Local News

Delayed high-rise will happen, project manager says

Posted November 10, 2008 6:25 p.m. EST
Updated November 11, 2008 10:59 a.m. EST

— A controversial high-rise – billed to be Raleigh's tallest building – will happen, despite financial troubles that have put construction on hold.

That's according to John Lamutt, senior project manager for the Soleil Center, the estimated $175 million, 43-story mixed-use development that will include upscale condominiums, a spa and a luxury hotel near Crabtree Valley Mall on Glenwood Avenue.

Lamutt said Monday that because of the troubled economy, developers are trying to reduce costs and that construction could begin as early as next year, he said.

Construction has been delayed multiple times on the project since the Raleigh City Council approved it in November 2005. Initially, developers said they expected it to take less than three years to complete.

In July 2007, developers said it would be early 2008 when the public would begin to see progress on the structure and that it would be complete in the summer of 2009.

There is no visible sign of progress, however.

Despite reassurances that the stalled project will happen, concern is growing. Real estate agent Marti Hampton, with Re/Max One Realty in Raleigh, says she had a condominium buyer back away.

"Buyers are not really good with (delayed gratification)," Hampton said.

City leaders say they are also concerned about the delay.

"You know, I really just don't know what the future is," Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said. "The developers, if they have a plan, ought to go ahead and let the public know, so they can make plans accordingly."

Public records show the developers asked for six extensions on loans worth $7.4 million. A few months ago, they still owed about $7 million to the bank, which was due by September.

It's not clear if the loan was ever paid off.

Last month, two contractors also filed liens to get paid – one for $336,572.75 and another for $918,300. Within the past few weeks, developers settled a third claim for $791,076.99.

Lamutt would not comment on financing or the loans, referring questions to the developers. They, however, have not returned multiple calls over the past several weeks seeking comment.

But not all the delays have been for financial reasons. Last year, the developers said uneven bedrock caused them to raise the property by 4 feet.