Checking in on Moore Square

The Moore Square kiosk under construction. December 2018.

The Moore Square kiosk under construction. December 2018.

As the weather cools down and the leaves start to fall, Moore Square becomes a little clearer to see between the trees and the fencing. I thought it would be a good time to take a walk around the square as we wait for it to reopen sometime early in the new year.

Three major things jump out at as you look around the square. There’s a huge lawn in the middle, the sidewalks are being greatly improved, and the cafe/restroom structure is starting to take shape.

The grass has been put down for the big lawn and the walking paths around it are being put together. The lawn has a slight slope to it which makes it great for laying around or possibly sitting for a small show if a stage is set up at the bottom. This may make the square feel much bigger than it was before.

The Moore Square lawn under construction. December 2018.

The sidewalks have been completely overhauled. The corners of the square are spacious with bulb-out sidewalks The angled-parking that used to be along Martin Street is now gone and the sidewalk is being poured over this, making this end of the square feel much larger. Bulb-outs also exist for some of the crosswalks which makes crossing the street much easier.

New sidewalks around Moore Square. December 2018.

New sidewalks around Moore Square. December 2018.

Through the fence, workers sit for lunch along the new wall seating. The former sidewalk remains as the new sidewalk waits to be poured. December 2018.

The cafe and restrooms are coming together and the faux-stone siding is starting to be installed. The architecture around this should be high-quality and already it looks great. From a distance, it looks like a gathering place that should draw people into the park.

Moore Square cafe being constructed. December 2018.

Moore Square cafe being constructed. December 2018.

It’s exciting to see the square come together and the timing seems good to have it open before Spring 2019. Fingers crossed!

Waiting For Moore Square’s Latest Makeover

Moore Square April 2017

Moore Square April 2017

While walking through Moore Square recently, I couldn’t help but feel that the square is primed and ready to go on its upcoming renovation. With the nearby GoRaleigh Transit Station renovation wrapping up, Moore Square’s number is coming up.

Indeed, the square is planned to start construction this Spring but the bus station needs to finish and be able to operate all the bus routes within rather than along the square’s Martin Street side. That should take place on May 1, according to GoRaleigh.

The acorn’s been moved and the bus station’s facilities are up and running. That makes it feel like we’re in the last few weeks of the current iteration of Moore Square.

Also, the city’s parks department has announced a new information center for Moore Square in the Norwood House located next to City Market on Martin Street. The house has seen businesses come and go over the years. There’s a great renovation story, with photos, from Maurer Architecture on the house:

Built around 1877 for Sheriff J.M. Norwood, this 1,600 sq ft historic renovation and relocation project utilized historic tax credits for commercial use. Located in downtown Raleigh near City Market, the Norwood House was home to the offices of Maurer Architecture from 1996 to 2008. This project received the Anthemion Award from Capital Area Preservation and the Sir Walter Award for Community Appearance.

*maurerarchitecture.com

Norwood House April 2017

Norwood House April 2017

Moore Square has so much going for it organically that it doesn’t need to act like an event space any more, something that I would argue was overdone here in the 2000s. The new design should enhance the spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment occurrences that can take place, an essence being in downtown.

You can see more about the project on the city’s website. The Moore Square makeover should be finished in Spring 2018.

Moore Square Redesign Chugs Along Towards Construction

Views across Moore Square from the northeast

Views across Moore Square from the northeast

It has certainly been quite a few years in the making but while the movement may be slow, it’s always forward on this project. The design around a new Moore Square should be at around 40% in March of this year with construction starting this summer.

In December of 2015, the 15% schematic design was presented to council and approval was given to start permitting and getting construction documents made. Screenshots in this post are from that 15% design with the full document available on the city’s website.

Views across Moore Square to the northeast

Views across Moore Square to the northeast

For those that are not aware, Moore Square falls into the State’s territory so they need to give the nod before Raleigh goes ahead with their plans. All seems positive as earlier this year the North Carolina Council of State approved a partnership with the city.

As part of Governor Pat McCrory’s “Project Phoenix” initiative, the North Carolina Council of State has approved a partnership with the City of Raleigh to improve Moore Square in downtown Raleigh. While the State of North Carolina owns the property, the City of Raleigh is responsible for its upkeep. In recent years, the park has been in need of improvements, and today’s vote will start the process for that to happen.

*Improvements to Raleigh’s Moore Square Approved as Part of Governor McCrory’s Project Phoenix Initiative

We should also see strong commitment from our council on getting this project done as it was a major work item from their latest retreat.

Current plan

Current plan. Click for larger.

Even with much discussion, discussion against in my opinion, the presence of the kiosk and restrooms are still shown here in the square designs. (which this blogger supports) The location has changed slightly and the new building incorporates both amenities in a smaller footprint versus the former plan.

Expect the new Moore Square to open in Summer/Fall 2017. Will Moore Square continue to house the giant acorn? That is yet to be determined.

Municipography, Outdoor Seating, Wilmington Street Hotel, Moore Square, and Stone’s Warehouse

Municipography is a summary of current issues going through the Raleigh City Council and other municipal departments in the city. The point is to try to deliver any video, photos, and text associated with the discussions happening at City Hall or elsewhere. Since this is a downtown Raleigh blog, the focus is on the center of the city.

I recommend email readers click through to the website to see the embedded video.

I need to think of better titles for these posts.

Lots of downtown Raleigh related items were on this week’s council agenda. I don’t see the video for the daytime session on the city’s website so no video will accompany some of the sections today. They said they were experiencing some technical difficulties that day so perhaps that is why.

Either way, let’s recap.

Outdoor Seating
The hottest topic of the week was the discussion around PUPS, Private Use of Public Space. I’ve covered this before, even sent a letter to city council, but this week the council has changed the hours of operations of our outdoor seating. This is a city-wide ordinance change by the way.

Outdoor seating now has to be closed at midnight Sunday-Thursday, 1am Friday and Saturday nights. To be clear, this only affects outdoor seating that takes place on public property, basically sidewalks. Private outdoor seating is unaffected.

Affected downtown businesses fought this as some of them depend on the sidewalk space for a higher quantity of customers. Reducing their capacity earlier means less dollars. Others against the change claim that we’re biting into our economic success.

Those for the changes claim that downtown is not vibrant and the rowdy bar scene is a burden. It boils down to nearby residents who’ve complained about noise and the inability to get adequate sleep.

My thoughts, in short, are that the reduction in hours are unlikely to do anything while hurting businesses. No one wins, only people lose. The market for bars is thriving. That’s not the problem. The problem is the lack of diversity in downtown business. Opening a bar, clearly, is the most profitable, least risky business right now in downtown Raleigh. How can we make other services and retail more attractive? We don’t have any leadership on this issue currently and I’m disappointed that the Downtown Raleigh Alliance was not an active leader in this debate.

Wilmington Street Hotel

The rezoning request for the proposed 12-story hotel at the corner of Wilmington and Lenoir Streets was approved. From the agenda:

A hearing to receive a request of the Trustees of the General Baptist Convention of North Carolina and Derrick L. and Heather Z. Scales to rezone approximately 0.51 acres from Neighborhood Business with Downtown Overlay and Historic Overlay District-General (NB w/DOD & HOD-G) to Downtown Mixed Use – 12 stories – Urban General – Conditional Use (DX-12-UG-CU). The property is located on the southeast quadrant of the intersection of S. Wilmington and E. Lenoir Street and extends eastward on the south side of E. Lenoir Street.

To catch up on this project, read 12-Story Hotel Planned for Wilmington Street Moves Forward.

Moore Square
The Moore Square redesign plan is moving forward. From the agenda:

Staff seeks authorization to proceed with the second phase of the Moore Square improvement project which generally includes master plan adjustment and development of a preliminary schematic design process for the period of August through December, 2015. This phase will also include regulatory meetings with the Department of Administration, the Raleigh Historic Development Commission and the State Historic Preservation Office. Schematic design will be presented to the public through an open
house; to the Parks, Recreation, and Greenways Advisory Board; and to the City Council for final approval in December.

This item was approved and that means that the redesign moves into Phase 2, schematic design. As a note, I’m on the Moore Square Public Leadership Group for this project so will report here after the next meeting when some work on design is released.

Stone’s Warehouse

If the embedded video doesn’t show for you, click here.

The sale of Stone’s Warehouse was approved. Transfer Company will be buying the site for $2.02 million. Plans for the space include a food entrepreneur incubator as well as a general store and community hall. Market-rate townhomes will be built as well as another building for additional food business space.

Catch up on Stone’s Warehouse here.