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Leaders See Need For New Schools In Downtown Raleigh

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A lot is changing in downtown Raleigh. But leaders say something is missing: schools.

Downtown business leaders met Thursday night to talk about their concerns. Wake County Superintendent Bill McNeal spoke about the importance of downtown schools.

Downtown Raleigh is a city under construction. It could look completely different by 2008. The downtown building boom reads like an urban developer's wish list.

"We have the new RBC Centura (building) that will be completed by that time," said Nancy Hormann, of Raleigh's Downtown Alliance. "We have the Convention Center that will be completed, and the Marriott Hotel will be completed."

Also, condos continue to dot Raleigh's skyline. Despite high prices, the urban lifestyle appealed to Cliff Bleszinski. He is about to move into a unit in the Paramount -- one of five downtown condominiums built in the last five years.

"Downtown, you have unique shops, bars, restaurants," said Bleszinski. "It's where it's at, and I want to be in the heart of it."

The numbers show downtown Raleigh is attracting attention and tenants. Currently, 2,500 people call the area home. By 2010, around 3,000 living units are expected to be completed, meaning an additional 6,000 people could be moving in.

Dan Douglas is a key figure in Raleigh's new look. He says the plan is to attract empty-nesters and families looking for a lifestyle change.

"They're attracted to the urban lifestyle of going to the Performing Arts Center, restaurants, nightlife," said Douglas. "I think we're right at the beginning of that trend."

That trend is changing Raleigh's urban landscape, one block at a time. And not all the downtown condos are pricey. Of the 700 dwellings under construction, around one-third will be government-subsidized units for rent.


Ken Smith, Reporter
Greg Clark, Photographer
Dana Franks, Web Editor

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