Weekend Reel: Downtown Plan

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Downtown Plan on YouTube

In the quick video above, Raleigh Planning Director Mitchell Silver introduces the ongoing Downtown Plan and why the city is undertaking this effort.

In the next video, we have the presentation given by Mr. Silver and the design firm, Sasaki Associates, at the Downtown Plan Kick-Off meeting that took place back in February of this year.

Raleigh Downtown Plan Kick-Off on YouTube

Make sure to keep an eye out for the next public meeting on April 2.

Downtown Plan – City of Raleigh

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  1. I still don’t understand all the animosity toward Charlotte. This rivalry was joked about twice during the Plan Kick-Off video. Raleigh could learn a LOT from looking at all that is going on in Charlotte, which is so far ahead of where Raleigh is. Uptown Charlotte is exploding in development with several high-rise apartment/condo towers, the new Charlotte Knights stadium, Romare Bearden park, Lynx light rail expansion, street car construction, more and more restaurants and shopping. The list goes on and on and on. Amazing development continues to follow the Lynx South Blvd. I wonder just how many of these people have ever actually been to Charlotte.

  2. The Charlotte vs. Raleigh debate is really old. However, don’t think that Raleigh is the one responsible for it. Personally, I find Uptown Charlotte’s rebirth refreshing and inspiring, but there was a time when I recall people from Charlotte talking about Raleigh as if it was the sprawling capital of the Carolinas, instead of looking at their own city.

    Now, pointing at Raleigh as if it is a sprawling Hell shows ignorance, given the fact that Raleigh is [still] denser and has slightly more residents within a two-mile radius from its core than Charlotte – Charlotte has more residents within its downtown proper. If Raleigh is a sprawling Hell, what is Charlotte then?

    Personally, I urge Raleigh’s leaders to learn from Charlotte’s strengths. In the past, we duplicated the Queen City’s weaknesses, but we have a chance to fix that. Charlotte has become a leader in many areas where Raleigh still has a way to go. A better cooperation between the two cities will be more beneficial. Learning from each other is good, but working together is better.

  3. In today’s TBJ there is a article on the groundbreaking of Charter Square . It says that the cost has increased from 54 million to 63 million $ . Maybe it’s because of the 12 th floor. So good to hear this news !
    Dwight Nipper

  4. I think they are saying that Charlotte has a sterile, Disneylandish downtown that they don’t want to emulate. Folks from Charlotte always take everything personally when people aren’t impressed with the place, which is a bit odd.

  5. I see what ^Dan is saying… I’ve only really wandered thru Charlotte for one day, but it was SO ‘perfect’ (read: yuppie) that I just couldn’t get into it. BEAUTIFUL city, don’t get me wrong- great buildings, wonderful layout, some really cool museums. But… everything costs so g.d. much! Art museum entry; Charlotte -$10, Raleigh -FREE. Science Museum entry; Charlotte -$8, Raliegh -FREE. Etc, etc, etc. I wouldn’t mind if Raleigh looked like Charlotte in a few years- tall, towering buildings, beautiful architecture, people walking around everywhere, street cars/rail… Just keep it a lil grungy, it adds character.

  6. I have been to Charlotte a few times,and wonder why I’m still in Raleigh.Raleigh can learn a thing or two from Charlotte,But then Raleigh has character of it’s own.I like Raleigh and it needs better Transit plus a few more tall high rises. Not trying to be like Charlotte,But enough to Make Raleigh a much more exciting place to be.

  7. I have been to Charlotte only once just as others that have commented have, and the one thing I got from it was that downtown made it feel like a much bigger city to me. I understand it does take a lot of capitol and I’m sure some pull with the right people to get taller buildings in a denser area, and that that kind of change doesn’t happen in a few short years. I also even find myself walking around downtown Raleigh wondering what buildings we could do with tearing down to make a space for these skyscrapers, as some of them have that charm and character that a smaller city allows. I am however not very excited about getting 7-10 story buildings close to or in downtown proper. To me this is going to come back in maybe 10 years to bite us in the butt. At that time I believe we will want to build bigger and taller but have these basically brand new buildings that cost so much to put up that whoever owns them wouldn’t want to sell them cheap enough to justify tearing them down for a larger building. I know these are all tough decisions and there are voices on both sides with great arguments for and against, but they must be made and we must always be thinking about current residents, while also looking to the future of the city and its expansion. I personally hope the foresight on development and expansion is concentrated up and not out, because for me building smaller buildings around the area makes it just that, an area, and not a city.

    Jake Anthony:
    Saying that in Charlotte “everything costs so g.d. much” and then following it up by comparing minimal museum rates to “free” museums in Raleigh is no argument at all. I would gladly (and usually expect to) pay $8-$10 to walk through a good museum, especially if that means they don’t have to take tax payers money to fund it. To this point I got nothing from your expense argument and am left to believe that the etc, etc, etc is just talking about other museums or tourist attractions like them. I was very interested to see what (real) examples you had about expenses but was sadly left questioning what argument you were actually trying to make.

  8. …brother relax.. plenty of things to do that cost little to nothing. Didn’t think I needed to write a tour guide for you. First Fridays include many free activities. ArtSplosure. Pullen Park. CAM is $5 entry, but most times I’ve been in they let me wander for free. All the local shopping (not big brand stores, but small businesses that don’t cost a fortune and have a ton of cool stuff like Father n Sons, Deco, Buddha’s Belly, the countless record shops, ETC.) I agree with you that Charlotte has a “bigger” feel to it, but it’s so bland, so yuppie, so boring. Tall buildings are not what make a city interesting. I do agree with you that I’d love to see some taller buildings being put up but look at Portland- tall buildings? Nope, not really. But the city is full of such interesting things and people that there’s a whole show based off it’s weirdness. Another example I like to use is Richmond- no, not really that interesting of a city, and the buildings aren’t quite that tall, but there are enough of them packed into a dense area that when you see the city in your horizon when driving north, it has the appearance of a big place. End all, be all: I would love taller buildings in Raleigh but do not think that is all we need to build a more interesting, inviting city. Things like Hopscotch, First Fridays, alllllll the free public parks and museums, hell now we have the Bluegrass Festival- that is what makes Raleigh so inviting.

  9. Jake, I was more so trying to be constructively critical and offer a viewpoint for you to consider for the argument. Personally I just don’t know anything about Charlotte except what I saw the one time I was there, so I guess I was just looking for more insight. The point I was trying to make was that instead of that insight I just got ‘I don’t like paying for museums because they’re free in Raleigh’ from your post. I do have empathy for museums charging admission though as my dad is the CFO of a small museum that charges admission, but I do realize that being free appeals to local residents (including me) more. I’m really glad I got you to respond about my point on taller buildings though, because you made me realize what I was actually trying to say: density is more the key than height. Also, like you said, density can give you that bigger city feel in downtown proper even if the city itself isn’t that big. I definitely got that ‘yuppie’ feel when I was in Charlotte in that it’s more big business than local/small businesses that fill the street side shops. To this point I do think Raleigh is better off in keeping that local flavor and not selling out, of course I do see some room for name brand stores. I think that if there are a few big name shops around downtown, it could draw more people there that might usually go somewhere else for shopping. As long as it’s only a few of these stores sprinkled within the local small business shops, that could at least lead to more foot traffic around downtown, and hopefully that would lead to more people going into local establishments they might otherwise not even get close to.

  10. When you look at Charlotte, think of Seattle. When you look at Raleigh, think of Portland. No, I am not suggesting a comparison to the NW cities… They are ahead of us in everything, but one has the big city feel while the other puts more emphasis on the “little things” that emphasize urbanity.

    Both cities have great soccer fans, although I think the Portland Timbers fans create a more appealing atmosphere :)

  11. I absolutely agree a few “big name” stores would be hugely beneficial. I’ve heard some people saying they’d think a two story Apple store would be cool (yes, cool, but not really necessary). The rumors I’ve heard that downtown may be getting a Publix is nothing but good news to me (personally, a Harris Teeter would be better because it runs 24hrs, but I don’t know enough about Publix, maybe they would consider that too. Would just be awesome to have a 24hr grocery store right in Downtown!) but Publix? Fine! I’ll take it! As for “big name” stores- what would fit in best as of right now? An Apple store would be cool, just not sure how much business it’d get downtown that the Apple store at Crabtree doesn’t already cover. Designer stores would be sweet, if only to give us that “big city” feel, but I highly doubt Louis Vuitton or Michael Kors (Kores? no idea) would consider a store in dTown Raleigh. Honestly, I think the best way to make Raleigh even more unique and “city-ish” than it already is is to encourage more public art. Yes, I mean graffiti. I think if the city commissioned local street artists like Sean Kernick of Oak City Hustle to paint murals on some of our boring, blank spots (like parking decks), I think that’d give Raleigh a great, city-feel to it.

  12. When I First moved to Raleigh From New York, It remind me abit like Rochester,New York. Ok Im comparing the two, So what. Raleigh is starting to Come into it’s own Character as a City, But it Does need a Better transit System, Possibly late night Buses run Until 1:00 am. High Rises,you would have to attract Big name Compines to Downtown. Hotels, Yes You do need more Hotels at least 20 to 25 stories not 7 to 10. Raleigh need to have it own identity not from other Cities.

  13. Oh lawd I’m from Rochester please don’t say that – Rochester is a hole in the ground compared to Raleigh hahaha

  14. Jake Anthony, Raleigh is full of holes in the ground, if you haven’t noticed :LOL: Wherever I drive these days I hit potholes…

    My [useless] opinion is that if we EVER see Salisbury, Mc Dowell and Dawson streets being developed in an urban fashion, WITH high-rises along them, we can celebrate that Raleigh is on the right track. Until then, we can only cheer for the small things. Raleigh’s skyline should have looked twice as big, given the city’s population and status.

    Still love Raleigh :)

  15. The rivalry between Charlotte and Raleigh is friendly. Both cities have taken a keen interest in planning, and it shows as the two are routinely named ‘up and coming’ in some form or another. In some ways Charlotte has jumped forward with transit, sport teams, and sky scrapers, all very visible on a local and national scale. In Raleigh and the Triangle, schools, parks, housing, and jobs have kept the region one of the best places to live.

    Each city has its own vibe, and competition between the two will hopefully encourage even more attention to good planning. For Raleigh, I hope this means transit, infill along Capital Blvd north from downtown and Wilmington Street going south, and making Dix Park world class.

  16. Well said, CX :) Let me also add how nicely the rest of NC cities complement Charlotte and Raleigh. We live in a lovely state where there is something for [almost] everyone.

  17. Ernest, I agree! Having lived in 3 others states, I have a lot of pride for what NC offers.

  18. Raleigh does not need tall buildings or transit to have an exciting downtown. It needs interesting things to do and places to visit for folks who would not otherwise visit. Sporting events do draw lots of people when games are played and they tend to want to enjoy food/drinks before and after the games. I wish Raleigh had that. I also thinks it needs some unique art or architecture. Most state owned buildings are eye sores, with the old capitol being the exception. The one comment I heard at my company when folks were relocating was that Raleigh had so many trees. Build on what Raleigh is, don’t turn it into another cookie cutter city.

  19. Raleigh may not need Tall Buildings, But it is in Need of Mass Tranist, If you want to sit in Traffic Be my Guest,because it is Only going to get Worse.I was waiting for someone to say Who needs Transit, Really. So the ones that don’t own a Car don’t need Transit right.? those that don’t keep Banking hours don’t need transit, Or the Elderly, those that work rotating shifts. To John P, Have you ever ride the CAT Buses to get to work. I have. Granted it’s not the Best But it saves me on gas every Week,And if I want to go out with friends on a Saturday I ride the Buses. But Raleigh is in serious Need of Public Transit.Trust me, the traffic will get worse if it isn’t already.

  20. Mark, Yes. I have at times taken a CAT bus and TTA to get from North Raleigh to RTP. Aside from a 20 min wait between buses, it was not too bad. The bus had wifi and was comfortable. I will say the two lines could be more closely linked as far as accepting tickets, and I agree that Raleigh could get more serious about transit….i.e. decent bus stop shelters as a first step…..but honestly, until Raleigh, and this region in general has a higher population density, it won’t get much usage. Traffic here is not bad enough for folks to trade in the convenience of a car for mass transit. It would need to be much more painful than it is today….imho. Encourage infill projects, more sidewalks and better user experience on today’s system…..but you are right, traffic will get worse and those who cannot afford a car or choose not to use one do not have good options

  21. I think the 3rd world has been transit than Raleigh. Gotta keep the rubber to the road as the local necks say.

  22. Yeah I moved downtown last year and relied only on mass transit for around 9 months. Finally got my car recently because like John P said, traffic is just not bad enough to encourage transit usage. The wait and transfer times for the buses are really not worth it when you can hop in your car and be somewhere in half the time.

    I’m a huge advocate of public transportation but even I know Raleigh isn’t ready for a mature system yet. Maybe when these thousands of apartment units come online and increase the density in our more urban spots the demand will be there.

  23. Bad traffic wouldn’t really shift people to ride buses, because generally they are stuck in the same traffic as cars. Traffic could push people to ride a commuter rail line, or a light rail line if it has its own dedicated corridor.

    Without exclusive lanes, buses are always slower than driving. Even with exclusive lanes, they are still usually slower for end-to-end trips.

    Pretty much the only thing that pushes people to ride buses in significant numbers is the cost of driving. If it is expensive to own, operate, and/or park a car, then people will ride buses.

  24. Not to sound Mean John P it is just that You have the Elderly and Students or Handicap citizens that can not afford a Car and that their Option is Public Transit. Also for folks that Commute to Work Each day, To Extend the Hours of Bus Service to around Midnight.Also Shuttle Bus Service to RDU Airport from Downtown Raleigh. It is a Start at least. But I admit your right,until Downtown Raleigh reaches One million People,Transit may not be needed,But in some way it needs Improvement if and when City Population grows,and right now it is growing rather steady. But I Strongly recommend Extended Hours of City Bus Service, Not everybody owns a car plus you save gas each week,I have tried it and save a extra 20 dollars a week,50 dollars a month. Major Improvments needed on CAT Buses for now.

  25. There’s a lot of talk about transit as if it alone will somehow transform the city. I hate to tell you but it won’t. It’s not about ticking the boxes of what DT Raleigh is supposed to have from a menu. It’s about making good zoning and planning decisions. It’s about having a visionary city government that can make purposeful decisions to set goals and make policy in support of them. For example, it’s probably more important now for the city to rethink its parking requirements for some urban development and not stifle the sort of development that support a more self sustaining urban core. This will grow the city’s population, services and tax base without exponentially adding to the cars on the road.
    With RedHat growing and Citrix about to open DT while developers complete and initiate more housing, the city is beginning to realize the possibility of an urban core with less dependency on cars. While it’s important to for the city to plan by identifying and securing transit corridors now, it’s not a show stopper if rail doesn’t get built first.
    Frankly, rail DT isn’t going to do squat about the Triangle’s worst traffic problems because those exist from suburban location to suburban location.
    Let’s keep encouraging our urban development patterns to encourage less driving and more walking, biking and RLine-ing. Demand for rail will only come when those in the suburbs find it painful to drive into town and park. Until the suburbanites demand it, it won’t happen because there are many more of them then there are of us.

  26. We seem to forget that the Working Poor, the elderly and folks that do not own a Car rely on these Buses to get around town, they live in Raleigh to you know and have just as much of a voice in this matter as we do. Nobody here seems to want to address that,so I will. If light rail won’t come any time soon then at least increase the amount of Bus service to night time service to around Midnight and weekend service. Or have a Shuttle Service to RDU to Downtown Raleigh. Raleigh is not Atlanta but we can have rail service as well, just start off small and progress as the City grows in population, otherwise Raleigh will fall behind and we will really see gridlock is ways we can only imagine.

  27. Just as I expected, Now the City is Planning or Going to raise fares along the CAT Buses starting this year. Raleigh is Really Screwing the Poor in the Ass on this one. The working poor and the Eldery are already struggling as it is, and they need to afford to get around Town. As far as Im concern Raleigh isn’t Worth….*&^#$.

  28. wow, in the ass no less?! that sounds terrible. yeah, raleigh is just the worst city ever. most cities have free flying cars for the poor to take them all over town. maybe you should get to work on that.

  29. HHmmm…not bad. But Raleigh is so Behind is Good quaility mass transit. Doesn’t have to be like New York, Im just saying it needs much improvements. Bus Shelters…..late night service…etc.

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