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Safety center expected back on Raleigh council's agenda

Posted January 18, 2010

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— Plans for a $205 million emergency services building in downtown Raleigh is expected to be on the City Council's agenda Tuesday.

The 300,000-square-foot Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center, which will sit at the current site of the Raleigh Police Department at the corner of McDowell and Hargett streets, will house the city's police and fire departments, as well as its 911 operations center and other emergency services.

Safety center expected back on Raleigh council's agenda Safety center expected back on Raleigh council's agenda

The proposal has caused concern among some council members who have questioned the need for certain amenities during tough economic times that they say unnecessarily inflates construction costs

"In bad economic times, if I were going to buy a new car, I certainly wouldn't buy a Rolls Royce. I'd buy a Ford or Chevrolet or something like that," Councilman John Odom said.

Other members have suggested renovating the building that now houses the police department.

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker, as well as other council members, say that with the economy, now is the best time to build.

"This is not a luxury building; it's a special-purpose building," Meeker said. "By building it now, we can save $20 million in construction costs and approximately $30 million in interest costs."

So far, the plan to pay for the 16-story building has included an 8 percent property-tax increase over five years. Meeker, who hopes to see construction begin this year, said he would like to find alternative financing, a matter expected to be up for discussion Tuesday.

The slow economy has already delayed construction of the center. The police headquarters is scheduled to move out of downtown by March so that demolition can begin on the current building.

Officials said the project would create 1,800 construction jobs.

11 Comments

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  • aspenstreet1717 Jan 19, 2010

    Maybe they should have not built the Raleigh Convention (Randy Parton theatre) center. That money could have been used for the safety building!

  • corey3rd Jan 19, 2010

    does it have a batsignal

  • Duke _Nukem Jan 19, 2010

    Does everyone know that Clarence E. Lightner grandson is a blood gang member??? Can we find someone more deserving to name a public safety center after?

  • 27615 Jan 19, 2010

    NO!

  • archmaker Jan 19, 2010

    "In bad economic times, if I were going to buy a new car, I certainly wouldn't buy a Rolls Royce. I'd buy a Ford or Chevrolet or something like that," Councilman John Odom said.

    if i expected to use it for the next 35 years, i wouldn't buy the ford or chevy

  • archmaker Jan 19, 2010

    there are plenty of savings for public jobs as well. i was involved in a project at one of the unc universities and the bid was 30% below the price of the work a year before.

  • Tugboat-1 Jan 18, 2010

    Building cost are down substantially, but most of those savings are available to the private sector. Government projects always cost more, much more. Only a politician can believe they are doing a great job. Most of the so-called minority owned companies are shams. The current building has had many up-grades & is in fact currently receiving upgrades. I point this out because I do support a new Police Department. However, these issues will need to be addressed in order to save money on building. A 200 million dollar building can be built to the same level of quality in today's market for around 150. However, they will not accomplish this. It took three years to replace Martin Middle School. In the real world, it could have been done in 18 months.

  • blackdog Jan 18, 2010

    Saving 50 million on a 200 million project is pretty good savings. The 8% tax increase is another matter. The cost can be absorbed in other ways. The council just needs to decide on alternative financing. If the council can keep the tax hike below 4%, it should be more palatible.

  • doobedobedoodoo Jan 18, 2010

    The citizens have voted, morgannyy, and Meeker won again last fall for the 4th or 5th time now. This building has been on the drawing board and in the news for years. The Police Department is already dispersed and moving into temporary facilities. Now we're gonna call a halt to it? And what is "Rolls Royce" about anything having to do with police or public safety?? I want my police and firefighters having the best equipment, vehicles and buildings possible.

    Please, councilmembers, stop the grandstanding for a few votes. You sound silly.

    And why not name the building after someone in public safety, like former police chief Fred Heineman?...not a one-term mayor from 30 years ago.

  • Realamerican71 Jan 18, 2010

    As fast as the population of Raleigh/Wake county is growing, we need the new building. It's not a Rolls Royce, it's room for expansion in the future. Sure, you can renovate the old building. But, what do you end up with in the end? A newly renovated building with no room to expand? What would the cost be for that and how quickly would it be outgrown? I just wonder about the last line in the article... The new construction would create 1800 new construction jobs. Wouldnt it be ironic if these positions were filled by folks that are undocumented.

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