Wake County

A $165 million government complex in Raleigh? One candidate for mayor says no way.

A front of a campaign flier from Raleigh mayoral candidate Charles Francis.
A front of a campaign flier from Raleigh mayoral candidate Charles Francis. hgargan@newsobserver.com

A campaign flier from a challenger in next month’s mayoral election criticizes incumbent Mayor Nancy McFarlane for supporting a plan to build a $165 million city government complex.

The flier from candidate Charles Francis suggests the money could be better spent on the city’s affordable housing programs.

“There are 165 million reasons NOT to build a new City Hall,” the flier reads. “Charles Francis says those funds should be used to preserve affordable housing and increase access to housing for working and middle-class families.”

Francis, McFarlane and candidate Paul Fitts will face off in the Oct. 10 election, when voters will also choose seven City Council members.

In response to the criticism, McFarlane said city employees would be more productive and save Raleigh money if they all worked on the same downtown campus. City Hall is a 35-year-old building on Hargett Street, and city workers are now spread over several properties.

Some council members have said a new campus should include commercial office space and storefronts the city could offer for lease. McFarlane has also suggested including a day care on site for employees’ children.

Raleigh has hired the design firm responsible for the One World Trade Center in Manhattan, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, to design the new complex. Construction could begin in the next five to seven years.

The project would likely be funded through borrowing and selling some existing government buildings.

Francis, a Democrat who works as an attorney, has been critical of McFarlane, an unaffiliated voter running for her fourth two-year term as mayor. Republican Paul Fitts is also running.

“We need to have a new set of priorities,” Francis said earlier this month. “I am not in favor of building a Taj Mahal City Hall when we have all these pressing concerns.”

Gargan: 919-829-4807; @hgargan