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'Public Living Room' to Feature Retail, Fountains

Posted August 7, 2007

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— Glass retail pavilions, light towers and water fountains will become part of City Plaza at the south end of Fayetteville Street next year under a plan adopted Tuesday by the City Council.

The plaza's design has been up in the air for a year since the council nixed a design by renowned Spanish artist Jaume Plensa. City officials complained the design would block the view along Fayetteville Street.

Local residents, artists and city officials held a series of workshops in the ensuing months to hammer out details of a new design.

Officials want City Plaza, next to the new downtown convention center and near the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, to become Raleigh's "public living room," offering a gathering place for local residents and a space for public events.

Under the design plans approved Tuesday, four 1,000-square-foot glass pavilions would be built at the four corners of the plaza and would house retail shops. The pavilions would be constructed, owned and leased by The Simpson Organization, which owns the Bank of America building next to City Plaza.

"We've had two national name-brand prospects that are very interested in the pavilions," said Gil Hearn, real estate asset manager for Simpson, which also owns the land and parking deck beneath the plaza.

"From my standpoint, the taxpayers of Raleigh, N.C., are getting a phenomenal deal on these four pavilions," Councilman Philip Isley said.

Other design elements approved for the plaza include four light towers and four water fountains, which allow for changing light patterns and water flows. Trees, structures for shade, flexible seating and improved paving also are in the design.

"This is very beautiful, and I think they've done a wonderful job," Councilman Thomas Crowder said. "(But) I think the pavilions themselves are just chewing up too much of the public space."

The council plans to vote next month on providing $16 million to complete the new design. If the funding is approved, construction would begin this fall, with an eye toward completing it at the same time the convention center is completed in late 2008.

26 Comments

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  • ncwebguy Aug 9, 2007

    Then make (convention goers) pay for it

    Umm, when they pay for their hotel room, pay for their dinner, pay for a rental car or taxi to get around, pay for meals and snacks, they are paying for this project. And the Convention Center.

    They are "paying for it" the same way people are "paying" for 540 east of Capital Blvd, "paying" for schools in the furthest corners of Wake County, and "paying" for "free" parking at malls and grocery stores.

    The free parking is available nights and weekends (other than major events) in the city's parking structures on Salisbury and Wilmington Streets -- parallel to Fayetville, one block east and west. In Crabtree-relative terms people on here might understand, that's from about the food court to the Gap.

    Police ride bicycles and Segways to efficiently cover downtown beats.

  • colliedave Aug 8, 2007

    It is intended to be more of a living room for convention-goers and condo residents than people further away

    Then make them pay for it

  • richard2 Aug 8, 2007

    Where is the free parking and extra police?

  • ncwebguy Aug 8, 2007

    Most of the Fayetville Street corridor is not wide enough to support this. But the area targeted -- in front of the Bank of America and BB&T buildings -- *is* wide enough. Those buildings are set further back from the rest of the street. The Sheraton's bar and atrium are close to the street, but BB&T is further back. The same with Progress Energy I (on the street) and Bank of America (set back).

    The pavillions (which could house a coffee shop or store), built with *NO* taxpayer dollars, will bring those buildings closer to the street, and the spaces inbetween will form a plaza. They will also create jobs, generate sales and food taxes, etc.

    It is intended to be more of a living room for convention-goers and condo residents than people further away.

  • colliedave Aug 8, 2007

    This project is brought to you by the same folks who gave us the "Time/Light" tower on Capital Blvd.

  • QT3.14 Aug 8, 2007

    I hope they've worked into the budget all that will need to be spent on increased police presence, graffiti removal and urine clean up in our "public living room".

  • Dizzle Aug 8, 2007

    Great- now the homeless can hang out here instead of Moore's Square.

    "From my standpoint, the taxpayers of Raleigh, N.C., are getting a phenomenal deal on these four pavilions," Councilman Philip Isley said.

    Whatever~

  • Scarecrow Cow Aug 7, 2007

    I like the idea of a pleasant public space to go and spend time, but I don't know if it's going to work like they want it to. Worst case scenario is we spend four times the projected amount on an ugly plaza that no one wants to visit except for drug dealers looking for a new place to peddle their wares.

  • ladyblue Aug 7, 2007

    Let the good folks sit out there and see how long before the gang thugs come by and rob them of their big fat wallets and fancy pocketbooks. They can run through those streets like rabbits and never be caught.

  • Student Nurse Aug 7, 2007

    What is the point of beautifying Fayetteville street when all the streets that lead to it are narrow, crowded, closed and/or filled with service trucks blocking the lanes? I had to drive downtown last week and I decided to swing by Fayetteville street to see what the deal was. Big Whoop.

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