Local News

Plans for Raleigh's Tallest Building in Limbo

Posted March 12, 2007 4:02 p.m. EDT
Updated March 12, 2007 6:44 p.m. EDT

— Last year, the implosion of the old hotel next to Crabtree Valley Mall cleared the way for the new Soleil Center. But once the dust settled and the debris was cleared, work stopped on the site.

The $140 million project is backed by private investors. Originally, the groundbreaking was set for 2006, and then moved to early 2007. But three months into 2007 and 10 months after the implosion, the work site is silent.

The tallest building in the Triangle is supposed to rise behind black plastic and a mound of dirt 10 feet high. The Soleil Center would be 43 stories high, with 49 upscale condominiums and a Westin Hotel.

The Raleigh City Council approved the plans in November of 2005. Sixteen months later, the developers insist they will break ground within 90 days. But they have not filed any plans with the city inspections department, and those plans can take months to review.

“I'm just not certain what's going to happen, given the extended delays that have occurred so far,” said Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker.

“It doesn't concern me at all,” said Raleigh planning director Mitchell Silver. “(It’s a) complex project, very expensive. They want to make sure they're doing it right.”

However, when WRAL asked Meeker if the Soleil Center would ever be built, he said, “I really just don't know.”

A key piece of the project is its 49 condominiums. The Soleil Group said it needs to sell 25 of them to begin construction. The developers won't say how many they've sold, only that they've sold enough. The condominiums go for $600 a square foot.

“Condominiums at $600 a square foot is about twice the going rate downtown, so that's a very high rate,” Meeker said. “Now again, whether the market will accept that, I just don't have any indication right now.”

“I think people need to be patient,” Silver said. “Again, we have a mixed-use project. This one is quite complex, so I think people do need to be patient.”

When WRAL talked with the developer by phone, he said the Soleil Center should be completed in 2009, despite the delays, and despite the fact it has not yet broken ground.