Downtown South, Raleigh, NC – Advisory Service Panel

Date:  August 18 – 23, 2019

Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

Sponsor: Kane Realty Corporation & North Carolina Football Club

Subject Area: Economic Development, Stadium Financing and Neighborhood Engagement

Panel Chair: Leigh Ferguson, Director of Economic Development, Downtown Development District of New Orleans – New Orleans, LA

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Background and Panel Assignment

A ULI Panel was convened to evaluate the possibilities for Downtown South, a proposed mixed-use development consisting of approximately 1.7 million square feet of office, retail and residential located 1 mile south of the central business district on South Saunders Street. The focal point of the development is a proposed 20,000 seat soccer stadium. The panel was asked to provide strategic advice on creative financing for the development, place-making, external connectivity (including downtown, the North Carolina State University Centennial Campus, Dix Park, the Farmers Market and the Warehouse District) and steps to ensure involvement with and consideration for the adjacent neighborhoods. The panel’s visit took place August 18-23, 2019.

The panel was chaired by longtime ULI member Leigh Ferguson, the Director of Economic Development at the Downtown Development District of New Orleans.

Summary of Recommendations

The panel recommended a series of organizational and physical elements that could address the impact of the new development and provide an outline for the financing of the stadium and the associated infrastructure for the new development. These recommendations include:

  • Transformational Development – Recognition that the proposed development and stadium offer the citizens of Raleigh a unique opportunity to transform South Raleigh. It is a rare opportunity to transform the area into a vibrant gateway to the city and an economic investment that can provide significant benefits beyond the project property.
  • A Community Investment Structure and a Communication and Engagement Plan that recognizes the existing neighborhoods and culture in South Raleigh. The engagement plan focuses on existing neighborhood needs and transparency throughout the development process.
  • Planning and Design features including:
    • Place-making opportunities
    • Embracing on-site natural features, particularly the Greenway
    • Interim uses that can act as catalysts
    • Wayfinding and Branding suggestions
    • Mobility and Connectivity
    • Open-space ideas and a cultural/heritage trail suggestion that connects with the larger regional systems
  • Ownership – An ownership structure focuses on an authority for the stadium and supporting activities that consider other sports and activities that can maintain support for the facility.
  • Finance
    • A comprehensive financing program that maximizes public value, addresses neighborhood impacts, monetizes private investment and enhances a public -private partnership culture.
    • A development program that not only includes financing the Downtown South Development and Stadium, but broad-based housing ownership, neighborhood revitalization, mobility and transit and connectivity to the adjacent areas.
    • A focus on using multiple sources of funding including private debt, owner equity, local state and federal sources for infrastructure, inter-local funds, and most importantly the unique Tax Increment Financing (TIF) opportunity in North Carolina known as Synthetic TIF.

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