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New Arena Spawns Growth in West Raleigh

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RALEIGH — Whether it isN.C. State basketball,Carolina Hurricaneshockey or concerts, Raleigh's Entertainment and Sports Arena will bring thousands of people to the area for short periods of time. The arena is also luring people who have longer commitments in mind.

Office buildings, town homes, apartments, and a lot of other projects are already in the works. Most are on or near the newest road in town -- the Edwards Mill Extension.

"Yeah, it's amazing," says developer Mike Jones. "There's a tremendous amount of growth out here. And certainly the arena has really fanned the flames on the fury out here."

Jones' real estate company has been involved with more than a dozen of these deals. He likes the area so much, he decided to move here.

"It's a very strategic location right between Raleigh and Cary," says Jones.

For people planning to attend events at the arena, there are plans for places with pre and post-game entertainment. A number of restaurants are slated to go up along Trinity Road on the south side of the arena.

But how much is too much? City planners say they will watch the area closely to prevent gridlock.

"If it's not watched it could easily spin out of control. But I don't think that. I think that the review process is there to make sure that doesn't happen," says Chuck Walker, vice-president of Raleigh's planning commission.

Jones hopes that does not happen either, since he is not just a developer, but also a resident.

"Well, the state was well prepared on how they planned the Edwards Mill Extension. You can see the number of lanes we got going out to Wade Avenue," he says.

Special lanes will allow at least four lanes of traffic leading into the arena.

There is also a wild card in the arena development game: about 160 acres of land sitting just west of the arena that is owned by the state.

There are a number of developers interested in the site, including one that would like to put a mega retail/entertainment center there.

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Len Besthoff, Reporter
Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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