Local News

Plans For Former Belk Building Remain Up In Air

Posted May 8, 2003 2:09 a.m. EDT

— A local developer wants to breathe new life into a prime piece of Raleigh real estate, but city leaders have some reservations.

City leaders hoped the former Belk building would become the centerpiece of downtown revitalization. Right now, it is considered an eyesore.

"It looks like a place homeless people would go in and sleep, a place people would go in and do drugs," a Raleigh resident said.

The city had high hopes in 2001 when it sold the beleaguered building to a company promising to fill it with offices, condominiums and shops. That project was abandoned last year.

Vaughn King, a Cary developer renovating Caraleigh Mills, stepped and bought the property, with plans to build 64 condominiums. However, he needs city council approval first.

City leaders said King has a good reputation, but little experience with a project this size.

"Other questions have been raised about partnerships and past business dealings," council member Kieran Shanahan said. "The city has been involved in litigation with one of the partners before, so there are a lot of questions that need to be looked at very closely."

Raleigh officials said King is working with Barney Joyner, who is being sued by the city. Joyner is the former owner of Plum Crazy, a nightclub that was shut down after it was declared a nuisance.

City leaders are making it clear they will entertain other offers for the building.

"We'll look at his plans and we'll see what anyone else has to say. If anyone else has a better plan, even though they don't own the property, now's the time to come forward and let's hear it," Mayor Charles Meeker said.

King could not be reached for comment. Joyner did not return WRAL's call.

The city has the option of buying back the Belk building and waiting for a better offer.