Local News

Economy puts brakes on downtown tower plans

Posted June 2, 2009 3:16 p.m. EDT
Updated June 3, 2009 8:35 a.m. EDT

— Raleigh City Council heard on Tuesday that a deal for a downtown high-rise is off the table after a series of delays.

The city sold a half-acre lot at the corner of Lenoir and Salisbury streets, across from the new convention center, to Empire Properties two years ago for $1.44 million. The developer planned to build the 22-story Lafayette tower to house a boutique hotel, offices and 40 condominiums.

The council voted twice in 2008, most recently in August, to extend deadlines for the developer, Empire Properties, to secure financing.

Greg Hatem, owner of Empire Properties, conceded that the economy played a role in the collapse of the plan he set out with in 2007. He asked the council to withdraw his company from any commitment at the site.

He read a statement during Tuesday's meeting outlining the company's many accomplishments downtown and concluding, "This ambitious project is not possible at this time. ... I cannot predict that timeline any more than the best and the brightest leaders in the world can predict when the global economy will recover from current conditions."

The council agreed to cancel the agreement with Empire Properties and solicit new proposals for the plot when the economy improves.