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Raleigh Weighs Putting Tax Muscle Behind Private Parking Deck

North Hills today is worth five times what it was worth seven years ago.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Hills today is worth five times what it was worth seven years ago.

It has become an attraction and a money-maker for Raleigh and Wake County. As expansion plans play out, however, there are conflicting ideas on how best to pay for the next phase, and that once again will be the topic at the Raleigh City Council on Tuesday.

There's no question North Hills is a hit. City and county tax revenues from the project last year went above $1million.

Developer John Kane is asking the city for $75 million in tax-increment financing, or TIF, for a parking deck. The deck is part of an $850 million second phase called North Hills East.

TIF allows the city to borrow money for public improvements. The loan is paid back with increased taxes generated by the project involved.

Raleigh's mayor thinks TIF should be used only in blighted areas. “It should be used in areas of the city where development otherwise would not occur,” says Raleigh Charles Meeker.

The mayor supports North Hills, but he says the city can take another role to make North Hills East as successful as the first phase across the street.

Instead of loaning Kane money, Meeker wants to upgrade a pedestrian walkway that Kane has proposed to go over Six Forks Road and make it a landmark, similar to the bridge over the Beltline. The mayor also wants to look at reducing the amount of parking required. The city did the same thing for a new project behind Crabtree Valley Mall.

Meeker believes that would bring down the cost of the project.

“What I'm talking about is how the city can assist in a reasonable way in an area that is being developed right now and is successful,” says Meeker.

Kane is open to those ideas, but doesn't want to drop TIF. “I think that's in addition to. Really, I think the TIF policy is something they need to stay focused on,” says Kane.

Kane says that without city help, North Hills East won't be of the quality proposed. “It absolutely will not be. We can't afford to do what is proposed without assistance with the parking deck.”

The mayor believes it will be a quality project even without public financing.

There are two proposals on the table for TIF financing in the city and the council appears split. The mayor’s proposal only applies to blighted areas.

A proposal by council member Philip Isley would take each application on a case-by-case basis.


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