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Developer wants banners on unfinished Raleigh parking deck

Posted October 12, 2010

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— To cover up what some have called an eyesore in downtown Raleigh, a developer has proposed hanging artistic banners around a McDowell Street parking deck.

The nine-story deck at 216 W. Cabarrus St. opened early last year, and Empire Properties planned to wrap the deck with an L-shaped building with street-level retail and several floors of offices.

The slow economy forced Empire to put its plans on hold, and Wake County, which owns the property, gave the developer until mid-November to begin construction on the project or face penalties.

Empire owner Greg Hatem notified county officials on Oct. 1 that the company wouldn't meet the deadline and asked for a three-year extension to begin building the retail and office complex around the parking deck.

In exchange for the extension to November 2013, Hatem said, his company would conduct a competition to design banners to cover the gray concrete walls of the parking deck that now face McDowell and Davie streets.

"The proposal costs Wake County taxpayers $0 to implement. It provides a major public art project for downtown Raleigh. And it eliminates a costly, wasteful and unattractive facade painting requirement," Hatem wrote in his Oct. 1 letter.

Raleigh officials have demanded that the parking deck's walls be painted and the surrounding grounds be landscaped by next May if construction of the office and retail complex hadn't begun by then. County officials estimate the painting and landscaping would cost about $350,000.

The Board of Commissioners debated during a workshop Monday whether to go along with Hatem's proposal or to cut ties with Empire and line up another developer for the project. A final vote is expected next month.


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  • james27613 Oct 12, 2010

    Perhaps the city can have a beer distributor paint the parking deck with a few beer logos?

  • superman Oct 12, 2010

    How about painting giant size pictures of Meeker and the city council? They wanted the building -- they certainly deserve their pictures painted on it.

  • Nelly Oct 12, 2010

    Hatem has done some wonderful things with a lot of buildings in downtown Raleigh. I trust his opinion on this and I know he will follow through the process with ingenuity and class, and make this deck something enjoyable to look at.
    I would not have that same trust in some of you jokers on this comment board. Especially the ones who spout off misconceptions about downtown. Get out from behind your computer and come down and hang out - create your own opinion. I'm heading downtown right now and I'm excited to spend the evening there.

  • drjones74 Oct 12, 2010

    Bart is a fantastic local artist. I am confidant he can do as claims. For those unfamiliar with the deck itself I suggest paying downtown a visit before making comments like "you can't see in"...well duh...its encased in concrete blocks now on two sides. And no, there is not a parking problem downtown as far as number of spaces goes....the decks under City Plaza are barely used and there are many other decks above ground (Moore, Wilmington, Convention Center, Progress Energy Center, Two Hannover, Sheraton, City Hall, County, Powerhouse Deck, 222 Glenwood Deck, State Govt' has a public deck)

  • John Sawtooth Oct 12, 2010

    I find the hideous ugliness rather useful. It's an extremely convenient landmark when I'm giving someone directions to my office downtown.

    Everyone notices the North Korean parking deck.

  • Sulfurdust Oct 12, 2010

    "Also, since the banners are hanging over the deck. In case of an emergency how are you to seek help? No one will be able to see you. There are some pros and cons, seriously" 007KnightRider
    The Deck has no windows on those faces anyways. It's a solid concrete wall. Check out the Pictures. The banners would cover bare concrete, not windows.

  • 007KnightRider Oct 12, 2010

    Nice concept but those who aren't familiar with the area how are they to know this is a parking deck and not just a big picture on a "building". Also, since the banners are hanging over the deck. In case of an emergency how are you to seek help? No one will be able to see you. There are some pros and cons, seriously.

  • Lone Voice in the Wilderness Oct 12, 2010

    I obviously meant "jobs" in my previous post.

    Also, if you want bland, non-existent downtowns, move to Cary. But many people, like myself, prefer a little bit of vibrancy to their downtown view. No, it isn't Manhattan, LA, Atlanta, Charleston, etc. It's Raleigh.

    I'm not the "love it or leave it" kind of person. If you have suggestions about how to make downtown a better place to live, then by all means, speak up. But I've been in Raleigh a long time (since 1995), and downtown Raleigh is a better place to be than it was 15 years ago. And before 1995, I grew up in southern & eastern NC.

  • busterbluth Oct 12, 2010

    I heart downtown!

  • Lone Voice in the Wilderness Oct 12, 2010

    I love how the WRAL discussion boards seems to be the host for nattering nabobs of negativism.

    As a Raleigh resident who finds himself in downtown frequently, I think some banners to spruce up the parking deck would be a good thing.

    If you don't like Raleigh, keep in mind that I-40 goes both east & west & US-1 goes north & south.

    I for one get tired of people hating Raleigh so much but somehow loving the job & quality of life that comes from it.