Say Hello To The 500 Block of Fayetteville St.

This past weekend, there was a small section of sidewalk that was not blocked by the white and orange barriers on Fayetteville St. I’m not sure if that means that the sidewalk is officially open but no one stopped me from walking over and roaming around the 500 block of the street. We all know that this block is only half done as the parking deck across from the Marriott Hotel is under construction, which will then be followed by Charter Square but that is still at least a year away. Here is what to expect in the near future.

Obviously with the parking deck construction, this block is pretty one sided and is dominated by the new Marriot Hotel. There are three elements to the sidewalk; two food shops and the hotel lobby roundabout. The smaller space is occupied by a Starbucks and by the looks of it, it is pretty much ready to go. The much larger space is going to be a restaurant, named Posta, which runs almost the complete length of the hotel. Pedestrians have one access directly into Starbucks or another to the lobby and into Posta. Car access to the roundabout is by Fayetteville St. only. It appears that there is a very wide pedestrian access to Salisbury, and the convention center, between the hotel and BB&T.

Wide pedestrian walkway to the convention center. It also looks like it will be very well lit.

Lots of outdoor seating on this block

Below is the much talked about sidewalk parking deck entrance. This sits across the street from the hotel, on the corner of Lenoir and Fayetteville St. The entrance is covered and provides one elevator and one staircase to the parking below ground. For added convenience, there is also a parking pay station inside.

The streetlights are ready so as soon as Lenoir St. is converted to two-way mode, the hotel will be fully up and running. I’m still curious to know if traffic will flow through the future City Plaza while it is under construction. My instinct says ‘no’ and we will have to wait until Sept. 2009 until Fayetteville St. is drivable from one end to the other.

Sidewalk fountain?

Two-way Conversion of Lenoir and South St.

Approved back in September of 2007, the two-way conversion of Lenoir and South streets is another bullet point on the long list of changes that surround the new Raleigh Convention Center. The entire street will not be converted; just a couple blocks around the downtown core. Lenoir will be a two-way street from South Saunders to Wilmington and South will get the same treatment between Dawson and Wilmington. See it on a map.

This is no surprise that these changes are for visitors to easily navigate to and from the new convention center and Marriott hotel. The three major southern downtown entrances are covered with South Saunders, McDowell, and Wilmington streets having two-way access to Lenoir. Dawson St. is a major thoroughfare for visitors coming from the north on Capital BLVD.

New streetlights are up around the convention center on Lenoir St.

Marriott Hotel Opening in July

The Marriott hotel’s website says that it will be opening in July. This is approximately one month before the convention center is set to open during Raleigh Wide Open III. I think it is safe to assume that Fayetteville St. will be finished if they plan to open next month. Cars will need access to the round lobby driveway on the newer section of Fayetteville St. The parking deck underneath will also need to be finished and access to it is on Lenoir St. so construction there will have to be completed. This works out well because the hotel will have some time to get things up and running before the first convention even starts.

I am very much interested to see what will end up in the “coffee shop” and “restaurant” space on Fayetteville St. according to this floor plan.

The circle driveway

Wide Fayetteville St. sidewalks will look the same

Anxiously waiting for Salisbury St. to open up

City Plaza Will Not Be Ready For Convention Center Opening

I sent off a couple e-mails about the current state of the City Plaza project. I thought it was a no-brainer that getting this plaza done at the same time as the opening of the Raleigh Convention Center and Marriot Hotel was important. The response I got was not so pleasant.

Thanks for your inquiry. In the City Plaza, we are completing the negotiation of the easement with the owners of the Bank of America building – this should get us ready for a full funding, design approval and authorization to proceed at the last Council meeting in March or the first of April, Which completes construction in May of 2009. I have enclosed a rendering. Thanks

Daniel T. Douglas AICP
Division Manager
Raleigh Urban Design Center & Communications Group
Department of City Planning

By the way, the attached rendering has already been posted on the city’s website. Here are more for your viewing pleasure.

The convention center and hotel will be open September of this year. It looks like we’ll have a nice construction site in the middle of Fayetteville St. for eight months after this. Before you start getting all upset like I did, you may need to think consider some other factors.

The perfect scenario would have been for the plaza to be ready for all the new visitors, and current residents, to see and enjoy. It can be argued that first impressions are important and getting this thing done on time should have been something to fight for. But honestly, this is only eight months and we have booked some conventions through 2020. Fayetteville St. is not the only district downtown. There are plenty of other areas that will be ready to serve visitors in the mean time. It is also important to note that this is out of the city’s hands as the owners of One Hannover (BoA building) are the major player in this little project.

It is unfortunate that we have to wait even longer to do a drive or walk from one end of Fayetteville St. to the other. I would have preferred it to be ready for the September opening, but if eight more months is needed then I’ll deal with it.