Raleigh Leaders Reconsider Convention Center Parking Garage
Posted November 29, 2005 10:20 a.m. EST
RALEIGH, N.C. — Raleigh city leaders are reconsidering a plan to build a new downtown parking garage in the Capital City after rising construction costs have pushed the cost more than $7 million higher than what was first projected.
The city planned to build a 900-plus space parking garage below Raleigh's new convention center, but now the project is in question because of Hurricane Katrina's continuing impact on building supplies.
Even though the estimated cost is now about $32 million, Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said the project should not be abandoned.
"We need to have more parking in the area -- no question about that -- but the question is how much parking and whether we can cut back on some of the cost in the features," Meeker said.
But City Councilman Mike Regan disagrees. Not only is he against the parking deck, he thinks the entire convention center project is a "money pit" and should be suspended.
At a recent City Council meeting, Regan proposed a motion to do just that, but the rest of the Council's members defeated it.
"It doesn't make sense then, it doesn't make sense now," Regan said.
Regan contends that economic estimates from a consulting firm show the new convention center will have fewer visitors than the old center and will bring in less money.
"If you look at the facts, it says, 'don't do this unless you're crazy,'" Regan said.
City leaders say the cost of the new convention center is already an estimated $4.5 million over the budgeted $192 million, and could be over even further by the time the project is set to open in 2008. But they maintain the overrun has nothing to do with their planning process, but blame the rising construction costs caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The City Council has agreed to put out bids on the parking project and further research the price of construction.