The city of Fayetteville has experienced significant growth over the last 15 years. In 2004, Fayetteville’s western city limit was extended to the Hoke County line. This so-called “Big Bang” annexation included 28 square miles and 43,000 people. The city’s population exploded overnight to more than 200,000. The North Carolina Department of Commerce estimated Fayetteville’s 2015 population at just more than 208,000.
In 2000, the U.S. Army Airborne & Special Operations Museum was opened on what used to be the 500 block of Hay Street. It served as a catalyst for the revitalization of downtown Fayetteville. Business and local government began investing in the inner city as never before. In 2007, a new City Hall and adjoining police headquarters opened in the 400 block of Hay Street.
Fayetteville City Council believes the time has come to consider replacing City Hall and the police administration building. City Hall is directly across the street from the former Prince Charles Hotel, which is being renovated into 60 apartments.
The police station is across from the baseball stadium, which is now under construction. That makes both properties valuable areas for retail development, which is one of the reasons officials say it is time to make a move.
It’s been less than 12 years since City Hall was built, but it’s already overcrowded. Three years ago, the city spent more than $1 million renovating the third floor for executive offices. Public parking is at a premium. During their annual planning retreat, council members decided the city should develop a centralized government campus.
That’s an idea Cumberland County Commissioners conceived 30 years ago when they purchased the former Coca-Cola bottling plant property on Ramsey Street. Since then, county social services and public health office buildings have been consolidated on the site. “We’ve got staff all over the city in various locations,” Councilman Bill Crisp said during the retreat.
City departments occupy the Festival Park Plaza building as well as buildings on Lamon and Alexander Streets.
Officials believe a five- or six-story structure is needed to house municipal offices that should be consolidated in City Hall.
But just where should the city relocate its offices? It may be that this project justifies a consultant’s study.
There isn’t a lot of available property in the downtown area. East Person Street has potential as does the southern end of Murchison Road. Revitalization of Murchison Road between Fayetteville State University and the new Grove Street bridges has been given priority emphasis by the city.
There are a lot of unanswered questions for continuation of economic development of the city center. And, as City Councilman Jim Arp noted, that’s the point of all that is underway now between the railroad tracks on Hay Street. Already, planned projects budgeted at more than $100 million are underway. The potential availability of unoccupied property where city government buildings now stand would pave the way for future business expansion.