$1.9B investment could bring soccer stadium, hotels, shopping to downtown Raleigh

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Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Development a game-changer for downtown Raleigh
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Development a game-changer for downtown Raleigh

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's being called a "game-changer" in downtown Raleigh, and on Tuesday, those behind the ambitious project revealed details of the plan.

It's called "Downtown South," an entertainment district on 55 acres at downtown Raleigh's southern edge, at S. Saunders Street and Interstate 40.

Images released from the Visit Downtown South website show renderings for a development that includes a 20,000-seat, open-air soccer stadium surrounded by street-level retail, office space, and housing.

"This is going to be something that's going to be very unique to our city," developer John Kane said. "It's going to change the gateway into the city at South Saunders. It's going to really be a game-changer, I think, for our city, and it's going to be a game-changer for that part of our city. The Southeast Raleigh sector has not had the love that it needs, and we're going to try and give it that love."

The website said a private investment of $1.9 billion is making the development possible. However, the group is asking Wake County for $13 million per year in interlocal funds -- commonly known as hotel/motel taxes.

WATCH: Does this bring Raleigh closer to Major League Soccer?

At a news conference Tuesday, officials said the plan proposes 1,200 hotel rooms, 1.6 million square feet of office space and 125,000 square feet of retail and service space.

Kane said the hotel rooms will also serve downtown Raleigh and the convention center.

Billie Redmond, the founder of Trademark Properties, said the project would create $4.1 billion worth of economic activity in 15 years, including $473 million in average annual economic activity.

Redmond also said the project would add $5.4 million in average annual state income tax revenue and $1.6 million in average annual state sales tax revenue.

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The stadium will become the home of North Carolina FC, and women's pro team the North Carolina Courage.

It will also be home to concerts, festivals, graduations, trade shows, and championship-level sporting events.

North Carolina Football Club Chairman Steve Malik shared research behind the proposed development. He said 74 percent of people in Wake County supported developing an entertainment district in the south Raleigh area.

"This is an exciting opportunity for our organization," Malik said. "Our vision is to make the Downtown Raleigh Entertainment District a world-class destination, offering an exceptional social experience for fans and the community. The benefits of this project are significant. Between the job creation, economic activity, and enhancement to our vibrant downtown cityscape, we are confident the community will embrace it as the city continues to grow and offer more to its residents."

The group behind the proposal said construction on the project could begin in early 2020, with the stadium and first phase of development being completed by 2023.

"This project holds tremendous promise for the City of Raleigh," Kane said. "It's unlike anything I've worked on in my career. To be part of something that would enhance the lifestyle and overall appeal of our city while strengthening the local economy in such a meaningful way is powerful. I'm hopeful that the Raleigh City Council and Board of County Commissioners will enable this transformational project to become a reality."