Local News

Chandeliers For Fayetteville Street Come Under Scrutiny

Posted January 10, 2006 7:22 a.m. EST

— At every street corner on the new Fayetteville Street, a large chandelier made of glass will change colors when viewed from different angles. Supporters say they will define Fayetteville Street and the city center. But some wonder if they will withstand the times.

They are 25-feet tall, with thick glass and a solid terra-cotta base. They are what supporters say will make Fayetteville Street stand out.

"At night, all the colors will spill over the roadway," said NC Museum Director Larry Wheeler. "During the daytime, the sun will penetrate the glass and spill light over the streetscape. It's going to be beautiful, day and night, and add life to the center of the city."

Sixteen chandeliers are planned -- one for every street corner. A model shows the work in progress, designed by artists in San Francisco and Seagrove.

The price isn't cheap, with the total cost adding up to nearly $2 million. All the money will come from corporate citizens and private donations.

City Council member Tommy Craven has concerns that although no taxpayer money will be used, the chandeliers will be maintained by the city once completed.

"I hear shattering in my mind," said Craven.

Even though supporters say they should be low-maintenance, Craven believes with the materials being proposed, there are no guarantees.

"I've paid for enough broken stuff in my life, and tried to fix enough broken pottery and glass in my life, to always be skeptical of anything deemed to be unbreakable," said Craven.

Wheeler said spare parts will be ordered. He doesn't foresee the city having to spend a lot on repairs or upkeep.

"They look fragile but are very sturdy," he said.

Any time public art is proposed, the city holds a public hearing. The meeting planned for this project will take place at 6:30 p.m. at Raleigh City Hall. The design is still a work in progress, but organizers hope to have them up by this time next year.