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Developer: 'Eyesore' parking deck not done

Posted April 7, 2009
Updated April 8, 2009

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— A downtown parking deck near the new convention center is open for business – it only looks unfinished.

The nine-story deck at 216 W. Cabarrus St. accommodates 991 vehicles inside, but the exterior features gray concrete walls facing McDowell and Davie streets.

Empire Properties' L Building Shops, offices to wrap parking deck

"The outside is a little bit of an eyesore," Raleigh attorney Nathan Robinson said.

"It's pretty bland. There's no windows," said Nicholas Robinson, a local process server. "Unlike the rest of the buildings, there's no real architecture to it – no class, no art."

Empire Properties, which has redeveloped several downtown properties, planned to wrap the deck with an L-shaped building with street-level retail and several floors of offices.

"It looks out of place because it is a development site waiting for the building to come into play," Empire President Andrew Stewart said. "It's a future development site; it's not a final product."

When the economy went south, lending tightened up, delaying the company's plans, Stewart said. Banks now want leases signed on 75 percent of the building before Empire can get a loan to start building, he said, compared with 25 percent previously.

Because Empire likely won't finish the project by the end of this year, city officials could require the company to paint the building so it doesn't look out of place. But the council agreed to give the developer an 18-month extension to complete the project.

Stewart said Wake County owns the parking deck, so taxpayer dollars would be needed to paint it. He also said Empire doesn't want to have any painting in progress if the economy rebounds and it can get its financing and start building.

"If they see it painted, they're going to see an odd-looking building with a flat wall that's painted," he said. "If they see it unpainted, they're going to see a development site that's the future, that this thing has something more to it."


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  • superman Apr 9, 2009

    In the scope of things-- just what difference does it make how it looks? I have a lot more important issues to deal with than an ugly parking deck. Suggest that you concentrate on issues that affect your life-- forgot about the parking deck.

  • lolly Apr 8, 2009

    Why not put refective mirrors on it? Then, it would be art, ala the time + life tower.

  • bobbyj Apr 8, 2009

    I hope the stanhope developers do the same thing looks cool.

  • CrewMax Apr 8, 2009

    Looks like a prison, only without windows.

  • kodi Apr 8, 2009

    Have you seen that metal structure on downtown blvd. around the Wade ave. intersection? That was purchased with tax payer dollars as a piece of art. Hatem has done wonderful things in downtown Raleigh. Give him a break. He will do the right thing in time. Much of downtowns revitalization would not have happened without him.

  • jse830fcnawa030klgmvnnaw+ Apr 8, 2009

    The enclosed parking deck shown on the photo looks like a prison.

    IMHO, what the City of Raleigh should have done is build open parking decks outside of downtown and have trolleys run in every 15-minute intevals to/from the parking decks. Have parking meters and small parking lots in downtown, but charge a high fee to park in the city itself unless you live downtown. The parking decks are real eye sores, and the space could be better used for office and retail spaces with underground parking if needed.

  • ncwebguy Apr 8, 2009

    Once upon a time, cars were rare enough that the few people who drove could park on the street.

    After decades of taking tax payer dollars to keep gas prices low and roads free, more parking spaces were needed, which lead to parking lots.

    This in turn put empty, unusable space between where people lived, worked, shopped, etc., destroying the freedom of not needing a car to get anywhere and replacing it with the "freedom" of an auto-dependent environment.

    To squeeze more cars into less space, parking decks were built, stacking them on top of each other. But land was still used for either parking or office/retail/housing, not both. Most of the decks downtown fall in this category, and leave lifeless blocks -- north side of City Hall, west side of Salsibury Street, and others.

    The next evolution was buildings like Progress Energy and RBC -- office/housing above parking, with street level shops.

    The L will have office between street and deck, hiding it, making it less ugly.

  • Iworkforaliving Apr 8, 2009

    It's a parking deck. Not artwork. You park vehicles there. Does it have to be "pretty"?

  • rhythm section Apr 8, 2009

    How about let the arts college in Shaw, Peace, NC State and St. Aug collaborate to do a huge mural? Let them pay for it from their budgets. There is still a taxpayer cost to that idea, but not as much as contracting a artist or painter.

  • redant Apr 8, 2009

    looks like the durham county jail