Cary, N.C. — The Town of Cary is hiring a designer with a world-class resume to draw up plans for the new sports complex and community center slated to be part of South Hills Mall’s redevelopment. The designer’s portfolio includes Olympic venues and stadiums that hosted Super Bowls and the World Cup.
WRAL News first reported in March that the town is teaming up with the new owner of South Hills Mall to improve the complex.
On Wednesday, WRAL News got a first look at designs for The Center.
The town selected global design firm Populous and Raleigh-based Davis-Kane to draw up plans for the complex. Their first designs show a modern glass complex with courts that could host tournaments for several indoor sports or convert into a 4,000 seat e-sports arena.
“They are big thinkers, and that’s what we are looking for,” says Doug McRainey, director of the Town of Cary Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources.
The facility features sweeping spaces for people to hang out or workout.
“If there’s one area of need in the town, it is having modern community center facilities, and so it’ll achieve that,” says McRainey.
However, some citizens question the price tag that comes with the world-class designs. The project was estimated to cost around $200 million when it was approved in 2020 – and that was before inflation and construction costs soared.
“Who’s funding it?” asked Mike Williams, who lives in Cary.
Cary taxpayers will likely answer that question with a bond referendum, which is likely to be on the ballot in 2024 or 2025, according to the town.
Raleigh and Wake County already approved $35 million in funding for the complex from hospitality tax money.
“I think it’s a difficult time to be doing stuff like this. A lot of people are hurting money- wise,” said Williams.
However, Chris Uhlig, another Cary citizen, disagrees, saying, “I think it pays for itself over time in terms of bringing additional business to the area.”
Jose Vasquez, who lives in Cary, says the building is unlike anything he’d seen, even during his time living in New York. “The Town of Cary needs something like this,” he said. “So put it up.”
The design work will really get going this summer, and the town says there will be plenty of opportunity for the public to weigh in. The goal is to get The Center open by 2027 or 2028.