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After Delays, Raleigh's Soleil Center Could Finally Take Height

Construction could begin this summer on what developers say will be Raleigh's tallest building.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — After more than a year of delays, groundbreaking is expected this summer at the site of what will be Raleigh's tallest high-rise.

Developers said uneven bedrock beneath the site where the planned 43-story Soleil Center will sit near Crabtree Valley Mall on Glenwood Avenue was the main reason for the hold-up.

"We did not feel comfortable mobilizing on a $175 million project until we knew exactly what we were dealing with," said developer Sanjay Mundra.

In the next few weeks, Mundra said, more than 1,000 dump trucks will deliver soil to raise the property by four feet.

Since the Raleigh City Council approved the project in November 2005, the mixed-use development has received a lot of hype with its promises of a mix of upscale condominiums, a spa and a luxury hotel.

But with delays also came doubt by some about the future of the project and whether it would move forward.

"We have everything in line," said developer Gary Fourie. "We've negotiated all the major deals."

Real estate agent Kelly Werner said the doubts have not had a major impact on consumer interest. Eighteen of 54 condominiums, including two penthouses, are reserved. The penthouses start at about $4.5 million; the smaller units start at a little more than $1 million.

"Now, to be able to tell people that have been e-mailing for two years -- that's a huge response that I'm getting," Werner said. "People are so excited."

Developers said Monday they plan to get remaining permits from the City of Raleigh next week and that it will probably be early 2008 when people will begin seeing some of the structure in place.

A completion date is set for summer in 2009.

Once complete, the Soleil Center is expected to bring 150 jobs to the area and an annual estimated tax revenue of about $4 million.

The development has not been without opposition, however. Some Raleigh leaders and residents do not think the high-rise should sit outside the downtown area, which is undergoing its own revitalization.

That began in July 2006 with the reopening of Fayetteville Street to traffic. Construction is also under way to build a new state-of-the art 550,000 square-foot convention center, a 1,500-space parking garage and a four-star luxury Marriott Hotel.

They are set to open sometime next year.


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