Local News

Developer: 'Eyesore' parking deck not done

Posted April 7, 2009 6:41 p.m. EDT
Updated April 8, 2009 12:08 p.m. EDT

— A downtown parking deck near the new convention center is open for business – it only looks unfinished.

The nine-story deck at 216 W. Cabarrus St. accommodates 991 vehicles inside, but the exterior features gray concrete walls facing McDowell and Davie streets.

"The outside is a little bit of an eyesore," Raleigh attorney Nathan Robinson said.

"It's pretty bland. There's no windows," said Nicholas Robinson, a local process server. "Unlike the rest of the buildings, there's no real architecture to it – no class, no art."

Empire Properties, which has redeveloped several downtown properties, planned to wrap the deck with an L-shaped building with street-level retail and several floors of offices.

"It looks out of place because it is a development site waiting for the building to come into play," Empire President Andrew Stewart said. "It's a future development site; it's not a final product."

When the economy went south, lending tightened up, delaying the company's plans, Stewart said. Banks now want leases signed on 75 percent of the building before Empire can get a loan to start building, he said, compared with 25 percent previously.

Because Empire likely won't finish the project by the end of this year, city officials could require the company to paint the building so it doesn't look out of place. But the council agreed to give the developer an 18-month extension to complete the project.

Stewart said Wake County owns the parking deck, so taxpayer dollars would be needed to paint it. He also said Empire doesn't want to have any painting in progress if the economy rebounds and it can get its financing and start building.

"If they see it painted, they're going to see an odd-looking building with a flat wall that's painted," he said. "If they see it unpainted, they're going to see a development site that's the future, that this thing has something more to it."