The N.C. State Bar is poised to build a four-story, $14 million headquarters in downtown Raleigh.
The state agency, which regulates the legal profession, has secured a site at the corner of Blount and Edenton streets for a new 60,000-square-foot building that it expects to begin constructing next year. Target date for occupying the building is the first half of 2012, said Tom Lunsford, executive director.
The bar has outgrown its current downtown headquarters on Fayetteville Street, a 28,000 square-foot building it moved into in 1979 when it had 13 employees, said Lunsford. Today it has a staff of about 75.
"We don't have enough space now for the work we are entrusted to do, and the number of lawyers is going to...double over the next 20 years, according to all projections," said Raleigh attorney John McMillan of Manning Fulton & Skinner, who is president of the state bar.
"We have been looking at it for two years," McMillan added. "We are doing this deliberately."
Although the bar is a state agency, it isn't funded by tax dollars -- and the building won't be, either, said Lunsford.
The bar hopes to realize "several million dollars" from the sale of its current building and pay for the rest with its cash reserves, dues from its 23,000 member lawyers and borrowed funds, said Lunsford. State law mandates that lawyers be members of the bar.
However, the site of the new building is state-owned land that the bar is leasing for a nominal fee: $1 for 99 years.
"It is essentially free space," he said. A state-run parking lot currently occupies the site.
The bar has hired a Winston-Salem architecture firm, Calloway Johnson Moore & West, to design its new headquarters.