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Condemnation off for downtown plaza site

The Simpson Organization on Tuesday submitted a formal request to address the council at tonight's meeting.

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Artist's Rendering of City Plaza in Raleigh
RALEIGH, N.C. — City officials on Tuesday reached a tentative agreement with the owners of a downtown site being eyed for a proposed plaza.

The City Council voted last month to begin condemnation proceedings on the property, but that process would halt if the City Council gives final approval to the agreement with The Simpson Organization.

The Simpson Organization, a group of Atlanta investors that owns the Bank of America building and adjacent land at the south end of Fayetteville Street, had been unable to reach an agreement with the city on an easement that would allow the property to be transformed into City Plaza.

Officials envision the City Plaza 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.

City officials determined condemning the land and seizing it through eminent domain would allow them to begin construction by August and avoid further delays, which could mean higher construction costs.

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

The delays also added more than $2.5 million to the total project – originally estimated around $21 million.


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