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Raleigh might condemn land for downtown plaza

Posted June 27, 2008

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— City officials could begin condemnation proceedings next week to gain control of a piece of downtown property for the proposed City Plaza.

Months of negotiations between the city and The Simpson Organization, which owns the property at the south end of Fayetteville Street where the plaza would be located, have broken down. City Manager Russell Allen said officials don't want further delays. which could mean higher construction costs.

Raleigh sold the plaza site about 20 years ago to encourage downtown development. The Simpson Organization, a group of investors in Atlanta, also owns the adjacent Bank of America office tower and a parking garage beneath the plaza site.

The city was trying to negotiate an easement to access the plaza. Officials envision the $14.8 million project, which would include glass retail pavilions, light towers and water fountains, as Raleigh's "public living room," offering a gathering place for local residents and a space for public concerts and other events.

The plaza was supposed to open in September, along with the neighboring convention center and Marriott hotel, but the lengthy easement negotiations have pushed the opening date into early 2009.

Allen has asked the City Council to authorize City Attorney Tom McCormick to file a condemnation action on the property so that construction on the plaza could start by Aug. 1. He also has asked for approval to transfer funds and finalize a contract with Holder Construction Co. to complete the project.

The City Council was expected to action on the requests at its Tuesday meeting.


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  • haggis basher Jun 30, 2008

    ED is sometimes necessary but not in this case. Raleigh does not NEED a Square with a street running through the middle of it. If the city want the property then they should pay the owners price or if that is too much then don't buy it.

  • irishale Jun 27, 2008

    The fact is this: You may have a deed to a piece of property, but you really don't own it. The state/town/random local government entity does. You just rent it. Think otherwise? Stop paying the taxes on the land and see what happens.

    Truth of the matter is, a deed is nothing more than a perpetual long-term lease agreement, that the local govt can renegotiate your lease payments (taxes) at will. When you buy a piece of land, you're merely buying the rights to the lease.

    I know the lawyers out there will argue that I'm wrong, but the fact remains that the EFFECT of it is the same.

    So don't think of it as ED, think of it as 'lease termination'.

    Of course, I got a snicker when I realized what else ED stands for Ere..tile Dysfunction. That kinda fits too... Raleigh wanted to erect a plaza, and the process became dysfunctional :)

  • GoHeelsGo Jun 27, 2008

    This is good business, condemn the land owned by the investor who is going
    to build and run the "public living room". Better than any tv reality show.

  • dougdeep Jun 27, 2008

    Sounds like a pretty standard eminent domain case. Gov't wants the land for public use, they exercise eminent domain rights and give the owner "fair value".

    Good? Bad? Whatever, it's been done forever.

  • davidgnews Jun 27, 2008

    No surprise here. If they can't get what they want the 'nice' way, then they just condemn and take it. Really fine job, guys. You'll really get more public trust that way.

    Why can't they give it a rest instead of squeezing people for more tax money for these pet projects?

    I get the feeling that Allen isn't the best thing that's ever happened to Raleigh, and Meeker can really be a walking passive-aggressive disaster himself. They're making Fetzer look good, and that took some work.

    They're really trying to grow Raleigh faster than it should, but that's been the norm around here for decades. Oh, I forgot - there are roads, buildings, and bridges to be named after some of these 'leaders.'

  • oversleeper Jun 27, 2008

    they had to give the property away to revitalize downtown, now they have to take it back to revitalize downtown lol

  • dws Jun 27, 2008

    it should not be less than the current tax valuation....if it is, Meekerville is out in left field

  • Scrapper Jun 27, 2008

    Raleigh... shame, shame, shame!

  • delilahk2000 Jun 27, 2008

    Here again Raleigh is getting to big for their pants. They are trying so hard to be like the big cities, and stopping over everyone to get there. I do not go to Raleigh alot, but with this i don't care to go at all now. Yea this is a free country just not for us,just the greedy politicions and corporate big wigs that can never get enough money.

  • grenlyn1 Jun 27, 2008

    Anyway you cut it...this company who is doing the construction is claiming they are losing money..umm..they should have thought about that before they began the job. I.E. acquired the property BEFORE they began the project. Seems to me since their little "outdoor living space" fell through..they need to find a new place to stick it...wanna know where?