This week, the North Carolina Football Club and Kane Realty proposed a huge development off Interstate 40 just south of Downtown Raleigh that would dramatically change the southern gateway into the city, and the region overall.
If approved, and we’re a long ways from that, it would create a new cluster of high rises in an area that is currently dominated by empty fields and small businesses.
We break down some facts and frequently asked questions for the project being called Downtown South.
Q: Where is the proposed stadium site?
A: The group has eyes on 55 acres around Penmarc Drive off South Saunders Street. It’s an opportunity zone, a new feature in the country’s tax code that allows developers to earn savings on capital gains by investing in economically disadvantaged area.
Q: How large would the stadium be?
A: Initial plans call for 20,000 seats — big enough to support a Major League Soccer team, but the developers say their proposal doesn’t rely on a pro team moving in. That said, NC Football Club owner Steve Malik has two teams ready to move in and has not shied away from vocalizing his hopes for a professional team here: the men’s pro soccer team, North Carolina FC, and women’s pro team, North Carolina Courage. Both teams now play at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary.
With competition from cities like Charlotte, Sacramento and St. Louis for an MLS team, Malik has said it also could be a home for concerts, festivals and other large-scale events.
Q: What else does the project include?
A: The developers have plans for almost $2 billion in private investment, which they say would produce 1.6 million square feet of office space; 1,200 hotel rooms; 1,750 apartments; and 125,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.
Q: How much will it cost to build the stadium?
A: An estimated $180 million.
Q: How much of that would come from taxpayer money?
A: The developers are asking for $13 million a year for 20 to 25 years — a total of up to $325 million — for debt service and operating costs.
Q: Will the stadium project affect my tax bill?
A: Not directly at first. The developers are asking for money generated by the Wake County tax on hotel rooms and prepared meals, which brought in about $55 million in fiscal year 2018. But the developers have told the city this will cause property values in that part of town to increase, plus there will be more demand for government services there.
Q: Is that money available?
A: There’s competition, including from the Raleigh Convention Center and PNC Arena. Downtown South is not among the projects recommended for funding on an initial list prepared by Raleigh and Wake County officials.
Q: How long would it take to build all of that? What is the timeline?
A: If work started in 2020, the stadium could open in 2023, the developers say, along with some portion of the larger development. But the whole shebang? That, they say, could take a generation.
Q: Can you imagine what that would do to commuter traffic?
A: Well, let’s say there would be a lot.
Q: Why would the project benefit Raleigh?
A: The developers estimate that over the next 15 years, Downtown South could generate $2.7 billion in economic activity; 5,900 new jobs; $20 million in property tax revenue; and $3.7 million a year in tourism-related tax revenue. That’s according to a report by local consulting firm Economic Leadership LLC.
Q: What’s the downside?
A: Well, we mentioned the traffic possibilities. But there’s also the flip side to rising property values — gentrification and the possibility that people and businesses that are there now will be priced out of the neighborhood.
Q: Who is behind the project?
A: Malik is an entrepreneur who bought the Carolina Railhawks in 2015 and transformed it into the NC Football Club. He later bought the Western New York Flash women’s team and brought the team to North Carolina in 2017 where they became the NC Courage. The NC Courage won the National Women’s Soccer League championship in 2018. Several players currently are playing in the World Cup with the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, by the way.
Kane is CEO of Kane Realty Corporation, which is behind some of Raleigh’s largest developments, including North Hills in North Raleigh and The Dillon in downtown Raleigh’s Warehouse District. Kane Realty also is behind several hotel, residential and mixed-use projects in the area.
Q: What is the next step for the stadium project?
A: Developers hope Wake County commissioners and the Raleigh City Council could vote on funding later this summer. But that date isn’t certain. If local leaders decide to label the stadium as a “medium” project, then there may be another proposal process that could go on for an undetermined amount of time.
Q: Where can I find more information?
A: There’s a website with details at visitdowntownsouth.com.
Stories about proposed soccer stadium