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Council Gives Go-Ahead On Belk Building Renovation

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RALEIGH, N.C. — One of the main projects designed to bring back life to downtown Raleigh finally has the go-ahead.

The Raleigh City Council signed off Tuesday on a developer's plan to renovate the old Belk Building.

The old building is crumbling, covered with weeds and overrun with squirrels and pigeons. It soon will be home to high-dollar condominiums.

Developer Vaughn King gave a thumbs-up after the City Council approved his plans to renovate the building. He said he does not understand why it has been so difficult to get his project off the ground.

"We've been trying to figure out that answer," King said. "Today, we hopefully put that to bed."

King's plan to build 62 condominiums and a few stores got a lukewarm reception from city leaders.

"I wonder if we could do something bigger and better than what is in place," council member Phillip Isley said.

Some of the reservations revolve around King's business partner -- Barney Joyner -- a landlord who has been sued by the city. King said he will get financing from a bank instead of Joyner.

The council also questioned King's plan to build condominiums instead of office space. King said his proposal makes better business sense.

King has sold 18 units at up to $250,000 each.

"There's over 400,000 square feet of office space for lease," he said, "whereas (downtown developments) Park Devereaux and Cotton Mill had pre-sold."

King plans to start demolition Monday. But city leaders are all too aware that plans for the former Belk building have fallen through before. If it looks like King cannot finish the deal, the city plans to buy the building back and start the process all over again.

Council members said King will not get construction permits for the Belk project until he has sold 25 percent of the units.


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