A little outside our typical watch area, last week, Steve Malik, the owner of the North Carolina Football Club, and John Kane, a Raleigh developer, announced a $2 billion vision for the area near South Saunders and I-40. Downtown South would be a mix of office, residential, and hotels around a 20,000 seat soccer stadium.
All the details are over at visitdowntownsouth.com.
Recall that a downtown soccer stadium was proposed in July 2017 as Major League Soccer was touring cities as possible expansion teams for the league. This time around, Malik says that a pro team is not needed for the area’s success.
The stadium could be used for NC Courage and NCFC games as well as events. The area would be supported by mixed-use development including:
- 125,000 square feet of retail/restaurant space
- 1.6 million square feet of office space
- 1,200 hotel rooms
- 1,750 residential units
A huge kicker to all this is the need for public funding. The group will be pursuing $13 million a year for 20-25 years which is typically funded from the Wake County room occupancy and prepared food and beverage taxes.
Assuming the county backs the request for funds, the group claims construction could start in 2020 with the stadium and first phase completed in 2023.
The current site is actually a bit empty with a few businesses and one-story buildings. The group has rights to develop land between Saunders and Wilmington. Note, this does not include the Bain Water Plant located along Water Works Street.
While not downtown proper, a large project like this has the potential to stretch the urban grid south towards the highway. It’s only 1.5 miles from the proposed soccer stadium to the Raleigh Convention Center or the big field in Dix Park.
The future Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line is planned to use either Saunders or Wilmington which would be a great service for events as well as commuters to the new office space. It would be great to get out in front of the development and encourage transit-friendly integration and lower parking requirements.
The street grid between Downtown South and the core business district isn’t as urban as it should be and historically has been widened for faster car travel. If Downtown South is built out to it’s fullest, future planning may couple the two areas closer together setting off more urban development in-between.
This one will be fun to watch so make sure to let your representatives know what you think as the developers claim this vision won’t happen without those public funds.