State hung up on Moore Square proposal

Moore Square

March 17, 2011 7:55:27 PM PDT
The state is balking at two elements in a plan to renovate Moore Square in downtown Raleigh.While the city maintains Moore Square, it's owned by the state and lawmakers aren't thrilled about certain aspects of the $14.8 million proposal.

The proposed changes to the area are still in the planning stages. Realistically, even if plans get the go-ahead from Raleigh's Parks and Recreations board and the city council, ground wouldn't be broken for another two years.

"Redeveloping Moore Square is just the next step in turning Raleigh into the world class city it's striving to be for the last five years with all the development downtown," said Cassie Schumacher-Georgopoulos with the City of Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department.

Highlights include a performance plaza, new walkways and a splash fountain -- among other amenities.

"It's revitalizing that green space to make it function for the events that people love it for," Schumacher-Georgopoulos said.

One suggestion to do that would involve adding a cafe kiosk, along with underground bathrooms that would be built into a hill.

But it's the permanent structures that the state has an issue with -- a statute from 1899 gave Raleigh permission to landscape Moore Square, but it did not grant permission to erect buildings on the space.

The secretary of administration is expected to voice the state's objections at a Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department meeting Thursday night.

"We want to keep it in the master plan, but if we can't, we'll make the appropriate changes," Schumacher-Georgopoulos said. "It's just one more element to draw people to the square and give people a reason to visit the Moore Square district."

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker has said he'd like to keep the buildings in the proposal, but that it's not a deal breaker and he's optimistic a resolution can be reached to keep the plan moving forward.

However, one concern that's been voiced by some critics is the safety of the park -- citing a recent fatal stabbing involving two homeless men. But city officials say the number of actual incidents is actually very low and that the area is safe. And by making proposed improvements to the park, they hope to change people's perception of it.

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