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Meeker: North Hills Doesn't Deserve Public Funding

Posted August 16, 2007

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— Mayor Charles Meeker sent a sharply worded memo Thursday to City Council members, outlining his opposition to providing a local developer with $75 million in public financing for a planned project.

Developer John Kane has asked the city to underwrite a parking deck for his North Hills East project. The $800 million mix of shops, offices, residences and a retirement community would sit on 45 acres along the Interstate 440 Beltline at Six Forks Road.

The tax-increment financing Kane has requested would involve the city's borrowing the money and repaying the loan with revenue generated from higher tax valuations on the project and nearby properties. The city would pay more than $140 million over the 20-year life of the loan.

Meeker stated three reasons for his opposition to Kane's request: It's bad public policy, Kane is underestimating the development he could undertake without public money, and a state law prohibits any refund of paid property taxes.

North Hills East would sit across Six Forks Road from Kane's thriving North Hills retail, office and condominium project. Kane also has already struck a deal for an office building and a residential project at North Hills East.

"Given all of these factors, it does not make sense for the city to intervene in the market to cause development to occur that the market would otherwise not support," Meeker wrote.

Kane said he has been waiting for more than a year for the City Council to develop a policy governing public support of private developments.

"I'm not sure why he's attacking our project when they haven't even developed a policy," Kane told WRAL.

Meeker also pointed to projects near Crabtree Valley Mall and along Oberlin Road to demonstrate that dense developments can occur without public support. Kane has said that without the city's help, North Hills East would more closely resemble a strip mall than his mixed-use North Hills development.

But Kane said he wouldn't determine the density of development at North Hills East. Under the guidelines of a public-private partnership approved last month by the Wake County Board of Commissioners, a third-party adviser would oversee the development's density, he said.

"What we have proposed is in line with the county's policy," he said.

Meeker also cited state law barring refunds of property taxes and said the city might need to obtain a legal opinion to determine if using tax revenue to repay a loan amounts to such a rebate.

"By my count, we have over 20 projects in various stages of development that involve structured parking," he wrote. "It would be improper, and indeed inequitable, to provide free parking to one builder of a development with structured parking while all of the other builders are expected to pay for their own parking decks."

71 Comments

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  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Aug 17, 2007

    The problem with Downtown Raleigh is that it's too close to the hood and the high crime area between the capital and Wake Med.

  • angora Aug 17, 2007

    You downtown fear mongers must not do much traveling. Most cities have worked hard to rebuild their downtowns by updating or creating new convention centers and refurbishing old structures for residential use. The Raleigh Convention Center, although not yet open, is already getting booked. There aren't enough hotels to accommodate conference attendees at this point. That will come. When the attendees have lodging, restaurants and shops will follow. Check out Boston's new convention center ... out in the warehouse district boonies one year. The next year came hotels and restaurants.

    I have never felt unsafe in downtown Raleigh and have spent plenty of time there.

  • flashlight Aug 17, 2007

    Regarding the "dried up" market for downtown housing...

    All of the RBC Tower's condominiums are under contract right now.

  • Proloqour622 Aug 17, 2007

    Why should the goverment be paying for Private development in the first place? I have never agreed with this principal, it feel its foolish. Unless the government is going to be part owner then the developer shoudl foot the bill.

  • raysson Aug 17, 2007

    Speaking of North Hills,why is one side of Six Forks Road across the street almost empty? Didn't they used to be a hotel and a couple of office buildings not to mention restaurants? I wonder what are they going to do with the property across the street? They could converted into another shopping experience and bring another major department store on that side. Just like they did with Cameron Village years ago.

  • RaleighRocks Aug 17, 2007

    Oh yeah, I also love going downtown. I never feel afraid. But then again, I am not afraid of people who do not look like me. I love a pot of stew with many different ingredients!

  • RaleighRocks Aug 17, 2007

    Local moderate:

    The steakhouse is called JK's, it is a little expensive, but it is really good. Try it!

  • gnew46 Aug 16, 2007

    Whether his honor likes it or not, tax increment finanacing is perfectly legal. The voters of North Carolina amended the state constitution to allow it several years ago. Whether or not this particular project is politically palatable is another issue.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Aug 16, 2007

    quit wasting money on downtown development that the market economy won't support. quit wasting money on failed ventures like the convention center and the connected hotel. spend money in areas like north hills where people want to shop and visit and not the ghost town downtown that nobody except Meeker and his list liberal downtown friends want to shop and visit.

  • onyourheels2 Aug 16, 2007

    i do not live in raleigh but my family and i do eat and shop a lot in north hills. it seems to be a thriving area where there would be a return on their investment. i have also visited downtown but do not feel very safe with my family down there. i think the city has wasted a tremendous amount of money downtown. if downtown was so thriving, why do they have to schedule all of these events to try to get people downtown? downtown raleigh at night is like durham.

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