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5 new office towers for downtown Raleigh?!


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Dreams for downtown Raleigh

In a push to justify costs, boosters see a vibrant new city rising

By J. ANDREW CURLISS, Staff Writer

RALEIGH -- The city and county's big push for downtown Raleigh is well under way.

In the past month, elected leaders have agreed to spend tax money on a new convention center and Marriott hotel next door.

They settled years of debate about whether to reopen Fayetteville Street to traffic. They will.

Construction cranes hover above the city, piecing together Progress Energy's new office tower. Down below, backhoes are turning dirt for at least two new condominium projects in the city's core.

And now, the developers, planners and elected officials are working on more -- more efforts to lure offices and nightlife and residences.

As part of that work, the city has crafted a report that tries to accomplish the impossible: a look into the future.

The report identifies key plots of land downtown and predicts what could happen on them next, and when.

It was drawn to justify a new plan to borrow $20 million over the next few years for downtown infrastructure, much of it for Fayetteville Street. Council members have yet to act.

Most of the downtown forecasting is based on little more than conjecture and guesswork, officials say.

"But clearly, there's going to be a lot of stuff happening," said Dan Howe, an assistant city manager who is focused on downtown. "People right now are scheming and dreaming."

Howe said that governments are "priming the pump" with the new convention facilities, a planned regional rail stop and the Fayetteville Street renovations.

"If that isn't enough, we'll be surprised," he said.

If the city's guesses are correct, the next years will bring big change to the downtown skyline -- and to its pulse.

In the mix would be at least five new office towers, a "boutique" hotel near the convention center, and new condos. Older buildings would jump with new life.

Between now and 2010, Allen says, investment downtown should top $650 million. It's a figure he thinks is conservative.

It's also ambitious. To compare, all of the private property downtown right now is valued for tax purposes at $529 million.

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Usually, I am the one who gets very enthusiastic about new towers (and then I feel let down when the developers scale down), but this time I chose to be more skeptic and try to separate myths from reality way in advance. There are no plans for [at least] 5 office towers. The ONLY ones that possibly qualify are the 14-story mixed-use Reynolds Building (proposal) and the RBC/Centura tower (not certain until the bank actually decides to move its headquarters to DT Raleigh). What the city is enthusiastic about, and this is possibly where the 5 "towers" will go is the south end of downtown, which is nearly empty, as of today. The city asked for a vision and this is all they received. The 5 office towers are probably [up to] 10-story buildings that they choose to call towers. I asked a person who is VERY involved and she had no idea about any 5 office towers being even proposed. Believe me, if she has not heard anything about it, 99% of the people involved haven't either. This is more of a vision, slightly exaggerated. Don't get me wrong, it may turn out to be something, but not enough to create momentum and enthusiasm. The area to be developed is this:


This is also part of an earlier vision, where you see two identical towers sitting on the lot North of the BTI Center (shown above as Tract 1 and Tract 2):


I am glad about how things go in DT Raleigh, but I am scared of any over-enthusiastic attitude the city officers/managers may demonstrate. Hopefully, the city will be able to back up its claims and show us what's causing these announcements to make it to the public. I'll keep you guys posted if I hear something concrete.

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Nice thought, Cityboi, but I am afraid it won't happen :( RTP has pretty much "locked" the research industry in the Triangle. However, if you meant college research, then I agree. In fact, a School of Business and/or Urban Design would make a lot of sense. I hope someone will consider this. If they could pour 1000 students into the streets of DT Raleigh, the impact would have been tremendous, especially if NCSU would consider building 1-2 residential towers/dormitories within DT Raleigh limits.

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