A group that includes North Carolina FC owner Steve Malik is signaling a willingness to complete a sprawling development in Raleigh with or without an MLS stadium, as developers acquire needed property for the proposal.
Malik, owner of USL Championship’s North Carolina FC and NWSL’s North Carolina Courage, has partnered with developer John Kane to propose the Downtown South development. First unveiled over the summer, the Downtown South proposal included a new 20,000-seat outdoor stadium as part of a larger redevelopment initiative estimated at nearly $2 billion. While Malik has previously expressed his desire for an MLS expansion club, those prospects are uncertain at this point for a number of reasons, including MLS’s recent decision to award Charlotte its 30th team and questions over whether the league will move forward with future expansion.
Despite that, momentum for Kane and Malik’s Downtown South proposal continues, as developers recently paid $19.6 million for 88 acres targeted for the project. The stadium has been pitched as just one amenity in a very sprawling proposal, with 1.6 million square feet of office space, 1,200 hotel rooms, 1,750 apartments and 125,000 square feet of retail also part of the proposed scope of the development. More from the News & Observer:
“Some things that were important to Steve and John were that they did not want to disturb an existing neighborhood,” said Billie Redmond, CEO of TradeMark Properties, the Raleigh real estate firm involved with Kane Realty on the project. “We’re opening up an entire district of an area that is largely undeveloped and underutilized.”
The purchase of the first tract of land is split across both sides of the I-40 beltline next to South Saunders Street and was bought from the North Carolina Equipment Company for $11 million. The second site at the intersection of I-40 and South Wilmington Street was bought for $8.6 million from Elite Waste Services, a Raleigh waste company.
The remaining 44.5 acres of land for the proposed stadium to the right of South Saunders Street and Penmarc Drive will be purchased next year from seller Alice Penny, Redmond said.
With this project, Malik and Kane are seeking to bring an uptick in economic activity to an area south of downtown Raleigh with a multi-faceted development that would offer more than the stadium. Prospects for MLS expansion are very much uncertain at this point, given that MLS has not committed to going beyond 30 teams and, even if it does, might not be inclined to award a club to Raleigh on the heels of approving Charlotte’s bid. It is worth noting, though, that Malik has indicated in the past that the development is not contingent on MLS, and that the stadium could still be part of the plans with a focus on USL Championship and NWSL matches and other entertainment. The property acquisition, at the very least, signals that he and Kane are intent on moving forward with the development, despite very real questions about the viability of obtaining an MLS club.
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