Checking In on Market and Exchange Plaza

Exchange Plaza, December 2015

, December 2015

The overhaul of Market and Exchange plazas started in the Spring of 2015 and this project is hopefully nearing completion. Taking a looksee recently though, the plazas might not be ready for New Year’s. It would have been a nice bonus to be done before First Night but I’m sure plenty of events will take advantage of the new plazas next year.

Exchange Plaza (shown above) still has crew workers digging and most of the sitting wall hasn’t been installed yet. There’s better news for (shown below) as it really is starting to look like its renderings.

Market Plaza, December 2015

Market Plaza, December 2015

I’m really looking forward to these spaces being activated and creating new uses that weren’t taking place before.

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Comments

People are probably going to disagree with me on this, but I have hated these upgrades since the price tag for them was announced. It seemed more about boosting 227 Fayetteville St’s property value as opposed to spending for the overall public benefit.Besides the Quiznos, the juice place, and the back of the Square Rabbit/Romantic Taz (which will both soon become a Lou Moshakos restaurant) everything is office space. I don’t see that changing so that’s why I don’t see the value in going to the extent they did. Not enough new economic activity will be generated. If they just took out those floral arrangements that were the last holdovers from the street mall era they could have opened up and activated the space. Sprinkle in a few benches or tables for people to sit, add some more lighting since homeless people tended to congregate their after dark, and it’s done. What they are doing now is nice but excessive and expensive.

I wonder why is it taking so long to finish?

The TBJ reported yesterday that the state will likely issue an RFP in January for 1 million SF of office space for DHHS staff. This sounds similar to the 2012 RFP issued during the Perdue administration that eventually fizzled (when her administration ended).

The article didn’t mention whether the state prefers a site downtown (as the 2012 RFP did) but the article did say that the state wants to move employees away from the Dorothea Dix campus sooner rather than later due to the high cost of maintaining buildings there. Furthermore, this RFP is reported to seek a public/private partnership which dovetails quite nicely into Governor McCrory’s recently announced project “Phoenix” which looks to rejuvenate the north side of downtown through this very type of partnership.

Could it be that the large parking lot just east of NC Natural history museum (Jones, Wilmington, Edenton, Blount) might come into play? This parcel was specifically mentioned when project Phoenix was announced. We are talking about 3.83 acres here (not including historic house at SE corner) plus the remaining 2.04 acres potentially available in the next block not already claimed by the NC Bar Association building. The state already owns all of this property and it is nothing but a cleared, paved parking lot.

It’s exciting to think about a large mixed use project being built here with state offices, ground floor retail and apartments. Perhaps I’m thinking “pie in the sky” but this is exactly what project Phoenix is envisioned to accomplish. It’s always nice to dream big, right?

@LHOOQ, I agree. When they cut the beautiful maple trees down I had a few words for the tree plan reviewer. Reason was the roots were impacting the foundations of the buildings. Ha It is taking so long cause it is a city project and the plans were terrible. I have issues with 1.2 million not including any change orders so 1.5 -2,000,000 maybe when done for a bathroom for the homeless. You can’t walk in OEP in the morning without stepping over the urine at the door. Holt Brothers who’s employee is Mary Baldwin got the contract. . Next is the 8-10 upgrades to the bathrooms at Moore Square bus station. I suggested a porta john in the elevator! City spends millions on consultants that are so lost.

I am excited about the renovation, but not sure if I agree with the budgets, etc. I think the city needs to focus on Wilmington and Salisbury next as well as some of the popular crossover streets. Think of all the business on Hargett and what that Street would look like with some renovations!

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