Could the UNC System headquarters be moved from Chapel Hill to downtown Raleigh?
A provision in the Senate budget bill calls for a study on the future of the downtown state government complex, focusing primarily on the largest buildings — and, some would say, the ugliest — near the legislature that include Dobbs, Albemarle, Administration, Bath and Department of Public Instruction. The study would look at “potential remodeling expenditures and the use of leasing alternatives to more effectively renovate and remodel state-owned property.”
And it would consider “available options for consolidating the facilities of the Department of Commerce, the University of North Carolina System Office, the Community Colleges System Office and the Department of Public Instruction into a single location.”
Three of those departments are headquartered in separate buildings within a few blocks of each other. But the UNC System Office is located just outside the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill.
The budget includes money for planning the UNC move: $11.4 million in 2022-2023.
The budget also includes $2.45 million for renovating the legislative complex, including “cisterns, steam usage, water reuse, and conservation updates to common bathrooms,” the budget says.
The Senate wants to use $8 million in federal money to make broadband and IT improvements at the legislature and to improve “the functionality of committee rooms.”
And there’s a $100,000 allocation to study moving the Office of State Auditor into the recently renovated Albemarle Building, which is currently home to the Department of Insurance. The auditor’s office is currently in an aging building at the corner of Salisbury and Morgan streets.
If the idea of a state government building overhaul sounds familiar, it was initially proposed by then-Gov. Pat McCrory, who envisioned a mixed-use government complex with some buildings leased out to private businesses.
McCrory called it “Project Phoenix,” but Gov. Roy Cooper didn’t continue the initiative.
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