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.
Moore Square is getting close to wrapping up its makeover as the city has announced a string of events to celebrate the reopening of the downtown square. The grand opening party is on August 3rd but there will be events the night before as part of First Friday.
Moore Square Grand Opening Celebration
Date/Time: Sat., Aug. 3 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Moore Square Park
226 East Martin Street
The full schedule is here. With live music, a playground for kids, and a movie, the events should test out the square’s ability to play host.
In addition to the square, the house at 226 East Martin will be the Moore Square Visitor’s center. The center will sell local merch in addition to “a history exhibit detailing the historic significance of the Square and surrounding district to the city of Raleigh.”
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 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.
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.
It’s exciting to see the square come together and the timing seems good to have it open before Spring 2019. Fingers crossed!
The renovation of Moore Square is very much underway with a lot of small shrubs and short trees being removed. The holidays were a distraction but I noticed the difference recently and just had to grab a photo.
In the winter, with the leaves off the old oak trees, you can really see right through the square which makes it feel a lot bigger than it really is.
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.
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.