Local News

Activity remains stalled on proposed Crabtree tower

Posted May 27, 2009 4:18 p.m. EDT
Updated May 27, 2009 11:10 p.m. EDT

— Signs that promise a 2009 opening are the only signs of life at the site of a proposed tower once planned as Raleigh's tallest building.

City officials approved plans for the Soleil Center, an estimated $175 million, 43-story mixed-use development on Glenwood Avenue near Crabtree Valley Mall, 3½ years ago, but the building's foundation is the only piece of the project that has been completed.

Initially, developers said they expected the tower, which would include upscale condominiums, a spa and a Westin hotel, to be built in less than three years. Two years ago, they promised people would begin to see progress on the structure in 2008 and that it would be complete this summer.

A Web site for the Westin hotel now advertises a Jan. 28, 2010, opening, while signs on the fenced property still trumpet an opening in the second quarter of this year.

"We were excited because we were going to watch it go up, and then all of the sudden, that was the end of it," nearby resident Peggy Bennett said. "I'd like to see something there because it doesn't look good for the whole area to see it like it is now."

Developers Dicky Walia and Sanjay Mundra didn't return telephone calls Wednesday for comment.

Public records show the developers have obtained seven extensions on loans totaling $7.4 million. The last extension ran out in November, when they still owed $6.7 million to Regions Bank on the loans.

Two Charlotte-based contractors also have liens against the property to collect a combined $1.2 million owed for labor and materials they have supplied to the project, according to court records.

"It's a common story throughout the city, so we have a great deal of patience and understanding for what they are going through," Raleigh Planning Director Mitchell Silver said.

The site plan approved by the city for the project expires in November 2010, and the developers can get a three-year extension through the Planning Department before having to go back before the City Council.

Silver said it's hard to predict when construction will resume at the site.

"Maybe (it will be) the end of '09 or beginning of 2010, as we see the credit market and lenders change the way they start to finance projects," he said.