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.


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The Durham stats are interesting compared to Raleigh given both cities density downtown. I know there is an office space shortage in Durham, last I looked they were at 97% capacity. I wonder with all the new construction going on there if those employees per acre numbers will go up dramatically in the next few years.

Speaking of Durham, has anyone ever seen an official dt boundary map for the city? I would be curious to see how their official boundary compares to Raleigh’s. I’d expect them to be somewhat similar in size given that the two cities used to be much closer in population than they are today. However, that doesn’t mean that the two cities consider it the definitions of downtown in the same way.

I’m not sure if there is one. I always thought it was everything west of Elizabeth st near Ponysaurus to the Duke East Campus, and from Central Park to the Durham Freeway (147).

Which would be about .8 square miles.

Here you go, page 11. More or less what I had in mind. https://durhamnc.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/1797

The Durham downtown definition probably should move to the NE enough to capture old Five Points (Corporation/Mangum intersection), so that the City Center is completely surrounded by edge downtown districts. I mean, in real life it is, but they should acknowledge real life in the planning arena. Mangum is already getting mid-density apartments filling in vacant lots to the NE and will feel downtown-ish pretty soon.

Today’ N& O has a good article on Raleigh’s MLS Bid !

@ Dwight: That is certainly good news to hear that right now we are in the top half of the 12 bids by default due to drop outs. And Charlotte’s issues help the Triangle even more. I don’t think we will be part of the 2018 expansion, but 2020 seems likely at this point give the history here. I just want to see the stadium proposal. A North Hills Stadium would be interesting, but I would rather have it down town. Kane is obviously the Master of North Hills, but with the Dillon and Smokey Hollow projects he is quickly becoming the go to guy in downtown as well.

^🤷🏼‍♂️🍻

haha.. I think every single blog Leo has posted… someone somehow puts in a comment regarding MLS. zzzzz

@NightHawk, I hear you but it is hard to argue that probably the single most transformational event in Downtown Raleigh’s potential growth is the addition of a sports stadium and Major League Soccer is by far the most likely in the near future. The economic impact generated by the ancillary development around the stadium would be beyond the convention center and Fayetteville Street’s makeover and that was around $2Billion in private development if i recall. Whether you like or don’t like soccer isn’t the point. The fact is that soccer is the most popular sport in the world….BY FAR…. and Raleigh’s international demographic makeup along with the largest youth soccer in the US make an MLS franchise and subsequent stadium the most likely 1st sports facility Raleigh will get Downtown anytime soon and we should ALL be supportive of that effort!!!

@uncle jesse – Yes all valid points and I agree. Although I’m sure it will never happen.. my fingers are still crossed for MLB 🙂

Uncle Jess (or anyone), what are you basing your assumptions on? Because the consensus among economists is that sports stadiums have little to no impact on economic development.
Here’s a study from Stanford: http://news.stanford.edu/2015/07/30/stadium-economics-noll-073015/

Here’s a story from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffreydorfman/2015/01/31/publicly-financed-sports-stadiums-are-a-game-that-taxpayers-lose/#2192b6034f07

Here’s the Daily Kos:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/2/20/1365048/-Sports-Stadiums-Have-No-Impact-on-Municipal-Economies-So-Why-is-it-We-Still-Subsidize-the-NFL

Academic, right-wing, left-wing, respectively. All agree. So please, let’s stop talking about the “economic impact” of a stadium.

@TheNightHawk your fingers are gonna hurt after a couple decades

Just look at all that development that took place after the arena was built in West Raleigh. Woops.

To be clear, a privately-funded stadium might be great for the city’s identity, and could, if done correctly, help establish a new neighborhood (the way Wrigley and Fenway have come to define their neighborhoods), so I’m definitely not opposed to having an MLS team, but the “ancillary economic benefit” myth drives me bonkers.

And, I am sincerely interested in any economic studies that corroborate the “stadiums generate economic benefits” argument.

What drives me bonkers is the reliance on these studies that suggest a binary “good or bad” economic impact of building a stadium–when EVERY SINGLE SITUATION IS UNIQUE! Look, I’m not disparaging the upfront research that goes into such a grand, ambitious project as building a stadium. But, it’s hard to dump every single stadium/arena project into one cohort, look at the dollar figures and job creation that resulted, and say, “this is probably a bad idea.” Every single city has a unique cultural appeal to certain sports, a unique geography, a unique socioeconomic makeup, a unique downtown area, a unique infrastructure, a unique population density in certain areas, etc. To say, “well, Sacramento built this thing, and what a boondoggle it is–we better not do that!” is not right thinking.

Now, I do think we should learn from the mistakes of others (ahem PNC), but I don’t think these studies should necessarily be the reason to do or not do it. If they’re done well (DBAP, Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Petco Park in San Diego, Target Field in Minneapolis) they can become anchors of surrounding development. If they’re built out in a corn field or off an interstate or next to a landfill where developers would otherwise have NO REASON to build restaurants/condos/offices, then they’ll likely fail. It’s not that hard.

I can only repeat what Mayor Nate Robertson of Fayetteville said in a interview on WRAL concerning building their new baseball stadium ! He said that this project is a no brainer because their consultation study shows that every city in America that has a minor league baseball stadium has been successful when it is located in downtown !

That argument would hold water if there were any examples of stadiums generating more investment than would have otherwise occurred. And as far as I can find, there aren’t any. I’m not disputing that arenas can shape development, but I am disputing that it actually creates development. And, again, this opinion is backed by economists across the ideological spectrum.

@Dwight,
Successful for the team or successful for the local economy? There’s a difference. A downtown stadium is probably a great deal for the team. Obviously attendance will be higher if it’s located near population centers (just look at the jump in Charlotte Knights attendance when they moved Uptown). The point is, studies show the vast majority of those people would already be spending money on entertainment. So, rather than generating more spending, it’s just moving spending from one kind of entertainment to another.

Steve , JMO , I think Mayor Robertson was referring to both ,city economics & team !

Will makes good points. There are say, the Durham Bulls with offices clustered all around the stadium, but them many many stadiums with nothing but absolute wasteland around them. In with the Bulls its hard to establish cause and effect…is Durham going to land those companies without the Bulls? Perhaps at best, a stadium focuses certain types of development…like say high rise stuff and forbes corporate names…

Goodness doing this on mobile = autocorrect errors..dangit.

@Steve, would you consider the DBAP as an example of a stadium generating more investment than would’ve otherwise occurred? I have to wonder if the American Tobacco district, DPAC, right/left field office buildings, and new huge developments across Mangum St. would be what they are today without the DBAP preceding them. Maybe they would get built? Who knows? But I have my doubts they would be there without the ballpark coming first.

Will, like Mark says, it’s hard for us to establish cause and effect with one specific example. I think the tight rental and office market downtown is what’s driving the new wave. I think without the stadium, ATHC still happens in some form, and those auto businesses still get redeveloped. However, one might make the case that as an amenity, DBAP makes it Durham a little more attractive than it would be otherwise.

Something to keep in mind, the development might not exist in that spot without the stadium, but it probably exists somewhere downtown regardless, again because of supply and demand.

I live in West Raleigh and there is finally a lot of development on the horizon. Some related to proximity to the sports stadiums. Downtown Raleigh is already a destination, though, so comparing it to the no-man’s land that was West Raleigh 10 years ago is moot.

In the latest article concerning a new soccer stadium I believe the two most popular options are downtown Raleigh and in John Kane’s recent additional land acquired near the six Forks area. I for one am for the downtown location… just my two cents. 🙂

If it goes in North Hills, it won’t be a game changer in any way for Raleigh. Downtown it will definitely be a big deal.

I think the debate is the economic impact of this stadium. I’m on the side that a stadium will compliment development rather than kickstart it. I am SO glad that it wasn’t put in downtown in the 90s. I just don’t think the development we see now would be here or it would be different. A stadium for DTR is more “the cherry on top” rather than “the foundation.” We still need a lot more before we can handle it.

Wherever the stadium goes, there needs to be substantial investment in transit by the city/county. Either light rail or maybe even separate dedicated roads for only buses (busway).

@Leo, Agreed. It would be another asset in our downtown experience, so to speak.

I don’t want to give the impression that I’m against it in any way (because Malik said he’s going to fund it, which I think deserves applause). If the city were going to pay for it, I’d be screaming bloody murder, tbh.

I personally hope it gets built within walking distance of DT proper, so we can expand the definition of “downtown”. People already have an overly restricted idea of its boundaries. And, even though I’ll probably never spend money on a soccer ticket, I think MLS would be great for the city.

@Mike, I completely agree with that. That’s why I hope it’s built near downtown where the new BRT is supposed to run.

I believe the land east of South Saunders and north of 440 coming into downtown would be best. Its been vacant for years and has such potential of a stadium with great views overlooking downtown

Me Too NightHawk !

Agreed. That’s actually the exact property I had in mind. The area between Lake Wheeler, Hammond, 40 and Western has enormous potential. With or without a stadium, I think a new “southside” downtown will develop there, but the stadium would help form its identity (and be a nice addition to the area).

May be a fine location, but would have to provide 100% new district amenities and services. 1.5 miles to downtown too far to use any parking or see any downtown restaurant/bar/retail uses. ~35+ min walk

The Planning Commission will meet next Thursday June 22 to discussed the rezoning request for 404 / 406 S. Dawson St. to 12 stories !

Does anyone know when the Wahlburger is supposed to open? I remember reading an article that said early 2017 in DT Raleigh, but I haven’t heard anything since then.

Great questions @Bryan. I was wondering that myself. The paper is still up on the windows.. but I haven’t seen any movement.

@Dwight-
From the Planning Commission’s notes on the rezoning application, it appears they may push Empire to consider a shorter zoning, such as DX-7.

@Matt …. my god, WHY?? If Empire WANTS TO and CAN build something taller there, WHY NOT?? So stupid. Hoping Empire doesn’t consider anything shorter and fights the city tooth and nail.

Me Too Jake , Me Too !

@Jake-
Without pulling up their analysis again, it had to do with blending or keeping the feel of a transition zone between the core of downtown and it’s periphery, in this case the typically low-rise historic warehouse district. Though they did note that the new Union Station probably lends to the necessitation of denser development in the area.

I’m not a fan of what tends to become the micromanaging of development by any municipality, but I personally think 7 to 8 stories is the perfect height for these parcels given its footprint and the adjacent buildings (which will likely be around for a few decades). Plus the parking load requirements will be pretty restrictive to the development. Cities don’t get tall in one swoop… Great for Raleigh’s growth though, either way.

The N&O is reporting the Sir Walter as now being under contract. The HUD contract there runs until 2020. After that, who knows, possibly a nice boutique hotel?

Steve and others, there was a planned commercial development down near the Red Roof Inn called Penmarc Village. IIRC it was going to look like that nice-ish but still suburban sort of development. I was torn in how I felt about it…it could spur more, better stuff down that way, but I was also hoping for urban-style stuff right off the bat. No dirt has turned since it was first proposed over a year ago so maybe it’ll get reworked in a more urban way.
The South is the key to downtown’s expansion, no doubt. There are some enormous obstacles like the MLK/Saunders interchange…sucks up a lot of land for essentially no benefit at all. Also several pre-existing non-connected chunks of development (Walnut Terrace, Lake Wheeler’s residential stuff by Dix et.al.) but there are swaths of opportunities down there…

[…] Stats From The State of Downtown Raleigh 2017, Employment (June 12, 2017, 45 Comments) […]

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