Local News

Costs For Raleigh's New Convention Center Go Up Again

Posted November 28, 2006

The price of Raleigh's new convention center is going up again. WRAL has learned construction costs are expected to go over budget by at least another $10 million.

The day Raleigh and Wake County broke ground on the project, it was estimated to cost $192 million. In February, that price spiked to $215 million. Now, the price looks closer to $225 million -- more than $33 million above what was first thought.

"Hopefully this will be the last change," said Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker.

Officials said most of the blame goes to higher material costs.

With contingency funds completely wiped out, the city needs to come up with the money. Officials want to use additional dollars from taxes paid largely by visitors.

"We are very fortunate that the funds coming in from the hotel, motel, and prepared food taxes are actually far more than this adjustment. So hopefully, it's something the current formula can handle," Meeker said.

Financial planners had originally made a conservative estimate on what they would get from the taxes. They predicted a 5 percent growth in the prepared food tax and 3 percent growth in the hotel-motel tax. In reality, the numbers are 12 and 14 percent, respectively.

The question now is: Will county commissioners, who were also told the cost of the project wouldn't go up, approve this new funding?

City Council Member Jessie Taliaferro said she hopes so. She's not happy with the budget increase, but doesn't want the quality of the project compromised. She also doesn't want costs shifted from capital to operating expenses because, she said, Raleigh taxpayers would then pay for them.

Even as the costs and how to handle them are debated, Taliaferro said she's not convinced the new price is the final price.

"I think it's foolish to say 'No more increases,' because we are not far enough along in the project to give those guarantees," she said.

A joint meeting of the Raleigh City Council and the Wake County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to happen in two weeks. That's when the officials will officially decide how to proceed on the project, which is scheduled to open in the summer of 2008.

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