The Raleigh Rewind

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Welcome to another edition of the Raleigh Rewind, where we travel back to a time of Tab Cola, Pepsi Free and cassette-based Walkmans.

Looking over the major headlines for the week of March 23, 1985 it would appear not much has changed — growing concern over the protection of Falls Lake, a drunk NC State fan injuring himself following a Pack win and drama over downtown development.

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There were two particularly interesting development cases in the news that week, so let’s take a quick look at the kind of problems developers were facing way back when.

On March 23, 1985, the Raleigh Times reported that a Texas developer was planning a high-rise hotel and offices for the Fayetteville Street Mall area. The developer, Charles Marsh, planned to invest $46 million in the project, noting “We think Raleigh’s got probably more potential and vitality than any other midmarket city in the country.” Marsh went on to say that Raleigh was a “City of the ‘80s and ‘90s, oriented to high technology — and not just electronics. I like the forward-looking concept of research and development.”

The proposal included a $17 million, 20-story office building, a $15.5 million, 350-room luxury hotel and 10,00 square feet of space for apartments or condos, with parking underneath. The article noted that two other planned developments for the mall announced since 1982 — which at the time was only 3 years past — had “failed to garner the financial support necessary.” Critics also feared that high-rise buildings would overshadow the historic capitol.

It also noted that the then-new, 362-room Radisson Plaza had lost $8.2 million since opening three years earlier, but that its developer was in the middle of building a 17-story office building near the civic center. The article was capped off with a sentence that could be applied to almost any new downtown development today.

 Marsh said the downtown site was chosen because that’s where he thinks the city’s most dynamic growth will be in the coming years.

Meanwhile, on March 25, under the headline “High-rise office buildings, hotel plans unveiled”  the Raleigh Times reported that H.S. Lichtin Developers had announced plans for two 10-story office buildings, three 7-story office buildings and a 16-story hotel.

The $150 million project would be developed on a 41.3 acre tract at the southwest corner of Jones Franklin and US 64, placing it just inside the beltline but also on the border of Cary. H.S. Lichtin himself noted that they had plans to eventually develop 939,255 square feet worth of space for the project.

Lichtin went on to explain his own prescient, still-applicable reasoning behind his choice of land.

 “Commercial development in the area has shifted to the I-40 corridor,” he said. “This particular point is really where the three major growth factors in the area join — Cary, Raleigh and 40 going out to the (Research Triangle) Park.”

Lichtin said he hoped the office building would be completed first, by May of 1986, with the hotel to follow at an undetermined time.

So what happened to these projects, you may be asking? Did Marsh build his high-end, high-rise hotel on Fayetteville? Did Lichtin develop a mixed-use office park on the border of Cary? Tune in to Monday’s Development Beat for the answers! In the meantime, we’ll leave you with this tidbit, found in the March 25 article.

 A recent study by Carolantic Realty Co. showed only 82 percent of the available office space in Wake County and the Research Triangle Park was occupied …. James I. Anthony, who compiled the Carolantic survey, said “The occupancy rate in the Triangle is substantially lower than anybody thought it was. It doesn’t support the development we’re seeing now.”

Headline Roundup

The following headlines are all taken from issues of the Raleigh Times dating between March 23 and March 29 1985.

Court’s Ruling on Overtime Holds Shock for State, City

Confident Cap’n Jim on Hand as Pack Howls

Local Laws Just Drop in Bucket for Falls’ Protection

Raleigh Man Injured During Celebration

A White Elephant? Senator’s Rhino Painting Gets New Home

Cab Firms Overcharge for ’84-’85

Budget Leaders Call for Hiring Freeze, Job Cuts

Class action suit Seeks Overtime for Troopers

Transformer Explodes Downtown

Slain Show Dog was Close to Champ Elite

Parents Say DPT Vaccine Injured Infant, Sue Doctor

Police Climb ‘Ladder’ of Drug Arrests

Drug Abuse Becomes Common in Nation’s Police Departments

City Officials Tour Maryland Facility, Oppose Market on Dix Land

Bill Sponsor Says Lottery Makes Winners Out of Losers

Court Bars Shooting of Unarmed, Fleeing Suspects

Jurors Hearing Klan Civil Suit View Videotape of Shootout

Laffer of the week:

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