Top 10 Empty Spaces To Fill Around Downtown

The discussion of retail space along sidewalks in downtown is not new. When designing a building, you could argue for or against including this in our current state of things. When the Wachovia and BB&T towers were built, only a single retail space was included. RBC Plaza is now open with three spaces on the ground floor. This increasing trend is great for downtown but rather then continuing to build new we should also focus on the empty spaces out there already that need a solid tenant. Here is a list of empty spaces around downtown that I think are critical spots for a shop or restaurant to set up in with #1 being the most important.

NOTE: These are places that are currently empty with no news of a potential tenant to the best of my knowledge.

#10 Progress Energy II

Iatria Spa closed down in the space on Davie St. and it does not look like anyone is jumping at the opportunity. Close proximity to Fayetteville St. and Moore Square are key selling points at this location.

#9 Wilmington and Martin St.

Honestly, I have no idea what has ever been in this building. RBC Plaza’s opening could help generate more foot traffic and make it more appealing.

#8 Music Hall

The music hall above Martin St. Pizza is empty. This is a large space and could have the potential for something unique like a bar/restaurant with live music.

#7 The Atrium

This space was under renovation all throughout 2007 but has now been sitting empty. The 100 block of Fayetteville St. may be the quietest one so something new here will help the overall street activity. The parking deck across the street is a big plus.

#6 The Raleigh Sandwich Shop

As the Hargett St. momentum continues to grow, led by Empire Properties, Wilmington St. will start getting some love. The Raleigh Sandwich shop just looks like a place that needs a smart developer to come in and renovate. Lots of potential here.

#5 Odd Fellows

The Waraji deal seemed to die out and now the large space sits empty. A successful restaurant here would extend the Hargett St. activity even more.

#4 Commerce Place

Moving out of the core downtown and into the warehouse district, we move to Commerce Place. The building is only partially filled but there is a key spot on Martin St. that could use some love. The warehouse district has so much potential and spaces like this can really hold something very original.

#3 Boylan Pearce Building

That white wall has been there for years and offers nothing to anyone that walks by. The 200 block of Fayetteville has a lot of activity compared to the rest of the street and this is a solid location that no one has jumped on yet.

#2 The Depot

While Jibarra is currently set to open up here, the rest of the building sits empty. This historic building has the luxury of having surface parking right in front. If traffic could flow through the warehouses a little better I think this place would be full in two seconds.

#1 City Market

The granddaddy of them all, City Market is one of downtown’s more significant, historical buildings. This huge space has been empty for years and really creates a hole in the middle of the city market block, making it feel desolate and slow. I think the building needs a huge landmark Raleigh restaurant or used as a seller’s venue, kind of like Market St. in Charleston.

What is interesting to note about this list is that nothing is mentioned in Glenwood South. Hats off Glenwood.

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  1. Since Cooper’s has sold to the Edison (so I hear), it’d be great to see them pop up in one of the older of these spaces. I can’t really envision a Cooper’s in a big shiny new modern building.

  2. Very nice list!!! I hope that Entry #9 gets some attention and the original vision for a 20-25 story residential tower is delivered. This would create retail opportunities for the future all over that area.

  3. does anyone know if there are any great incentives to open a business downtown? i would love to get a space to start something, but wasnt inspired to do so until i saw this. i know durham has some perks for the creative class…anyone know anything about raleigh?

  4. Tear down #4, #6, #7, #8 and #9, especially #9 (waste of space – this building is ugly – build a 50 story building).

    This must be a Empire property, no vision

  5. Great Post, Leo!
    I’m surprised you have no listings on Hillsborough Street though…the downtown portion has quite a few blank spots. (Including that yellow brick warehouse at the West Morgan Street split.) Most of them small though, so I guess they aren’t as notable as your big Ten.
    As for Glenwood though, their luck isn’t all perfect…I read today on NewRaleigh that The George is closing.

    danielito! – First place I’d contact would be the Downtown Raleigh Alliance. Recruiting new business and helping it thrive are one of their purposes for existing, so I would think they could help you. Also the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce may know of local small business incentives.

  6. I considered spots on Hillsborough St. and around the government district but I think that empty spots around activity centers (glenwood south, Fayetteville St.) make more of an impact then empty places in “slower” areas. Thinking little of car use, a pedestrian has many options if Fayetteville St. had shops/restaurants right next to each other from one end to the other. It is more of a “burden” if there are some places on Fayetteville, some on Hillsborough, some on West St., well you get my point.

    You could definitely make an argument for the other side however; a really successful place could pump new life into Hillsborough St. I still think that we should fill the “centers” and work outwards.

  7. Thank you so much RaleighRob! This is exactly the type of info I need. I appreciate your help so much!

  8. #9 was Jimmie’s — it was a grocery store in downtown Raleigh for many years.
    #3 — I believe the Fletcher Foundation owns that property (or they used to) and they are wanting to sell the entire building rather than upfit and lease it. I have been in the building several times and it has enormous potential (only issue — not enough windows).

  9. Today’s News and Observer reported about #1 on your list. This was also reported over a month ago in the N&O. All the renovations to City Market have begun AND we are opening up a 7500 square foot special events facility for weddings, corporate events, social functions and more in 3/4 of the old Greenshield’s building. the new facility will be called Cobblestone Hall.
    If you click on my name in this post you will see the new website for the new facility.
    we have already had 15 brides contact us for 2008 events and we expect to host between 100-200 events a year in the new special events space.
    We are very excited to be part of the quickly evolving, renovating, and growing downtown landscape. It is going to be very exciting to see the downtown explode right before our eyes with all the new buildings, residential buildings, parking structures, retail and restaurants and of course the new convention center and hotels. Great things for our city.

  10. For space number 1 I’d just like to add that I am one of those brides schedule to hold my wedding at cobblestone! Thanks for all your hard work!

  11. Cobblestone Hall will be great for the groups that rent the space, but the public at large will not benefit. Hopefully the restaurant section of the building will be open soon for everyone’s use.

  12. Iatria was too early to the downtown party, which is sad. They were a unique to downtonw buisness that would have benefitted significantly from the convention center’s guests. Not sure what else would “fit” in there.

    9 was Jimmy’s City Market. They redid their floors, added a grill, and then closed. A church met there for a few months, but I don’t know what happened to it. As for it being empty now, who wants to fill that space when the owner could tear it down and put a tower there as soon as the credit markets improve? It would make a good events space in the meantime, if there wasn’t another one going in down Martin Street.

    7 will be an expansion of Fayetville Street Tavern. 6 Raleigh Sandwich Shop was gutted by a fire in the late 90s and hasn’t been touched since. It will take a lot of work to restore, and may have some kind of historic protection, but I’m not sure.

    5 is empty because it was being upfit for Waraji. Other restaurants aren’t going to make plans to go into a space they thought was going to be occupied. 4 has seen a string of tenants, including various galleries. I think they’re holding out for an office tenant. Hue’s tenants will bring more residnets to the area, but will also bring its own retail space.

    2 The Depot is *not* empty. Ess is still there, and Jibarra is coming. The rest of the space was made toxic by someone who didn’t know how to run a bar, let alone three — an ok sports bar, a bad country bar, and a worse dance club.

    The old market/furniture building has been held hostage by an absentee owner who is finally putting some money into the place. They were painting the outside walls of Subway and its neighbors on Monday.

  13. The idea is to make downtown liveable, right? Yay…we have a ton of restaurants and clubs. How about a grocery store or a drug store? Seriously, why not?

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