The downtown square on the east side of downtown Raleigh has finally reopened after years of planning and construction. The square went through multiple iterations of various plans with a wide stakeholder group but we’re finally here.
The former square design consisted of many paths and pockets to hang out where the new design has fewer but wider paths for strolling. Seating is plentiful along low walls and there’s no reason not to lay out on the grass.
On the edges, you’ll notice short barrier walls that encourage visitors to use the paths as a way to protect the roots of the old oak trees. There are lots of newly planted shrubs that will look great after a few years when they’ve matured a bit.
In addition to a community table and child play area, the plaza has a splash pad and outdoor seating. With the kiosk nearby, this will be the square’s hub of activity. Square Burger has set up shop in the kiosk and is serving burgers, fries, and shakes.
I expect the square to be quite busy when the fresh Fall weather hits downtown.
Demolition is taking place on the western half of the site named Bloc 83. By the time you read this, the site along the southern side of the 600 block of Hillsborough Street may already be cleared out.
This is the second-half development that will pair up with the already open One Glenwood. For a refresher of what is to come here, jump back to this November 2018 post about the development named Two Hillsborough.
I’m certainly missing the Esso Gas Station that stood at the corner and had one of my favorite bars, Dram and Draught. However, I’m happy to see new urban-style development that should be a part of the Raleigh of the future which makes transit-use more feasible and even brings about even more retail and restaurant space.
Dram and Draught has moved into One Glenwood and should re-open soon.
Finally, for nostalgia’s sake, I’ve got a snap of the Esso Gas Station in 2015 after it was renovated but before the bar set up shop in it.
The buildings are starting to come down to make way for The Willard hotel. Located at the corner of Glenwood Avenue and Willard Place, the brick buildings formerly used as office space and the surface parking lot will have a new hotel in the future.
At one point, the planners suggested condos on the upper floors but it’s been awhile since so it’ll be great to get an update on the plans. The lots are zoned for a maximum of 7 stories.
First to be used in the country (yes, that’s right) the new Molok trash containers are being installed at the corner of Wilmington and Hargett Streets.
Each partially-underground container holds the equivalent of 20 trash bins of waste. This reduces the need to make as frequent pickups, currently at twice a day, and could potentially remove the trash bins that clutter the sidewalks near this intersection.
Nearby restaurants, and pedestrians, can just dump their trash directly instead of using the roll-out carts. Emptying a trash bin only takes minutes so in under 20 minutes, the six containers should be emptied.
The old Capital Boulevard bridge over Peace Street has now been removed.
Torn apart and dismantled during the night throughout the last few weeks, the bridge that was close to reaching its end-of-life and has stood up over Peace for over 50 years is no more.
The “square-loop” traffic pattern is more and more coming into place around the new bridge, which already has traffic flowing in both directions. With the northbound exit to Peace now open, the next major connection should be the new Peace to Capital on-ramp (and Cotton Mill entrance) road.
I’m really hoping to see this project wrap up this year as was planned.
FNB Tower has now topped out and the glass siding is about 3/4 the way up the new Fayetteville Street tower. As the street presence gets cleaned up, I can’t help but look forward to seeing the construction fencing come down and the return of the plaza space between One City Plaza and FNB Tower.
Also, I hope to hear about new ground-floor retail announcements.
The space next door to Poole’s is being worked on. This is the spot for another one of Ashley Christensen’s restaurants, Poolside Pie. The timing of this post was on purpose as Christensen just won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef in the country this year. She’s the only chef in the state to win it.