"If you look at the city and its diversity, the legacy of African-American culture, it would be very unfortunate if we didn't have something downtown to reflect that great diversity," he said.

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