Raleigh Officials Debate Where To Put New Convention Center
Posted August 6, 2002 6:24 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — A new study shows Raleigh needs a new convention center and a large hotel, but officials are debating where to put the facility.
County and city officials met Monday evening to hear the results of a six-month study by the
Raleigh Convention and Conference Center
. They spent nearly $60,000 on the study.
"We needed to validate that. We needed the numbers that says this is what is and what could be," county commissioner Linda Coleman said.
Officials believe the current center needs to double in size and there needs to be a 400- to 500-room hotel. Officials claim that by doing that, the city could see $100 million in revenue a year and 2,000 new jobs.
"What the study shows is that we're losing ground. If we don't do something soon, the situation is going to get worse. The fact of the matter is that people want to be in the capital city, so we have an opportunity to take a market share there that we're not taking," hotel developer Bob Winston said.
Officials said the big question the study did not answer is where to put the convention center. Some want to put it near the Entertainment and Sports Arena, while others want to put it downtown.
"The most common has been to have the new convention center downtown. That is where it will most likely end up, but we'll have to take a fresh look at it all and see what the right site is," Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said.
Another problem for the current convention center are the number of hotel rooms. A majority of them are located outside downtown Raleigh.
"The Sheraton can't hold them all, so sometimes, we end up sending people to the Brownstone (Hotel) and to other hotels that are spread out throughout the city," said Kelvin Spragley of the North Carolina Association of Educators. "We deal with that, but the reality of that is it is an inconvenience."
About 75 percent of hotels are located to the north and west of downtown Raleigh with most of them located along Interstates 40 and 440. Only 8 percent are located in downtown and only one hotel is within walking distance of the current convention center. Seventeen percent of Wake County hotels are located outside Raleigh.
Officials are also looking at how the project would be paid for. The biggest money is expected to come from the hotel, beverage and food tax.