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Raleigh might condemn land for downtown plaza

Negotiations between the city and a private landowner over the City Plaza site have broken down, and officials want to move forward with the delayed project.

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Artist's Rendering of City Plaza in Raleigh
RALEIGH, N.C. — City officials could begin condemnation proceedings next week to gain control of a piece of downtown property for the proposed City Plaza.

Months of negotiations between the city and The Simpson Organization, which owns the property at the south end of Fayetteville Street where the plaza would be located, have broken down. City Manager Russell Allen said officials don't want further delays. which could mean higher construction costs.

Raleigh sold the plaza site about 20 years ago to encourage downtown development. The Simpson Organization, a group of investors in Atlanta, also owns the adjacent Bank of America office tower and a parking garage beneath the plaza site.

The city was trying to negotiate an easement to access the plaza. Officials envision the $14.8 million project, which would include glass retail pavilions, light towers and water fountains, as Raleigh's "public living room," offering a gathering place for local residents and a space for public concerts and other events.

The plaza was supposed to open in September, along with the neighboring convention center and Marriott hotel, but the lengthy easement negotiations have pushed the opening date into early 2009.

Allen has asked the City Council to authorize City Attorney Tom McCormick to file a condemnation action on the property so that construction on the plaza could start by Aug. 1. He also has asked for approval to transfer funds and finalize a contract with Holder Construction Co. to complete the project.

The City Council was expected to action on the requests at its Tuesday meeting.


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