Local News

Banners to cover unfinished Raleigh parking deck

Posted July 4, 2011 4:55 p.m. EDT
Updated July 5, 2011 6:37 p.m. EDT

— Crews will soon begin installing banners around a McDowell Street parking deck to cover up what some have called an eyesore in downtown Raleigh.

The nine-story deck at 216 W. Cabarrus St. opened in early 2009, and the developer, Empire Properties, planned to wrap the deck with an L-shaped building with street-level retail and several floors of offices.

The slow economy put plans for the building on hold indefinitely, and Wake County, which owns the property agreed to Empire's idea to hang banners on the parking deck to cover the gray concrete walls that now face McDowell and Davie streets.

Empire picked up the $200,000 cost for creating and installing the banners.

Three North Carolina State University students designed a 15-banner mural called "The Fantastic Sky Race," incorporating local landmarks into the artwork.

Dawn Simpson, who works at Mort's Trophies, across Davie Street from the parking deck, said Tuesday that she doesn't like looking at the structure's concrete walls every day. Customers always ask about it, she said, and she's happy the walls will soon be covered up.

"From what I understand, they're still planning to build, but I think it's a good stopgap, so we at least have something pretty to look at," Simpson said.

Some downtown workers panned the idea of the banners, however.

"Raleigh is a beautiful place at night, but that mural with fishes? I don't like it at all," said Eddrenia Wilson, who referred to the unadorned parking deck "an ugly duckling."

Crews are expected to have all 15 banners up within two weeks, officials said, but the artwork won't be officially unveiled until the First Friday events downtown on Aug. 5.

Wake County libraries plans to hold a series of programs based on the scenes in the mural.