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Raleigh breaks ground on downtown plaza

Posted October 20, 2008

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— Almost three years after city officials first floated the idea of a public gathering place at the south end of Fayetteville Street, they broke ground Monday on City Plaza.

Officials envision City Plaza, 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.

"It's always nice to have a groundbreaking. The only thing better is a ribbon-cutting when we're done," Mayor Charles Meeker said.

The $14.8 million City Plaza project has been dogged by controversy, first in a disagreement over public art and later in a land dispute.

Spanish artist Jaume Plensa was commissioned to design art elements for the plaza, but some people said his display of flashing lights over Fayetteville Street would detract from the view from the State Capitol to the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts.

After Plensa withdrew from the project and new art elements were drawn up, negotiations on an easement bogged down between city officials and the Atlanta investors that own the plaza site. Officials threatened to condemn the land and seize it, but an agreement was hammered out at the last minute.

The disputes delayed work on the plaza, which was supposed to open last month at the same time as the new downtown convention center and Marriott hotel.

"It has taken us a while to get to this point, both in terms of the design and getting squared away on the easement for the site, but it's finally done. It's taken about a year. We're ready to move ahead now," Meeker said.

Construction on the plaza is scheduled to be completed next fall.


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  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Oct 21, 2008

    With the reduction in tax revenues due to the economic downturn. What are we wasting more money on downtown boondoggles.

  • WHEEL Oct 20, 2008

    I think it's a bit of a stretch to call threatening condemnation a bargaining position.

  • oyid Oct 20, 2008

    Nice to see the capital city taking shape! Raleigh also seem to be breaking with the trend whereby state capitals are typically boring and conservative in style...too STATELY. No pun intended :-)

  • Mr. Middle of the Road Oct 20, 2008

    Yep. Free parking on the street.

  • brassy Oct 20, 2008

    Does it have free parking?

  • Mr. Middle of the Road Oct 20, 2008

    Raleigh is a great place to live and continues to weather the storm because we have had forward thinking leaders like Mayor Meeker who isn't afraid to be proactive. I am tired of people moving in taking advantage of the forward thinking of the past and then whining and wanting it to stop now that they are here. If you don't like it, go back where you came from.

  • mmania Oct 20, 2008


    Looks like you're the one in the minority on this issue.

  • awr117 Oct 20, 2008


    You'll be the one that continues to complain. Move out of the county if you are sick of paying Raleigh taxes.

  • SaveEnergyMan Oct 20, 2008

    I agree with wolfpack_girl1976 and several others - with the reduction in tax revenues that the state and feds are experiencing should we even be doing this? I guess it's all play money for them, after all, we can raise taxes if we need to. How about a little responsible financial management here?

  • bama211 Oct 20, 2008

    Raleigh is on a roll these days, we're ranked int he top 5 best places to live, we're weathering the economic storm pretty well, and we're not too loaded down with just one economic sector anymore "like the days of tech". I tip my hat to the city planners and those responsible for taking on this project, especially in this economy. It takes some pretty strong nerves and cool hands to pull this off, and we'll be better for it when it's done and the economy comes back. Now is the time to prepare and position yourself for the recovery, if you can. For the environmentalists concerned about this project, don't be. Trust me, I'm sure the ground soil at the site was contaiminated beyond belief, and will now be cleaned up and replaced with fresh soil to build upon. This is the case in the majority of east coast cities "because of our age". Redevelopment always hits environmental problems. But they're addressed and fixed and the site, soil, and ground water is better for it.