Economy stalls downtown revitalization

RALEIGH While the 33-story RBC Plaza was still under construction, nearly all of the project's 139 condos were under contract. Since then, 53 buyers have defaulted.

City leaders say it's just one of many projects affected by the nationwide downturn.

"The credit market is making it very difficult to obtain a mortgage, therefore buy units, and so we are seeing a slowdown in terms of people purchasing condos downtown and across the city," explained Raleigh Planning Director Mitchell Silver.

And it's not just completed buildings. Many just aren't getting off the ground. On Hillsborough Street, the city recently broke off its agreement with the developer who was going to put up a tower because the builder couldn't secure financing.

Blocks away, a project called the Lafayette that is supposed to stand across from the convention center is stalled. So too is one call the "l", which is supposed to wrap around and hide a new unsightly parking deck.

The Edison, which will eventually be a four-tower project near City Market is also on hold.

"There's just not money there to borrow, so some of the developers are not able to come up with the cash required to make some of these deals, so we're seeing projects across the board basically on hold," said Silver.

Leaders insist the news isn't all bad downtown. They point projects like the City Plaza which is under construction as evidence, and say newly opened projects like the Marriott Hotel and Convention Center are succeeding so far.

Some projects have even opened in the last few months -- including West at North near Glenwood South.

"It's certainly not doom and gloom. When we look at other places across the country, we are very comfortable with where Raleigh is right now," said Silver.

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