That's the question that's been on the minds of a few thousand Raleigh residents since the middle of last week, when word began to spread that Kings—the epicenter of the Raleigh music scene—would be ending its seven-year run downtown in April.
The South McDowell Street space will be demolished to serve as a staging area for Wake County's planned construction of a parking deck and seven-story retail and office space. The parking deck will be used, in part, to handle traffic for the City of Raleigh's new 500,000-square foot convention center (opening in 2008) across the street.
Bobby Lewis, co-founder of Raleigh Development Co., owns the Kings space and agreed to allow the city to demolish the space. Lewis says he was planning to demolish the building in the future. This is an opportunity, he says, to let the county pay the bill.
Kings sits near the middle of the 400 block of South McDowell Street, midway between Cabarrus Street to the south and Davie Street to the north. Wake County will erect a nine-story, 989-car parking deck approximately 40 feet from the block's northwest corner, at the intersection of Davie and McDowell streets. A developer will build a seven-story, 124,000-square-foot, mixed-used space in front of the deck. Three buildings will be demolished for the construction. Of the three buildings to be demolished, only the Kings space will not be home to one of the county's new structures.
"Since we're building to the property line, we need some space to be able to accomplish the construction," says Phil Stout, director of facilities for Wake County. "This will be a temporary construction easement for staging materials and vehicles."
Stout says it would have been possible to build the parking deck and the mixed-use space without demolishing Kings. Tearing down the building now, though, will save the project $20,000. Otherwise, that money would have been used to protect the Kings property from damage during construction.
According to Kings co-owner Paul Siler, the Kings staff was certain they'd be in their current space until the convention center opened, even though they've been renting on a monthly basis from Lewis since last March. Otherwise, they would have been looking for a new space.
"It would be more satisfying if we had just gotten tired of it or weren't making enough money," says Siler. "But it's kind of annoying not to be given a choice and just told, 'OK, the building is coming down in April.'"
Siler says he hopes to find a new space within the year. He wants to stay downtown, but he's not sure the changing real estate market will allow that. Lewis says he regrets the end of Kings on South McDowell Street, nut he's excited about a bigger building on the same property.
"I'm going to build something much larger on that space's footprint," Lewis says, adding that he hopes to build a multi-level, mixed-use space not long after the convention center is open. "Those guys [at Kings] had a good seven-year run in that building. It's just time for something else."