The State of City Market

The recent news of Cobblestone Hall coming to City Market has created lots of discussion. Currently, the empty historic building really brings down the energy of the area. The only exception is during events and festivals that drive massive crowds here on select weekends but for most of the year, a few established businesses keep it somewhat alive. There is not a healthy amount of foot traffic considering how many retail spaces there are in this small area.

I’ve always thought that City Market is so random. The businesses here, while being in close proximity, do not mesh well with each other. At any given point on any day, almost half are closed because of the radically different hours between them. It is not their fault though it is just the nature of that business; I’m not sure I would ever want to look at segways at midnight after having a couple drinks at Woody’s or listen to piano cover songs at Rum Runners after having breakfast at Big Ed’s.

Now I’m not saying that this atmosphere and mix of retail is a bad thing; it’s just an observation. The real question is do we want City Market to stay the course of having destination places or should it be made into a district where people come for restaurants or bars or shopping or whatever?


Big Ed’s is great but the hours are horrible, adding to the emptiness.


Lots of retail spaces.


If turned into a district, sidewalks could be flush with the street; all pedestrians and no cars allowed. This is possible now with the new parking deck across Blount St.


Is the parking lot still needed? This could be a site for future development, perhaps a City Market “expansion”.

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7 Comments

  1. Regarding your comments on Big Ed’s: AMEN TO THAT!!! The hours are so inconvenient for me and my family that we no longer go there, especially now that my wife is working on Saturday mornings. What a shame, because Big Ed’s is a great venue.

    As for the City Market area, it is a gem and should be preserved as best as we can preserve it. Very organic and truly attractive. That parking lot between Martin, Blount and Blake streets needs to be replaced by a nice urban infill. Personally, I would love to see a couple of mid-rises and/or a nice collection of 4-5 story brownstones, similar to the ones we find in NYC and Boston. Historic looking and elegant. I heard something about the air rights above that parking being sold, but that was a long time ago, and I am not sure the purchase went through.

  2. Great article.
    To your ending question…I am not sure yet. I guess it remains to be seen if the new decks nearby and other new development bring in the pedestrians to City Market. That said, there appears to be a small parking area at the Wolfe & Blount intersection…perhaps getting rid of that and having retail/food kiosks, park benches and picnic tables would be a good idea there. Give it a small-park setting. Just a thought.

    I’ve always thought that since Glenwood South & Warehouse District seem to attract mostly food & entertainment that City Market could do well focusing more on arts & shopping. They already seem to be the best place for that downtown (though Seaboard is notable for some retail, too). The problem is that while the restaurants and bars there stay open later (except unfortunately for Big Eds), the shops & galleries do not, except for First Friday. If they did it at least every Friday and/or Saturday night, I think it could be a very good thing. They have the layout to make pedestrian-oriented “window shopping” work…but not the hours for it. And yeah, a few more interesting retail slots could help.

  3. In regards to that parking lot that is on the same block as City Market, the city has a potential plan for residential space there.

    Here’s the link to the City of Raleigh’s Moore Square District Redevelopment Map

    As you can see, the south section of the parking lot has a proposal for a two-story mixed-use residential and retail building. The central part of the parking lot seems to have a possible chance of residential being put in with still maintaining some of the parking lot’s existence, but nothing has been proposed yet.

    I think it’d be smart if they just completely got rid of that lot entirely and either put in a good residential community with ground-level retail (like Palladium Plaza), or expand City Market. Sadly though, its hard to replicate that historic feel the place has, even if its on the same block.

    And in regards to them converting this into Cobblestone Hall: an event center… I’m not particularly joyous over it.

    The moment I saw this building years ago, my mind could only think “Dean and Deluca”. Although downtown isn’t quite at the point to have a super high-end grocery story, I’ve always felt that that space would’ve been perfect for a medium-sized Dean and Deluca.

    We’ll hope for a near future for that! ^_^

  4. NC Scoop, that plan for City Market is way too old. It has been around for years and quite frankly I do not see it happening. This may actually be a good thing because I would hate to see prime real estate wasted on 2-4 story buildings. I would love to see a revised plan, showing a denser environment, with participation of developers and/or experts who actually understand the obstacles of developing urban communities in areas like City Market. Because of the latter’s transitional nature, the plan needs to take many variables in consideration… NIMBYs included in the list of obstacles.

  5. Looking at the overhead view of City Market I think the parking lot is essential. It fills up quick on the weekends and is mostly full on Wednesdays and Thursdays. I personally do not have a problem parking a bit farther away and walking. Listening to other people complain about parking in the downtown area however, leads me to believe that they should keep the lot.

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