Raleigh preps 20-story downtown city hall

 In October 2018

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Rendering provided by Gensler.

A big city needs a big city hall, prompting Raleigh politicians to push for a 20-story structure that could open as soon as 2023. The capital’s city council approved a plan for a $190 million building with 420,000 square feet, consolidating 1,050 workers now in six downtown sites. It would become North Carolina’s biggest municipal building.

Councilors concluded that a bigger upfront cost will pay off, with enough space for 10 to 15 years of growth if city staff expands at its historic pace, says Joe Michael, a city senior urban designer. The tower is slated for the corner of McDowell and Hargett streets, replacing the city’s old, unused police headquarters.

Since the adjacent Raleigh Municipal Building opened in 1983, the city’s population has more than tripled to 460,000. The council also favors expansion rather than paying an estimated $80 million to maintain the city’s downtown properties over the next two decades. If it doesn’t build its own structure, the city will spend $120 million to $160 million in leasing costs over that period, officials say.

“What taxpayers don’t see is the cost of leasing space in downtown Raleigh, where there’s a shortage of office space,” Michael notes. Raleigh now spends more than $1 million annually for about 42,000 square feet of space at privately owned downtown buildings. Leases for the most desired center-city offices now top $30 a square foot.


Garnering success

Amazon is continuing its march across the state with a 2.6 million-square-foot fulfillment center in Garner in a record $200 million investment for the Wake County town, says Joseph Stallings, the town’s economic development director. While the Seattle-based online retailer isn’t saying, the four-story building could involve more high-tech equipment than other Amazon sites, he says. “It’s been called a robotics sorting facility.”

At an expected 1,500 employees, Amazon will dwarf Garner’s largest existing private employers, Pergo and Golden State Foods, each with 200 to 300 people, Stallings says. The city also will benefit from Baker Roofing’s plan to move its headquarters and several hundred jobs from Raleigh to a former Kmart in Garner.

Amazon considered sites in Alabama, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin before picking Garner, Stallings says. The company didn’t ask for state incentives, which would have entailed a pledge to create a set number of jobs at a guaranteed pay scale. The N.C. Department of Transportation and the town are putting up $5.1 million for road improvements for the site, where ConAgra produced Slim Jim meat snacks.

Amazon operates or is building large distribution or sorting centers in Charlotte, Durham, Kannapolis and Kernersville as part of its national push to speed deliveries.


RALEIGH — BMC Stock Holdings is moving its 25-employee headquarters here from Atlanta. The company formed after the 2015 merger of BMC and Raleigh-based Stock Building Supply.

RALEIGH — Software firm Pendo raised $50 million in venture-capital funding, led by Silicon Valley-based Sapphire Ventures. The 228-employee company will expand in Europe and Asia.

DURHAM — British drugmaker Glaxo-SmithKline is laying off 100 employees at its Research Triangle Park campus as part of a plan to cut 650 U.S. jobs. GSK employs about 2,900 in North Carolina, including 2,000 at RTP.

CARY — Fortnite developer Epic Games is expanding its headquarters to include a three-story, 93,000-square-foot office building. Epic employs more than 300 people in North Carolina.

CHAPEL HILL — Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bancorp bought the Franklin Street Partners investment firm for undisclosed terms. The local company employs 42 and manages more than $2 billion.

SANFORD — Dowa Thermotech, a Japanese metal-processing and furnace-making company, is investing $22.5 million in a new plant here and will hire 109 workers. The average annual wage will be about $35,000.

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