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Raleigh Law Enforcement Center to Top $225 Million

Posted February 18, 2008

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— A new law enforcement building in downtown Raleigh will cost local taxpayers about the same as the new convention center nearby, according to a report to be presented Tuesday to the City Council.

The 17-story Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center, to be built at the corner of Hargett and McDowell streets next to City Hall, is expected to cost $226 million. The downtown convention center, which is scheduled to open this fall, cost $221 million.

"I honestly don't know how we're going to pay for that," Councilman Philip Isley said. "We clearly need new space. We clearly need a new building. But I'm not entirely sure it needs to be as large as what they're talking about now."

Unlike the convention center, hotel and restaurant taxes would not pay for construction. Also, Wake County wouldn't be splitting the cost of the law enforcement building with Raleigh, as it did with the convention center.

County officials are considering their own major project – a proposed $214 million justice center downtown – to replace the overcrowded county courthouse and provide more office space for county departments.

The 305,000-square-foot safety center will consolidate space for the police department, Raleigh Fire Department and Wake County Emergency Operations Center and 911 dispatch.

The City Council is expected to begin discussing how to finance the project this spring, with construction possibly starting by late 2009.

"It's an expensive project, but also, given the size of Raleigh and the importance of public safety, it's one of those projects we have to look it," Mayor Charles Meeker said.

The cost estimate includes a $42 million contingency fund to avoid the budget changes that plagued the convention center project, where rising materials costs and other factors led to several budget increases.

Because the existing Raleigh Police Department building will be razed to make room for the new building, the city also expects to spend about $9 million to rent space for department administrators for the three-year construction period.

City Manager Russell Allen said it's unclear where the police department would be housed while the new building is under construction.

The building will be designed to meet a "gold standard" of environmental efficiency, including a rooftop system to collect rainwater, a layout that uses sunlight to aid interior lighting and sensors to control lights, heating and air conditioning.

"The old police department, frankly, is obsolete," Meeker said. "For years, we've needed to have the police and fire departments headquartered together."

The council voted several years ago to name the proposed law enforcement center for Lightner, Raleigh's only black mayor. He headed the city from 1973 to 1975, and he also served on the City Council for six years before becoming mayor.

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  • Steve Crisp Feb 19, 2008

    To SheriffTruman:

    So let me see if I understand your argument here.

    A 305,000 square foot structure at $250 per sq. ft. -- and adding for the typical governmental gross inefficiencies -- will run right around $100 million to build. Let's add another $10 million for your additional accessess that are supposedly needed over a mixed use tower of the same size.

    Are you trying to argue that furniture and fixtures will run some $100 to $200 million dollars?

  • colliedave Feb 19, 2008

    There is a large vacant hotel located on Capital Blvd that has been vacant for several years. Why can't this place be bought by the city and instead of spending a fortune to build a new structure. But Herr Meeker is playing with other people's money rather than his own.

  • Humungous Feb 19, 2008

    Another move for the "Charlotte wanna-bes" that will only make Raleigh circle the drain faster than it already is. Is vlaue engineering on anyone's mind up there in the crystal palace?

  • SheriffTruman Feb 19, 2008

    Wheter this is warranted or not, building a multi functional government building that includes police, fire, 911, plus tons of public acesss space is a far cry from a commercial office building like the Wachovia tower. Also, in a building like this, the cost of all teh furinture and fixtures are covered int eh price tag. At Wachovia and other commercial buildings, nearly all the furniture is owned by tenants that lease the space and will remove it when done.

    I also think it is funny that the first reaction is so negative. I would bet that if someone came out 10 years ago and said that the water supply was going to run low in a few years the same people would be crying about how they were "stealing" money from the taxpayers or something similar. We get what we pay for.

    Now, I am also all for running that line to Aurora to get more water as the "leadership" has let us get behind, putting the economy of the area at risk, but it comes at a cost, so be ready to step up and pay.

  • charlesboyer Feb 19, 2008

    Another wonderful downtown project in Meekerville. I hope no one is surprised by that.

    Wouldn't the money be better used to speed up water processing facilities and new reservoirs?

    Oh, that's right. They aren't inside the Beltline.

  • coolwill Feb 19, 2008

    This local government will not stop until they have every dollar out of our pockets. There should be a vote on some ballot for the people to vote on these high dollar tickets. Have any one notice that Raleigh’s vehicle fee has increased from $15.00 to $25.00 this is on your vehicle property tax statement along with your city and county tax. This is not a place to be it is a place to leave. These people think they have a blank check and don't care what your living conditions are. if growth was positive it would pay for it self. Stop the bu_ _.

  • Steve Crisp Feb 19, 2008

    The Wachovia Tower was just recently purchased for $153 milion. 22 stories with 550,000 sq. ft. of space or about $278 per sq. ft. There was a premium on cost over raw construction because it is 90 percent rented and you pay for cash flow stability.

    The new RBC building will stand 29 stories and contain 710,000 sq. ft. of space for approximately $100 million. $140 per sq. ft.

    The Soleil Tower will run 42 stories, some half million sq. ft. and cost $90 million. $180 per sq. ft.

    Yet our lovely city leaders are talking about spending over $225 million (which will be over $300 million before it's all done) to construct a 17 story, 305,000 sq. ft. building?

    That's $800 to $1,000 per square foot in construction costs.

    Are they complete idiots? Or do they merely relish in wasting our tax dollars?

  • ContinuallyAskWhy Feb 19, 2008

    How is it that the same government that is putting restrictions on new building water permits and corporate water usage can propose to build a new building? Here is why the building will be over budget: increased water use for new building construction -> increased water cost for contractor -> increased cost to build new building -> increased water use for new building due to delays in getting new funding for increased costs. Will someone please help me figure out what logic these politicians are using!!!

  • tbajr Feb 19, 2008

    This doesn't sound like a "frugal government", envisioned by
    our forefathers. Chatham county also is pondering a new law enforcement bldg. I suppose they will have to make more laws and raise more fines to pay for it all. A lot of this is caused
    by the unconstitutional drug war, so-called victimless crimes, and the need for government to control and enslave the people.
    More prisons and law enforcement centers are being built than
    schools!

  • supes Feb 18, 2008

    I got to wonder how much of that cost is in pretty decorative marble and other frivolous expenses. I'm not saying they need to go ultra cheap and industrial, but that real estate is extremely valuable. I think they'd be better served building a smaller, more cost effective facility in a better, less commercial location.

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