While our attention is on Black Wall Street Plaza — and its uses, public or private — we wondered what was the point of the large gray, screened boxes in that green space. You know, the ones with the decorative cardinals peeping over the edge.
If you guessed a Duke Energy electrical switchgear cabinet then you get free power for a year! (Offer not valid in the U.S.)
The utility applied to the city to place these transformers in the plaza in 2010 as part of the Downtown Reliability Enhancement Project. Additional transformers are at a second site in a parking lot at 315 Holland Street, near the Durham Hotel.
The cabinets in the plaza are 45 1/2 inches high. Each one takes up 37.78 square feet, according to documents filed with city. The entire project area is 108 square feet, about 1 percent of the total area of the plaza.
Duke Energy paid a $1,010 fee to place the switchgear cabinets in the city-owned plaza. However, an official with the General Services department, which maintains the park, said the city doesn't receive an additional money, such as rent, for the space the cabinets consume.
Time Warner also has a utility box in the plaza, on the east side of Luna and near the sidewalk along Main Street.