Developer wants banners on unfinished Raleigh parking deck
Posted October 12, 2010 2:14 p.m. EDT
Updated October 12, 2010 3:22 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — To cover up what some have called an eyesore in downtown Raleigh, a developer has proposed hanging artistic banners around a McDowell Street parking deck.
The nine-story deck at 216 W. Cabarrus St. opened early last year, and Empire Properties planned to wrap the deck with an L-shaped building with street-level retail and several floors of offices.
The slow economy forced Empire to put its plans on hold, and Wake County, which owns the property, gave the developer until mid-November to begin construction on the project or face penalties.
Empire owner Greg Hatem notified county officials on Oct. 1 that the company wouldn't meet the deadline and asked for a three-year extension to begin building the retail and office complex around the parking deck.
In exchange for the extension to November 2013, Hatem said, his company would conduct a competition to design banners to cover the gray concrete walls of the parking deck that now face McDowell and Davie streets.
"The proposal costs Wake County taxpayers $0 to implement. It provides a major public art project for downtown Raleigh. And it eliminates a costly, wasteful and unattractive facade painting requirement," Hatem wrote in his Oct. 1 letter.
Raleigh officials have demanded that the parking deck's walls be painted and the surrounding grounds be landscaped by next May if construction of the office and retail complex hadn't begun by then. County officials estimate the painting and landscaping would cost about $350,000.
The Board of Commissioners debated during a workshop Monday whether to go along with Hatem's proposal or to cut ties with Empire and line up another developer for the project. A final vote is expected next month.