Stats From The State of Downtown Raleigh 2017, Residents

Residential figures from the State of Downtown Raleigh 2017

Taking a look at more stats from the 2017 State of Downtown Raleigh report, there are a few that cover the residential trends in the area. The graphic above offers some highlights including:

My take on it is that downtown residential is still in high demand and supply is trying to meet it. There are more units on the way which will help meet that demand and bring more residents to the core. The report states that rents are down 3% compared to 2016 so maybe supply is keeping up to a degree.

Residential figures from the State of Downtown Raleigh 2017

Predictions on when we cross 10,000 residents?

The chart above projects 11,000 residents by 2022. By then, we’ll have the Capital Boulevard bridge work completed and parts of Smokey Hollow finished. If those projects are very successful, more may follow in that area adding to the resident count around 2022.

Residential figures from the State of Downtown Raleigh 2017

The population breakdown by district shows much the same as past years. Glenwood South is the leading home for downtown residents. Recently, Moore Square has had a big infusion of residents with Skyhouse, The Edison, and The Lincoln openings.

I imagine that will continue to be the case between these two areas as the others have less land available for residential. The warehouse district will see an uptick with The Dillon so perhaps this area could have a surge soon.

8,200 residents is still very small compared to the city’s 440,000. We’re talking about 2% of the population. However, in addition to residential projects, the commercial, convention, government, and everything else taking place makes a big impact on the health of our city from a tax point of view.

The revenue generated from downtown projects generate a lot more than those taking place in the suburbs. A dense development needs less stuff from the city; less pipes, less connections, less roads. We therefore get a lot back from it so I like showing this graphic below that a healthy downtown means that the whole city benefits.

Tax figures from the State of Downtown Raleigh 2017

The Rosengarten Greenway and Connecting Downtown to Dix

The Rocky Branch Greenway in Dorothea Dix Park.

The Rocky Branch Greenway in Dorothea Dix Park.

Plans are underway for the Rosengarten Greenway, a path starting from West Cabarrus Street and ending at the Rocky Branch Greenway on South Saunders Street. While neighbors in Boylan Heights and Rosengarten Park work with the city on a final plan, a walk along the potential route got me thinking about some kind of connection from downtown to the future Dix Park.

We’ll get to the Rosengarten Park greenway soon but the topic of connecting downtown Raleigh to Dix Park is laced in opinions. Of course, you are about to get one more but that’s why you come to this blog now isn’t it? 😉

I say it a lot and I’ll repeat it numerous times but debates on walking and biking routes hold very little without actually walking the areas first. Driving is of course the easiest way to get back and forth but a tight-knit urban fabric between Dix and downtown could be a huge boost to living and working here.

At this time, I’m not convinced that walking back and forth is for the casual but rather for the dedicated with time on their hands. I’m not saying it’s necessarily difficult but it’s just far enough to not be convenient and the elevation change makes it feel further than it is on a map.

For sake of argument, I’m going to define the entrance to Dix Park as the “intersection” of Western Boulevard and Boylan Avenue. For this blog post, that is the destination we’ll take a look at. Keep in mind, once you are there, you still need to hoof it up the hills into the park itself to whatever future spot you want to get to.

Without diving into the details, it’s about a 15-20 minute walk from anywhere in the Warehouse District to the entrance. We’re talking 25-30 minutes a little further out, say the Capitol building or Glenwood South. In my book, that puts the walk to Dix in the recreation category of my time. Runners might make it a frequent part of their day though.

Walking routes from NC Capitol to Dix Park entrance

Walking routes from NC Capitol to Dix Park entrance. It’s about 30 minutes from the Capitol to the entrance of Dix Park.

That’s no problem for residents but I don’t see visitors to downtown, staying in the hotels for a visit whether it be for a convention or family event, taking a casual walk out there. I’m not sure it’s enough to justify any special walking paths anyway.

It’s also not very flat.

To the south of downtown is the Rocky Branch creek. Parts of downtown slope downward towards it, dropping almost 80 or 90 feet in elevation. You’ll feel those hills on a warm day.

I’ll leave the walking piece of this to the small group of dedicated peds. It’s the cycling route I’m interested in. With a Bike Share system coming next year, cycling out to Dix would be a great to-do when staying in downtown. Cycling would be much more pleasant compared to that previously mentioned walk and drops the time down to 10 minutes on average.

The Rosengarten Greenway

The Rosengarten Greenway likes to be thrown in to the conversation of connecting downtown to Dix. You can dive into the project on the city’s website.

Rosengarten Alley, June 2017.

Rosengarten Alley, June 2017.

Starting at Cabarrus Street at Rosengarten Alley, the goal is to connect a greenway to the current Rocky Branch trail. (which is south of Western Boulevard) In the past, (2009ish) a more lofty plan existed but with new developments taking place since then the path has been modified some. Below is what we have from the past plan and the latest from the city’s website.

Downtown West Gateway Comprehensive Plan Chapter - City of Raleigh

Downtown West Gateway Comprehensive Plan Chapter – City of Raleigh

Rosengarten Greenway plan, 2017

Rosengarten Greenway plan, 2017. Originally in gray, I’ve colored it orange so it can be followed easier. Click for larger, full path map.

The latest plan is a little piecemeal, sending greenway riders on a lot of sidewalks rather than dedicated paths. When I walked the proposed route, it was pretty scenic with an overgrown stream going north/south into and then just turned into regular sidewalks.

Whatever “controversy” there is around this path, I can’t see it. It seems like a normal, everyday path to me.

It feels like standard operating procedure here from the city. If there’s an opportunity to put a greenway along a stream, then they will plan it. I think people are getting a little to hung up on the downtown to Dix connection and this greenway is getting thrown into the mix when it really shouldn’t.

The downtown to Dix connection has to be on the streets.

Bike to Dix

Dix presents a perfect use case for bike share. Steering riders easily between downtown and the park could create a nice downtown to-do for anyone in town.

[For an update on Raleigh Bike Share, hear episode 19 of Inbound Raleigh, a podcast about transit and transportation in Raleigh.]

From Glenwood South and parts of Hillsborough Street, the route is mostly obvious. (the Boylan Avenue downhill speed run)

The two-way conversion of Lenoir and South Street makes it easy from eastern downtown.

It’s the warehouse district that is tricky because of the separation around the tracks at the depot. This is where, I feel, the West Street connection was right-on with creating critical connections in the southwest side of town.

Mentioned in this 2013 post, there were plans to tunnel West Street underneath the tracks in the depot and connect the street to itself.

I haven’t seen plans for the tunnel in 2017 but I do see West Street being a pretty great street for connecting the Rosengarten Park area to the north. While the tracks are active, I imagine it possible for an at-grade railroad crossing for pedestrians and bicycles. Proper fencing and safety gates would be needed to divert bike/ped traffic from around Union Station to West Street south of the tracks.

This would be much cheaper than the tunnel option and examples of this exist in other cities. It would take coordination between the city and the state to get this done. Here’s a rough idea of what it could look like on a map.

The view from West Street just calls to be connected. Imagine riding a bike back from Dix and be greeted with this view.

South West Street, June 2017.

South West Street, June 2017. The Dillon could greet riders and pedestrians here as they come back from Dix.

Southwest downtown Raleigh is becoming a blend of neighborhood mixed-use with retail and residential. Vehicle traffic is slow and vehicle counts are low that the street space can be used for other modes of travel than a car. I’d really like to see rental bikes zipping through that area in the years to come.

Stats From The State of Downtown Raleigh 2017, Employment

This one I look for every year. I’m interested to see how the makeup of downtown office workers are changing, if at all.

For decades (centuries?), downtown Raleigh has been a government town. In the 2015 report, government workers made up more than half of the downtown workforce. In the 2016 report, the needle moved below 50%.

However, the recent report uses 2014 numbers to show a share of 42%. The graphics are shown above.

The change seems to be a bit dramatic year-to-year but the difference in sources may play a factor. Growth in STEM seems to be the hot selling point these days and the report plays right into Raleigh’s growth in those areas.

A Walk Around The GoRaleigh Station

Email readers: This blog post has a virtual reality image. Read the post on the blog to see it.

Bus at the GoRaleigh Station

After a year of construction work, the bus station at Moore Square, renamed to GoRaleigh Station, is now fully up and running with a new look and new amenities. Having had the same basic layout and services since the 1980s, the station upgrade is very much welcomed.

With the ribbon cut a few weeks ago, it was time I walked it and snapped some photos for the blog.

The station can be entered from all different directions but for me, I consider the entrance on Wilmington Street to the be the front door. Here, you can typically hear classical music and on this particular walk, I was greeted with the sounds of tango with Por una Cabeza.

Wilmington Street entrance to the GoRaleigh Station

Wilmington Street entrance to the GoRaleigh Station

The walkway leading into the heart of the station has changed a bit with an outdoor plaza, covered in string lights, at the base of a brand new elevator shaft and airy stairwell. This replaces the former stairwell and elevator that was situated on the eastern portion of the Moore Square parking deck, having been removed during this project.

Below is a surround shot of the plaza and walkways into and out of the station. The outdoor seating of the nearby restaurant St. Roch Fine Oysters + Bar is here as well.

Going into the station, we can see the brand new amenities in an updated office/kiosk as well as bathrooms. TV screens are plentiful and informative all throughout with route information and estimated time of arrivals.

Kiosk at the GoRaleigh Station

Bathrooms at the GoRaleigh Station

To the left and right are the various wait stations for all the routes. The ones underneath the parking deck are obviously covered but the ones outside have brand new shelters that help block wind, rain, and provide shade.

There are no longer any shelters along the road exiting on Blount Street and buses are coming and going from Hargett and Martin. This is a change from before where buses would only enter on Martin and exit on Hargett so I imagine that helps with route planning.

GoRaleigh Station

GoRaleigh Station

GoRaleigh Station

GoRaleigh Station

GoRaleigh Station

A big difference has been the feel and presence the station used to have along Hargett Street. The brick entrance gateway thing has been removed and with the new shelters and roadway, the entrance feels much more open.

With the new design, you can see the buses approaching and they can see you. This makes “negotiating” your way across the sidewalk on Hargett easier as before, it was always possible that a bus might jump in front of you at the last second.

GoRaleigh Station

GoRaleigh Station

Heading back inside, I passed back in front of the kiosk towards Wilmington Street. Wilmington and Fayetteville Streets feel so accessible with the station providing a direct shot back and forth.

GoRaleigh Station

GoRaleigh Station

Congrats to the team behind this project. I enjoy walking through the station, even if I’m not a bus rider, and hope that the people it serves are enjoying it as well. As transit in Raleigh expands over the next ten years, the station seems to be set up to handle that growth.

Stats From The State of Downtown Raleigh 2017, Developments

Released in April, I’ve finally gotten around to diving into the 2017 State of Downtown Raleigh report for the latest figures and fancy graphs of downtown activity. I’ll spread these out over the next few weeks and share what I think are some of the more interesting and thought-provoking stats.

I’ll start things off with the development list. This includes all under construction, recently completed, and planned developments. Development fans should keep this one close by for reference.

Of course, you can jump into the whole report here.

2017 State of Downtown Raleigh

Pic of the Week

View from the Boylan Avenue Bridge, May 2017.

View from the Boylan Avenue Bridge, May 2017.

With The Dillon starting to creep higher, it’s time to check in on the view from the Boylan Avenue Bridge. Click above for a larger, high-res panorama from the bridge taken this Memorial Day weekend.

Things to note:

The Rooftop Park That Never Came To Be

Vicissitudes of the Oak City is a series taking a look at past development plans in downtown Raleigh that left behind details we can still see today. The things we plan don’t always turn out the way we thought they would and each story results from some external factor that changed things for the better or worse.

The Blount Street Parking Deck

Blount Street Parking deck, Blount Street side

This is the first in a new series I’m creating called Vicissitudes of the Oak City. Rather than a traditional history lesson, I want to write about past plans for downtown Raleigh that faced a sudden change, for the positive or negative. What I enjoy about these is that we can see evidence of the changes all around us yet we may never even notice them.

For the inaugural post, I want to highlight a detail that we can see on The Edison block, something I’ve been staring at for years.

The development of what has been called The Edison has been going back for almost ten years now. This block, currently consisting of the Skyhouse Apartments and Edison Lofts, had plans for much larger and grander buildings but the great recession of 2008 changed everything.

With permission, I’m posting a rendering of The Edison as it was seen through the eyes of 2007.

2007 Rendering of The Edison, Raleigh NC. JDavis Architects.

2007 Rendering of The Edison, Raleigh NC. JDavis Architects. Click for larger.

With a pair of 40+ story towers and two 20+ story towers, downtown Raleigh in 2007 was certainly exciting for development fans. The towers never came but the parking deck was completed. (shown in between the towers of the rendering above)

While talks of The Edison were taking place, a nearby tower was close to opening. The RBC Plaza, now PNC Plaza, opened in 2008 and the Blount Street parking deck, located on The Edison block, was used as additional parking for the office space in PNC.

If you stare up at the parking deck, the stairwells along Wilmington and Blount Street contain an extra floor.

A floor to nowhere.

You can see it on the Blount Street side, photo above, and the Wilmington Street side, photo below.

The Blount Street Parking Deck

Blount Street Parking deck, Wilmington Street side

The stairwells were built that way for a rooftop park that was never built. As part of the original Edison plans, an “amenity level” was planned for the top of the parking deck allowing patrons from the towers as well as the public to use the open space.

You can see it in this zoomed in, annotated portion of the original Edison rendering.

2007 Rendering of The Edison, Raleigh NC. JDavis Architects.

As mentioned earlier, the great recession changed everything and housing as it is today is not the same as it was before then. This lead the team behind it, as well as all other downtown Raleigh projects, to rethink development.

Could a rooftop park ever be built on top of that parking deck one day? I don’t see why not but there are no plans for that at this time.

I can’t help but think that the deck has potential, sitting there in some unfinished state. Economics may never get us there and with a nearby Dix park planned, green space is probably not hurting for downtown.

I still can’t help but get lost in thinking about something so unique for downtown Raleigh like a rooftop park with skyscraper glass views in almost all directions.

While the Blount Street Parking deck is still accessible to the public today* (7am-7pm) I encourage anyone to take the elevator to the top floor and imagine stepping out to trees, gardens, and people rather than sleeping vehicles baking in the sun.

*According to current plans, once The Edison office tower is open (no outlook at this time), planned for the corner of Wilmington and Martin Streets, the public parking spaces will be allocated to support that tower and the deck will be for private use 24/7.

Pic of the Week

Rendering of 510 Glenwood

Rendering of 510 Glenwood

Work has already begun on some exterior renovations to the ground-floor facade of 510 Glenwood. Less columns and a more defined outdoor seating space seems to the be at the core of the plans. The original design made the entrance ways darker and less inviting, in my opinion, and I bet the new design hopes to remedy this with a more open approach.

510 Glenwood, May 2017

510 Glenwood, May 2017

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