How North Carolina’s budget would transform the downtown government complex
Two new buildings housing state employees from different agencies and other government offices, including the governor’s staff, would be built in downtown Raleigh as part of the budget North Carolina lawmakers approved. Friday.
The spending plan, which was sent to Gov. Roy Cooper after passing the House and Senate by non-veto majorities, allocates more than $250 million for a building ‘executive headquarters of state government housing workers and an “educational complex” that would provide office space for the UNC and Community College systems, as well as the Departments of Commerce and Public Instruction.
At the same time, the budget would require the demolition of two longstanding government buildings near the General Assembly: the Administration Building at 116 W. Jones St. and the Bath Building at 306 N. Wilmington St.
“Some of the buildings are just at the point where they need substantial investment to fit them out,” said Rep. Donny Lambeth, a Forsyth County Republican who is also a top chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
Lambeth said talks of renovating aging government buildings with leaky ceilings and insufficient space have been going on for years. He said The impetus for building a new educational complex to house multiple government offices and agencies was the push during last year’s budget negotiations to move the UNC system’s headquarters from Chapel Hill to Raleigh.
“At some point you’ll either have to invest in this or come up with a more effective plan,” Lambeth said.
New Offices for Governor’s Staff
If passed, the budget would allocate $88 million to the Department of Administration, working with the Office of Legislative Services, to plan and build the new facility.
The building would also include a chamber for the Council of State, made up of the highest officials of the state executive, to hold its meetings.
Lambeth said the exact location of the new facility has not been determined. The budget, however, directs that officials “must use all or part” of four different parcels of land located on North Wilmington and East Edenton streets.
Once the plans are finalized, the construction of the new building must begin no later than July 1, 2023.
Construction of a school complex in the city center
A much larger portion of the allocated funds — just over $168 million — is earmarked for officials to plan and build the new downtown education complex.
The budget allocates $3.5 million to the Department of Administration to be used for relocation costs as it moves all of its staff and operations out of the administration building. The building must be emptied no later than July 1, 2023 and demolished no later than October 31, 2023.
The spending plan also states that the General Assembly “shall initiate and have final authority over all activity related to the planning and construction” of the complex.
Officials would also receive $15 million to renovate the building currently used by the Department of Public Instruction, at 301 N. Wilmington St.
Other Changes to Government Buildings
The budget provides the following allocations for other changes to the current layout of government buildings:
▪ $7 million is allocated to demolish the Bath Building.
▪ $5 million is allocated to renovate the former revenue building.
▪ $1.5 million is provided for moving costs to move Office of the State Auditor staff from the old Revenue Building to the Albemarle Building.
DMV and former Rex Hospital buildings for sale
In addition to the transformation of the downtown government complex, the budget directs the Department of Administration to sell the longtime headquarters of the NC Motor Vehicle Division at 1100 New Bern Ave., as well as the building at 700 Wade Ave. which was once used by Rex Hospital.
The DMV began moving its main offices to Rocky Mount in 2020, after state officials said asbestos and fire safety issues at the southeast Raleigh site were too big to fix. , The News & Observer previously reported. With the building’s future uncertain, residents and local authorities hoped to see a developer come in to repair the building, or tear it down and build something new.
Officials are tasked with selling the buildings at fair market value, while the money recovered from the sales would go back to the downtown government complex reserve.
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This story was originally published July 1, 2022 2:05 p.m.