The city has purchased and plans to demolish a motel on Capital Boulevard as part of a larger plan to clear flood-prone properties and create a more attractive gateway into downtown.
Raleigh bought the Capital Inn on the 1600 block of Capital Boulevard for $1.1 million. It’s the second hotel and fourth parcel of land the city has purchased along the thoroughfare on downtown’s northern edge.
The state Department of Transportation plans to redo the Capital Boulevard bridges that pass over Wade Avenue and Peace Street. The city is buying properties north of the area in hopes of planting trees and shrubs and creating more green space.
The 2.44-acre Capital Inn property featured hotel rooms and most recently housed a dance hall called the Zanzibar Club.
“These are little pieces of a much larger puzzle,” said Benjamin Brown, a senior project engineer for the city’s Stormwater Management Division.
Raleigh used state and federal grant money to buy the hotel, and officials closed on the deal May 2, Brown said. Some of the funds came from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which grants money to buy flood-prone properties. The Capital Inn site was known to flood.
The city also bought the Milner Inn and the Foxy Lady adult entertainment center with FEMA funds in 2014.
In 2012, Raleigh spent $1 million of its own money to purchase and raze an old bowling alley adjacent to the Milner Inn and $317,000 for a property that once housed a Dunkin’ Donuts.
That building will come down as part of the Capital Inn’s demolition, which is expected to cost between $150,000 and $200,000.
City leaders hope the projects will slow water runoff, minimize flooding and improve water quality in the Pigeon House Branch, a stream considered one of the city’s dirtiest.
Pigeon House drains much of northern downtown, and because roughly 80 percent of the surface area is paved or developed, pollutants like sediment and nitrogen rush to the creek.
“By taking out concrete and impervious surfaces, you’re giving that nitrogen somewhere else to go beside the creek,” Brown said.
Several businesses remain in the area where Raleigh is buying properties, including a used-car dealership, fish market and pawn shop. Brown said there are no plans to buy them, partly because the businesses are likely too small to qualify for FEMA funds.
Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi