Wake County hosts State of the County at PNC Arena, which is topic of expansion plans in near future

Tuesday, November 14, 2023
Wake County hosts State of the County at PNC Arena
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Wake County held its annual State of the County address at PNC Arena on Monday night,

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Wake County held its annual State of the County address at PNC Arena on Monday night, months after county commissioners gave the final approval needed for a massive renovation project at the venue.

At least a 100,000 square feet of additional space is going to be added to PNC Arena soon. The expansion will bring more retail, food and beverage options.

"This space will undergo a major glow up, elevated fan experience with better seating, better food offerings and improving the buildings infrastructure to attract bigger and better concerts and family events," Commission Shinica Thomas said.

The Centennial Authority oversees PNC Arena and Executive Director Jeff Merritt said officials are hoping to start construction in summer 2024.

PNC Arena expects to receive $300 million of tourism tax money to use for renovations and updates.

"It's always important to have the major league teams," Wake County Commissioners Chair Shinica Thomas said. "Professional sports is a draw for everyone in our community, from the littlest residents to our senior residents."

Wake County said the facility is just part of the efforts in place to continue growing the local economy.

Other topics discussed Monday night included transit, education, partnerships with non-profits and a facility that gives folks struggling with homelessness a reliable place to sleep at night.

"(What) I'm most proud of is the Bryant Center. The fact that we're going to have at least until March, we've been looking for a permanent facility, but we're going to have a facility that homeless folks can go to every single night. It's going to be open regardless of weather," Thomas said.

Wake County is also looking to make more investments in affordable housing. Leaders are participating in a listening tour currently; they're talking to individual municipalities about specific needs in an effort to create a plan that can uplift the entire county.

Wake County is holding its State of the County address at PNC Arena, months after county commissioners approved a renovation project there.

"Each community has their own identity, so we're talking to them about what they want it to look like in their community and how Wake County can come alongside them and help make that a reality," said Thomas.

The growth in Wake County is undeniable and ultimately unavoidable.

"Having grown up here, I love it, but with the influx of people from the north is changing the culture. So, us who are used to that quiet southern atmosphere, we need to gear up for our new neighbors," Vickie Stanford said.

Thomas said the county invested $20 million for the next fiscal year toward affordable housing initiatives, in an attempt to address the continued influx of people. Thomas took time to highlight the county's "Lease 2 Own" program which helps get low income renters into homes.

"Since 2021, the program has worked with nearly 70 landlords to secure more than 400 affordable housing units. Half already been leased and the remaining 200 are in the pipeline soon to be leased," she said.

The county is also on the road with an affordable housing tour where leaders have visited communities like Apex, Roseville and Knightdale to focus on the housing needs.

Another topic of discussion was transportation specifically construction of the first corridor of the Bus Rapid Transit.