Local News

Critics Argue Underground Parking Deck For Raleigh Is Over The Top

Posted November 2, 2004 5:22 a.m. EST

— The Raleigh City Council is considering a multimillion-dollar parking deck underground. Some say it is a strategic opportunity since they are digging at the site anyway, but others are not so sure.

When the new Convention Center is built downtown, 400 parking spaces will be lost, but a new $25 million plan for underground parking could add nearly 1,000 new spots.

The underground parking deck would be right below where the current convention center now sits. The estimated cost per spot would be $25,000.

"Although it's expensive, I think it's a good investment for the future," city manager Russell Allen said.

The city did look into whether they could build aboveground parking for less. Two privately owned lots sit within a few blocks of the new convention center.

Allen said buying the land and building the decks would cost about $17.5 million, but then you have to consider the private tax value.

"We probably give up a potential $6 million in revenue over a 30-year period, so you add the $6 million to the $17.5 million and you are getting into a pretty equivalent scenario," he said.

Under an agreement with the developers of the new convention center hotel, the city must provide 400 parking spots. While the money to pay for the parking would come from the city's parking fund, some councilmembers said enough is enough.

"We are committing another $25 million to downtown when in North Raleigh where we need $17 million for a new Falls of Neuse Road and need new parks and roads widened, I can't get anything done," City Councilwoman Jessie Taliaferro said.

Councilman Neal Hunt wants to know if the hotel developer and other nearby properties could help pay for the prime underground parking. The city will now ask.

The underground parking deck could reduce the convention center price tag by $700,000 because a retaining wall will not have to be built. Allen said a decision needs to be made fairly quickly to keep construction on schedule. The council will take up the issue again in two weeks.