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.

Moore Square Master Plan Updates

Proposed design for Moore Square, April 2015

Proposed design for Moore Square, April 2015. Click for larger.

This week, I was invited to participate in the Moore Square Master Plan Public Leadership Group. (PLG) The group consists of individuals from a variety of organizations that may have interests in Moore Square and the upcoming redesign. This included people from the state, the city, neighborhood groups/CACs, and nearby businesses. I was there as a rep from the Raleigh Downtown Living Advocates and just active downtown resident.

The group met at Market Hall and were hosted by the city and Sasaki Associates, the group behind the Downtown Experience Plan. We all discussed the aspects that we were most excited about as well as most concerned about.

Above is the handout that we got and I scanned it in to share here with readers. Those that have been following along should recognize almost all of it as this is the same plan that has been on hold since maybe as far back as 2010.

The proposed design revolves around four central themes:

  • Gateway plazas – Large entrances that invite people into the square.
  • Event Spaces – Areas for a stage or tent to support events.
  • Street Edges – Along the perimeter, a subtle edge is created to give the square a sense of defined space.
  • Family Spaces – An area of mounds and natural play areas for children to climb and roam.

Uses of the square were discussed, with the intent to gather lots of feedback about what people want to experience in the square so that the design may attempt to accommodate. These activities were broken out into themes as well. They were Food, Health, Learn, Shop, Gather, Art, Relax, and Play.

Activities are more like yoga classes, food carts, history walking tours, or other meetups. More emphasis was put on small-scale, inclusive activities rather than ticketed large-scale events. (something we’re used to seeing now in Moore Square)

Some of the biggest concerns in the proposal from the group were:

  • Design had to promote safety.
  • Concerns over a possible public restroom.
  • Felt that the public sector shouldn’t run a cafe/kiosk with businesses nearby.

The installation of a cafe/kiosk may not even be allowed as the state and/or historic commissions may prohibit permanent structures on the square. If you didn’t know, Moore Square is state-owned land that is leased to the city. If built however, the cafe would be leased out to a private business to operate, similar to the cafe that is in Pullen Park today.

There was an open house yesterday and one tonight but you can still get your comments in about the proposal on this thread over at Your Parks Your Future.

The timeline puts construction taking place in “2016/2017” according to the city’s website project page.