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Visitor Center Possible for Capital City

Posted March 1, 2007
Updated March 2, 2007

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— North Carolina's capital city could soon have its own visitor's center with $28 million allocated in the governor's latest budget.

But some say it would be difficult to rally support for the project because of more pressing issues in state.

"I certainly think we need one," Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake, said. "I think we have a huge highway problem. We are way behind on infrastructure needs, and I'd have a hard time supporting $28 million dollars."

But tourism officials say a high-profile, easy-access Capital City Visitors Center is needed. A small kiosk inside the North Carolina Museum of History now serves as the sole location for visitors looking to get information about state attractions.

Many visitors say it is hard to find.

"I wasn't sure what building it was in this row of buildings and I asked two or three people,” said visitor Beth Dixon, who lives in Ashe County

At one time, a capital area visitors center did exist in an old building on Blount Street, but it closed about four years ago.

Since then, leaders say the amount of people seeking out information has dropped 75 percent. A new center, they say, could mean increased revenue for the state.

“This is an opportunity to come in, get information on the city and the state, and hopefully, it will keep them there another day or keep them within the state another significant amount of time,” said David Heinl, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Heinl said visitors also need a safe drop-off and gathering facility for the 324,000 students who visit downtown Raleigh each year.

Instead of eating on the ground, students would have a place to store and eat their lunch.

The plan calls for a 27,000 square-foot building and large plaza in a parking lot across from the Archives and History Building. It includes 400 underground parking spaces.

Supporters say the price is a way to build on an industry already bringing in more than $14 billion each year statewide.
12 Comments

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  • mrcrosby Mar 3, 2007

    who do they think is going to visit this proposed visitors center. Since when does anybody think of Raleigh NC as a tourist hotspot. the visitor center makes as much sense as the new convention center, a big waste of money. maybe they can put the visitor center in 1 of the round about on Hillsborough St, that way we can tear them both down at the same time after it become apparent how much of a waste of money they both are

  • RidingAround Mar 2, 2007

    If there is such a great need for a visitors center, why not utilize an existing building on the Dorothea Dix Campus. There would be room for plenty of parking and it would make a "safe drop off and gathering facility..."

  • happilychildfree Mar 2, 2007

    $28 million to put up a visitors center so people could find the only 5 or 6 attractions in what could possibly be the most boring city in America? (and I have lived here my whole life) Hmmm... no thanks. Spruce up the website. How about let's make Fayetteville Street a plaza of some kind. Maybe shut down the street and turn it into a mall where people could gather and be social during big downtown events or have a quiet lunch with the bums. Let tear down Memorial Auditorium and put a giant Ferris Wheel or roller coaster. Maybe some flying art or lights overhead that scroll "Eat at Joe's: 24/7. :D

    OR PAVE SOME ROADS AROUND HERE AND FINISH I-540!!!!

  • mom2threecld Mar 2, 2007

    28 million dollars would help our school shortage problem. better yet, devise a program for all these folks on welfare that are able to work, give them 36 months of paid wtcc tuition,36 month housing, 36 month welfare and it's over, get an education and a job in 36 months then no more money. it'd be cheaper than welfare and food stamps from age 16 to 65

  • Wakenative Mar 2, 2007

    I enjoy going downtown. The museums, pubs, and the architecture. But then again I enjoy things that tend to be esoteric in nature when compared to the general public. I also have plenty of friends that enjoy the same.

  • superman Mar 2, 2007

    More funds spent for a dying city. Information can be requested thru the same web site that distributes state maps. Nothing to see in downtown except a walking tour to see the outside of the buildings? Spend the money on making a nice movie of the state and make it available to the schools. And I cant imagin anyone not having a computer or at least access to one! The bulk of the visitors to downtown--surely must be school students and they would have computers in the schools-- hopefully. In my wildest dream-- I can not understand why any adult would wanna visit downtown and stay in a motel room. The only reason might be that they would have a place to park.

  • Wakenative Mar 2, 2007

    P.S. for the WRAL internet content editors, shouldn't it be "Capitol" as in pertaining to government, not "Capital" pertaining to resources. Don't know why I haven't noticed it before, but it kind of slapped me in the face today.

  • 1Raleigh native Mar 2, 2007

    What is there in Raleigh to visit? State government? almost every library has a computer that you can look things up on the internet.

    Lulli - amen to that... a raise would be nice and better if it's equal for all state employees not just treating the teachers

  • nccruzer Mar 2, 2007

    spiritwarriorwoman, when you say "Many people coming to NC don't even know Raleigh is its capital", then I would say that our money is better spent on a better education system than a visitor center.

  • spiritwarriorwoman Mar 2, 2007

    Not everyone is lucky enough to have the internet ya know. Many people coming to NC don't even know Raleigh is its capital, believing that Charlotte is because it's a bigger city and is better equipped to handle visitors. Therefore, I believe this is a good idea whose time has long since passed if Raleigh wants to mean anything at all to major corporations looking towards NC for facilities. If RTP weren't nearby, I don't think Raleigh would have any leg to stand on with regard to attracting new business, and oh yes, new jobs for Raleigh residents. God bless. Rev. RB

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