Raleigh City Council approves redevelopment plan for Shaw University downtown campus in 5-3 vote

Wednesday, June 21, 2023
Shaw plan approved despite passionate opposition
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When Raleigh city council first took a vote on the rezoning today, it appeared to fail -- even receiving applause from rezoning opponents in attendance.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Raleigh leaders have voted in favor of a controversial plan to rezone a section of Shaw University's downtown campus.

When Raleigh city council first took a vote on the rezoning today, it appeared to fail -- even receiving applause from rezoning opponents in attendance. The first vote only saw two council members vote in favor before Councilor Jane Harrison gave a lengthy address, ending in her decision to vote in favor, too. City Council then regrouped, voted again, and passed the measure 5-3.

Some opponents of Shaw U District jeered and walked out as the council passed the measure, with one person accusing the mayor of "manipulating the vote".

During public comment, opponents said the neighborhood around Shaw is being treated differently than other parts of the city. In May, Council denied a rezoning near Glenwood South that would have allowed construction up to 30 stories -- the same height allowed under Shaw's rezoning.

"Z-59-22 is in the south side, the Black neighborhood. We want our neighborhood saved as well. Y'all saved their daylight, y'all saved their sunlight. We want ours saved as well," said Eugene Myrick, a Shaw Alumnus.

After the measure passed, Dr. Paulette Dillard, Shaw's President, thanked Council and the school's supporters and vowed to do right by those concerned.

"We are committed to our students, we are committed to our community, and we will do what we have said we would do around the conditions in the rezoning application," Dillard said.

Dillard declined to answer any questions from the media

Since the rezoning plan was released months ago, there has been a strong reaction from both supporters and opponents of the plan.

University leadership backed the plan, saying it is important for the school's financial future.

The plan would lease parts of the campus to developers to create retail, office and residential space. The goal is to modernize the campus, attract new students and integrate Shaw more into the fabric of downtown Raleigh.

Opponents of the plan, including some alumni, are not convinced and have criticized the plan for lacking in transparency.

They fear the plan will give developers too much influence, and ultimately could lead to historic buildings on campus being destroyed

SEE ALSO | 'Save our Shaw': Demonstrators protest rezoning of HBCU in Raleigh

"Our historic buildings will be lost, our history will be lost. And I am asking you all to stick to the policy and vote this disastrous thing down," contended Myrick, who spoke against the plan during public comment.

Each side was initially allotted six minutes to speak; however, two additional minutes were added to account for all of the speakers to have an opportunity at the podium.

"I am actually heartbroken. My husband has told me over and over again not to cry, but I cannot help it," Shaw alum Kesha Monk said. Monk is the co-founder of SaveOurShaw Coalition. "I haven't slept in several days because I know if this rezoning request is approved, this will be the end of the Shaw. This will definitely be the end of Shaw."

In February, the Raleigh Planning Commission voted 7-1 in favor of the plan.