If downtown Raleigh had as much interest from lenders as it did parking, the City Council and City Manager Russell Allen would be very happy people.
Last week the council voted to lease the property at 301 Hillsborough Street to Campbell University so that the school can turn it into a parking lot. You may recall that the land was supposed to be sold to the Reynolds Company, who were going to develop it into a hotel. But Reynolds could never nail down financing for the project, and the City Council and Allen got tired of waiting so they terminated the agreement earlier this year.
Now the giant hole in the ground at 301 Hillsborough has been filled, and Campbell Law students and faculty will soon be able to park across from the school's new home, which opens next month. The lease agreement was approved at the same meeting where the council gave the developers behind Charter Square more time to get their two-tower project off the ground. The developers were given an extension largely because they are about to finish an underground parking deck below the site, which is at the south end of Fayetteville Street next to the City Plaza.
The city will buy the deck for about $25 million once it's complete. And let's not forget the Wake County parking deck that was just finished on the other side of the convention center. That deck is supposed to be surrounded by Empire Properties L Building, another project halted by the credit crunch.
Downtown Raleigh already had a lot of parking before these latest decks, so it seems reasonable to ask why the city appears to have never met a parking deck/lot it didn't like. The leasing of 301 Hillsborough is a sensible short-term use of the property, but are all these parking decks necessary? They're not cheap, after all, particularly when they're being build underground.
What do you think?