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Proposed Fayetteville Street Art Project May Be Shelved

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Raleigh wants to capitalize on the newest craze -- cruising Fayetteville Street. The newly paved, former pedestrian mall is revitalizing downtown, just as city leaders hoped.

"People (are) so pleased with the way the street looks now, something we didn't anticipate a few months ago, so we want to be careful," said Mayor Charles Meeker. "We don't want to make a mistake here."

Now, plans for an international art project to be featured on the street are up in the air. City Manager Russell Allen is recommending the City Council not go forward with Jaume Plensa's design for a light and water display.

The project, which would cost more than $4 million, is nearly $2 million over budget. Plus, city engineers are worried about maintenance problems with the display.

But the biggest concern isn't about money or maintenance, but what the project will do to the view.

"It will have a number of steel lines across the street there at (the) 25-feet level, and that could affect the view," said Meeker.

Beginning Monday, council members will get a good idea of what the project will look like. On Monday night and Tuesday morning, they will get to see a smaller version of the display on Fayetteville Street.

"Having driven down there and seeing that view, it is really great," said Raleigh Arts Commission chair Bbeth Yerxa. "And you really want to maintain it. I think this hopefully will be thin enough that it will not impede the view, but we will see."

Yerxa said she's thrilled to get an artist like Plensa involved, and hopes his plan will work. If it doesn't, she said the commission would work hard to find one that will.

WRAL's parent company, Capitol Broadcasting Co., is donating $2.5 million for the project. Capitol Broadcasting President Jim Goodmon said he hopes the Plensa project works out, and added that it's up to the City Council to decide. He said if it doesn't, he'd work with the city on something else.

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