Downtown Raleigh 2010 In Review

The Middle City by dtraleigh, on Flickr

Was 2010 good for you too? This was actually a pretty productive year from a planning point of view. There were a few major projects being planned that we all should follow over the next few years where it will really start to get interesting. From the street though, changes to downtown Raleigh in 2010 were small, but the details count too. First, let’s start off by re-visiting the 2010 wishlist posted a year ago and see how we did. The wishlist is made up of things that could only happen in a year’s time. That list consisted of:

  • A bookstore
  • Raleigh Wide Open 5 on Hillsborough Street
  • Bus shelters
  • More jobs
  • Specialized retail

No bookstores have opened this year which will probably keep this on the wishlist. There were some good comments in this post about your third place where people were in support of a bookstore in the downtown core. No doubt, opening a bookstore in this digital age would be tough but it’s not impossible. The case for one will only get stronger once more residents move here.

Raleigh Wide Open 5 did its thing this year but in my opinion, the Hillsborough Street’s renovation was something larger to celebrate during a year where downtown had little major projects finishing up. Either way, Hillsborough Street got its own party so no one was left out.

Bus shelters are sprouting up around the city, some in downtown too. Certain R-Line stops are getting shelters, showing the city’s commitment to this key service. A big THANK YOU goes out for this one!

More jobs? Honestly, to cover this topic, we could commit an entire post to this but I won’t. Office space did not increase in 2010 so I can’t imagine there were any major jumps in the amount of workers. The number of shops and restaurants though may tell the real story, and so can headlines. From the Triangle Business Journal:

The retail scene is still fragile in downtown. In 2010, the staple White Rabbit, closed its doors after 22 years of doing business here. It’s sad to see them go. On an up note, however, Raleigh Denim moved their shop to and created a store on West Martin Street. Raleigh Denim has received some national and local attention and is an immensely unique thing for downtown Raleigh. Glenwood South saw some changes but is still level from where it is was a year ago with places like Runway and Ripple City adding something different to the handful of art galleries on the strip.

2010 Highlights

The most talked about news topic in 2010 around Raleigh has to be the Wake County School board drama. This blog does not cover that so we will NOT get into it. Downtown connoisseurs such as yourselves were all talking about public safety buildings and fast trains.

The Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center was a hot topic in 2010. On the table was a 17-story $210+ million building to house a bunch of public safety departments across the street from Nash Square next to city hall. The decision was right down the middle and construction hasn’t started. Currently, the project seems to be on the shelf and an unstable economy will probably keep it there. Revisit the Public Safety Center articles on RalCon.

The study for the Southeast High Speed Rail project is chugging along and this year, there were lots of talks about how these trains would come through downtown. The tricky part was that in order to accommodate these trains, streets could not cross the tracks; they had to be closed. North Carolina received lots of stimulus money for trains this year but the decision has to be made where to put them, and groups were arguing over the best path for the high speed trains as they come into town from the north. Revisit the high speed train articles on RalCon.

There was a lot going on this year, really there was. There was a lot of planning going on and I’m hoping the next steps are in place to get these great ideas going in order to enhance the city and our way of life. Let’s run through some more events that happened this year:

Crowd @ Hopscotch 2010
Crowd @ Hopscotch 2010 by OldKing, on Flickr

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  1. Great post, Leo. Interested in seeing how the Lightner building plays out. I’ve enjoyed watching the new county justice building and the Nature Research go up. Of course, the new CAM is on the top of my list, too.

  2. Downtown Raleigh better get there heads out of the behinds or Durham will be getting all the tech companies moving to American Tobacco (I have been there many times, it’s nice, but not that impressive).

    Downtown Raleigh needs a developer to start yesterday on a hip/cool whatever you want to call it, technology hub complex in the heart of downtown. Wake up downtown Raleigh, your not attracting any start-ups.

    Need a complex with space to lease for start-ups, mature companies, retail space, flexible conference rooms, restaurants and 40-50 story towers. Retail on ground level and second floor with wide open space for start-ups that has unique open spaces.

    What takes this city so long to “Get It”

    Downtown Durham is hole, but they are kicking the Capital Cites butt at the moment.

  3. @Jerry: Amen to that! Regarding Red Hat – I assume that is the company you use as the basis for your comments – I would not pay as much attention to Local Tech Wire, as they represent Capitol Broadcasting, the company associated with ATC… The latter simply doesn’t have enough available space and I doubt very seriously they can lure Red Hat. To me, Red Hat’s best choice will be The Edison, or One Glenwood. Beyond that, North Hills could be a candidate, although very unlikely.

    Now, if Durham attracts Red Hat, then it will be merely the return of the company to its roots; that is where they were before moving to Raleigh. Better Durham than anywhere outside North Carolina, although DT Raleigh should be the hands-down winner. Let’s hope that Red Hat was “fishing” for incentives and that they will choose DT Raleigh instead.

  4. Jerry, One Glenwood is a 39-story mixed-use tower, envisioned for the Eastern half of the block bounded by Hillsborough Str, Glenwood Ave, Morgan Str and Boylan Ave. Originally envisioned as a residential high-rise around 20 stories, it was upgraded to a taller structure, with 64 condos and 200,000sf of office space (a parking deck included). It looks very similar to the New York Times building, at least the top part.

    The developers behind this project are solid, so we cannot really call it a pie-in-the-sky. Renderings and info were leaked, but the architectural firm pulled the link (it is still there, they just removed it from their slideshow). I hope they get moving before the Union Station plan goes to effect. That would limit the heights, even of buildings along Hillsborough Street – whoever came up with those height restrictions needs to be kicked out of Raleigh, in my opinion, or at least banned for life from DT Raleigh.

  5. Ernest,
    Where can we see a rendering of “One Glenwood”?

    Thanks for the info, sounds like a building long overdue in downtown and more developers of this caliber are needed.
    Agree, there should be NO height restrictions and that person should be removed from any decision making and booted out of Raleigh (someone who has NO vision what-so-ever)

  6. Jerry, I am sorry, but I was asked not to share any renderings, by the firm that actually designed them :( However, there is an animation I can share with you. First, go to the following URL:

    Click on 02 (under Portfolio), and then click on the little box (titled ANIMATION) to the lower left of the image. The animation is a bit old (judging from the fact they used an old rendering of RBC Plaza) and not as detailed as the renderings, but nevertheless it will give you some idea of what One Glenwood looks like in its most recent incarnation.

  7. In response to Jerry et al re: startups in Raleigh, this is a great read.

    “For the price of a football stadium, any town that was decent to live in could make itself one of the biggest startup hubs in the world.”

    I can’t think of another city that has more potential than Raleigh. Many will think this is somewhat aggressive- but you really have to ask, why not? We’ve certainly spent a lot more money on a lot more questionable things.

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