Local News

Stucco At Center Of Latest Downtown Raleigh Development Debate

Posted February 20, 2006

— Fake stucco is becoming a major sticking point for a proposed four-star hotel in downtown Raleigh to be built in conjunction with the city's new convention center.

The hotel that will go in the spot where Raleigh's old convention center used be was supposed to cost $60 million, but because of rising construction costs, the price keeps climbing. Now, it's closer to about $70 million.

Fake stucco, also known as EIFS, on the front of the proposed Marriott Hotel is a cheaper alternative, but opponents say the material looks cheap, too.

"This hotel will, in large part, determine the success of this convention center," said Jim Hobbs, the director of the Hospitality Alliance of North Carolina.

Hobbs said the hospitality industry -- through food and occupancy taxes -- is helping to fund the downtown projects, with $335 million currently invested.

"We certainly feel we are entitled to express our opinion," said Hobbs, who believed EIFS was never even part of the plan.

But Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said that the agreement does not specifically bar EIFS.

"That's the reason it's being considered," Meeker said.

He points to North Hills Mall as an attractive example of the synthetic stucco.

"The real issue is, I think, one of maintenance and how it looks over time (rather) than how it looks on Day One," Meeker said.

Meeker said there is no final decision on whether to use the synthetic stucco. The City Council is expected to hold a public discussion on the issue Tuesday and could then take a vote on whether to use it on the hotel.

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