The Raleigh (NC) Planning Commission rejected a $2.2-billion new Raleigh stadium development plan for the Downtown South area, deciding that the project was too disruptive for residents of the area.
The potential cost of a new Raleigh stadium with 10,000 fixed seats and a total 12,000 capacity: between $140.7 million for a basic stadium and $210.7 million for a high-end facility with the potential expandability for MLS soccer. The USL Championship/NWSL stadium has been pitched as just one amenity in a 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.
The Raleigh Planning Commission, however, was critical of the proposal, saying it would bring too much gentrification to an area that is in need of more basic economic development for existing residents and businesses. From WUNC:
“This rezoning application shows a vicious disregard for equity and fairness,” said Commissioner Michele McIntosh. “The application’s refusal to acknowledge and mitigate the upheaval and damage that this project will bring to our social fabric is not healthy for our city.”
Quoting the Dalai Lama, Commissioner Nicole Bennett said her prime purpose was to help people; and if not to help them, at least not to hurt them.
“That strikes me because I feel like this rezoning at this time – and I said I think it’s just before its time – has the potential to hurt a lot of people,” Bennett said. “Perhaps the people that would be helped outnumber the people that would be hurt, but I think the significance of the people that would be hurt is enough that I have to vote ‘no’ today. Because I think the timing is wrong, and I think we would be hurting some of our most vulnerable people.”
This criticism didn’t appear from nowhere, and it appears the developers as well as North Carolina Football Club owner Steve Malik worked to address those concerns with an announcement that they’d be working with Raleigh Raised Development (RRD) to guarantee significant participation of local minority businesses throughout the entire development, beginning with the contracts and construction of the District.
“RRD collectively, and I personally, am excited to help shape and champion the local participation and workforce development of this district. The community of South Raleigh will benefit greatly from a project of this magnitude. The endless possibilities of economic growth and career opportunities is long overdue and will continue to persevere for generations long after,” said LeVelle Moton, co-founder of Raleigh Raised Development, via press release.
The rejection from the Raleigh Planning Commission doesn’t doom the project: the Raleigh City Council will discuss the issue at a Dec. 15 meeting.
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