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Downtown Raleigh will be celebrating this weekend.

The $15 million City Plaza on Fayetteville Street will be opened at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at noon Friday. The next day, residents can see the new public gathering place first-hand during the 4th annual Raleigh Wide Open Celebration.

“People can see the new City Plaza, including the light towers and public art, because so much has changed over the past year,” Mayor Charles Meeker said.

The opening of the plaza is a victory for city planners. The nearly 3-year-old project had been dogged by a disagreement over public art and then a land dispute in which the city threatened to condemn and seize investors’ property. Those disputes kept the plaza from opening alongside the new convention center last October.

But Raleigh residents will soon be able to enjoy what city offiicals hope will be a “public living room,” hosting concerts and other public events. Sculptures by North Carolina artists and glass retail pavillions will be surrounded by 50-foot light towers and motion-sensing fountains.

Three businesses will open on Friday – the Collectors Gallery, Shishkabob and Krispy Kreme. Jimmy John’s, the first business to commit to the plaza, will be opening later.

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