Looking Back Through Downtown Raleigh In 2012

Sidewalk of Fayetteville Street

2012 wasn’t the most exciting year for Downtown Raleigh in my opinion. When looking back, there were no signature moments that really made 2012 stand out. The only fireworks were over Fayetteville Street on July 4th and on the internet the day after.

I will say that 2012 was the year of the Resident. Residential plans and new development boomed in relative terms this year. Several new projects broke ground or were approved targeting the hot rental market. Developers are responding with more apartment complexes in the rest of the city but in downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods, construction has begun on a dense, more urban product.

Union Station took its largest step forward this year, with an announcement of the project being fully funded. Plans are to have the new train station up and running around 2016/2017 time frame.

In 2012, we also saw the city sign a 75-year lease on the Dorothea Dix property to the southeast of downtown. The city plans to turn that into a signature park.

Honorable mentions this year also go out to these stories:

Residential Projects

Increasing the foot traffic in downtown is one of the best ways to bring on the “urban” in Raleigh. It’s great to see these residential projects moving foward, creating neighborhoods, and spurring businesses to pop up along the sidewalks.

The most dramatic announcement in 2012 was probably Skyhouse Apartments, which plans to bring 320 apartments to Martin Street near City Market. The tower will be 264 feet in height and be one of the densest buildings in the city. The plans for the building are not unique though as Atlanta currently has the exact same building.

Glenwood South has been busy building new apartments with the 425 Boylan and St. Mary’s Square projects. These two structures will provide around 400 apartments about two blocks from the Glenwood South strip. That’s a nice injection of residents for those businesses there.

Crane at the future site of 425 Boylan

The one project I’m rooting for is The L Building, the once planned office tower on McDowell Street that has been stalled for years. Now turned residential, the project may have some legs and we’ll finally cover up the hole it has left around the Wake County Parking deck.

2012 had great news for the residents at the West at North condo tower on West Street as the building is sold out. There was also news of a seven-story apartment tower planned for the surface parking lot right next door. Add that to Glenwood South’s rise in being a future neighborhood hangout versus entertainment district.

Union Station Funded

To re-live the Union Station announcement in 2012, watch the video below.

Other Notables

In addition to a great new site re-design, that I had way too much fun building by the way, here are two more articles that I liked posted this year.

Cheers, 2012!

Downtown Raleigh 2011 In Review

Tubes of Light by dtraleigh, on Flickr

2011, what will we remember you by? All-star weekend or Hopscotch 2? Could the food truck saga of this year be the one that sticks out in your mind? Or perhaps, if affected, you may still be dealing with damage from the April tornadoes?

On planning downtown Raleigh, this past year has been pretty active with long range plans becoming more detailed, less alternatives, and more decisions. Missing was another Raleigh Wide Open but there were plenty of events that kept spirits high. One of the biggest feather in downtown’s hosting cap was the 2011 NHL All-Star game, bringing a new format from years past and was reviewed very positively across the hockey world.

As always let’s first start with the 2011 wishlist. This list only consists of items that can be done in one year’s time.

  • Bookstore
  • More Hours
  • Counter Service Food
  • Food Markets
  • Mass Transit Plan

For a second year in a row, a bookstore has not happened. Reading articles about Amazon selling a million Kindles a week this holiday season really isn’t helping new bookstores open especially an independent store in a relatively low traffic, downtown area. Probably the best thing is for downtown residents and workers to support the Wake County express library on Fayetteville Street. The library is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm so if you can work it into your schedule, give this location a shot.

I feel some businesses have tried to expand their operating hours this year. I didn’t keep track of this one very well so correct me if I’m wrong. A few examples that I can think of are The Pit opening on Sundays, Wilmoore Cafe having weekend hours, Poole’s Diner opening on Tuesday nights, and Mecca adding some hours as well. The wish really is to get to the point where downtown Raleigh is “open for business” at all times of the day and night so that people feel there are several options available to them. This pushes the 24/7 idea closer to reality.

Counter service food options are still out on the horizon. Chuck’s attempted counter service but later changed it due to requests. Perhaps more residents in the area will help expand the quick and cheap eats category options.

The downtown Farmer’s Market continued to serve up City Plaza each Wednesday this year during the warmer months, just like the last one. This is probably the closest thing to market style food buying that we’re going to get for awhile. There is however a produce shop over in City Market that a lot of people don’t know about. Walk over there and give them a try if you are into Farmer’s Markets.

There was plenty of transit talk this year and plans are taking steps forward. In light-rail news, the city picked their preferred alternative which involves a light-rail line to enter downtown from the west on Morgan Street and hang a left on to Harrington Street to exit downtown to the north. A comprehensive bus plan has also been released with plans to significantly expand bus service around Raleigh and the rest of the Triangle. High-speed rail is also moving along with a new plan to bridge the trains over Capital Boulevard into Glenwood South as they head for Union Station in the warehouse district.

Construction in 2011

New building construction moved along in 2011 with projects continuing to take shape or break ground. Here is a list of construction projects we’ve been following all year.

  • The American Institute of Architects North Carolina building on Peace Street has finished, or is close to finishing, up now as we close out the year.
  • The Wake County Justice Center started the year as a formation of steel beams in the ground. The construction project will go into 2012, topped off and mostly covered up. County officials have also let everyone know that this project came in under budget.
  • The Green Square project has partially finished with the rest set to open in April 2012. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources offices are fully open as well as the parking deck across the street. The Nature Research Center, with it’s eye catching globe at the corner of Salisbury and Jones Street, will open in 2012.
  • Glenwood South’s first hotel, a Hampton Inn, has broken ground at the corner of Glenwood Avenue and Johnson Street.
  • The North Carolina State Bar has started construction on their new headquarters at the corner of Edenton and Blount Street.
  • All year we’ve watched the State Employees Credit Union building on Salisbury Street rise up and peak at about twelve floors. Glass is being installed on the building now and construction will continue into 2012.

Go here for a gallery of renderings of SECU and Green Square.

Other highlights of 2011:

  • Numerous electric vehicle chargers have been installed around the city with several in close proximity in downtown.
  • A large scale development project, The Edison, has scaled down tremendously.
  • The still empty lot where The L Building is planned now contains attractive banners to cover up the gray wall of the parking deck.

Downtown Raleigh 2010 In Review

The Middle City by dtraleigh, on Flickr

Was 2010 good for you too? This was actually a pretty productive year from a planning point of view. There were a few major projects being planned that we all should follow over the next few years where it will really start to get interesting. From the street though, changes to downtown Raleigh in 2010 were small, but the details count too. First, let’s start off by re-visiting the 2010 wishlist posted a year ago and see how we did. The wishlist is made up of things that could only happen in a year’s time. That list consisted of:

  • A bookstore
  • Raleigh Wide Open 5 on Hillsborough Street
  • Bus shelters
  • More jobs
  • Specialized retail

No bookstores have opened this year which will probably keep this on the wishlist. There were some good comments in this post about your third place where people were in support of a bookstore in the downtown core. No doubt, opening a bookstore in this digital age would be tough but it’s not impossible. The case for one will only get stronger once more residents move here.

Raleigh Wide Open 5 did its thing this year but in my opinion, the Hillsborough Street’s renovation was something larger to celebrate during a year where downtown had little major projects finishing up. Either way, Hillsborough Street got its own party so no one was left out.

Bus shelters are sprouting up around the city, some in downtown too. Certain R-Line stops are getting shelters, showing the city’s commitment to this key service. A big THANK YOU goes out for this one!

More jobs? Honestly, to cover this topic, we could commit an entire post to this but I won’t. Office space did not increase in 2010 so I can’t imagine there were any major jumps in the amount of workers. The number of shops and restaurants though may tell the real story, and so can headlines. From the Triangle Business Journal:

The retail scene is still fragile in downtown. In 2010, the staple White Rabbit, closed its doors after 22 years of doing business here. It’s sad to see them go. On an up note, however, Raleigh Denim moved their shop to and created a store on West Martin Street. Raleigh Denim has received some national and local attention and is an immensely unique thing for downtown Raleigh. Glenwood South saw some changes but is still level from where it is was a year ago with places like Runway and Ripple City adding something different to the handful of art galleries on the strip.

2010 Highlights

The most talked about news topic in 2010 around Raleigh has to be the Wake County School board drama. This blog does not cover that so we will NOT get into it. Downtown connoisseurs such as yourselves were all talking about public safety buildings and fast trains.

The Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center was a hot topic in 2010. On the table was a 17-story $210+ million building to house a bunch of public safety departments across the street from Nash Square next to city hall. The decision was right down the middle and construction hasn’t started. Currently, the project seems to be on the shelf and an unstable economy will probably keep it there. Revisit the Public Safety Center articles on RalCon.

The study for the Southeast High Speed Rail project is chugging along and this year, there were lots of talks about how these trains would come through downtown. The tricky part was that in order to accommodate these trains, streets could not cross the tracks; they had to be closed. North Carolina received lots of stimulus money for trains this year but the decision has to be made where to put them, and groups were arguing over the best path for the high speed trains as they come into town from the north. Revisit the high speed train articles on RalCon.

There was a lot going on this year, really there was. There was a lot of planning going on and I’m hoping the next steps are in place to get these great ideas going in order to enhance the city and our way of life. Let’s run through some more events that happened this year:

Crowd @ Hopscotch 2010
Crowd @ Hopscotch 2010 by OldKing, on Flickr

Downtown Raleigh 2009 In Review

Another year, another Raleigh Wide Open, and another Beerfest are in the books. Back in January, I wrote a post about realistic goals that could happen within a year’s time for downtown Raleigh and I would like to re-visit that list. Read the 2009 Downtown Wishlist first.

Grocery Store

I’ll start out by saying what we all are thinking already. The economy has greatly affected each of these items and anything new in the future. A grocery store has been talked about on the blogs and in the mainstream media but it still has not happened for downtown. The closest thing to one was Capital City Grocery located in Seaboard Station but that closed last year in November 2008 and a replacement never came this year.

I think this will actually take more time then most people think. The big box style of grocery store requires lots of nearby residents and with a big parking lot in front so more people can come with their cars. An urban grocery store needs support by lots of residents close by and downtown does not have that density at all. Downtown’s population is not growing much so we’ll have to revisit this as the economy bounces back and people are buying downtown.

Music Venue

This month, the city council approved the amphitheater for the lot to the west of the convention center. Wish granted!

24 Hour Food

I’ll quote myself from the post back in January:

My dream would be some kind of diner that is always open, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner 24 hours a day.

It is possible that The Diner could be the one. Internet chatter can’t seem to agree whether it will actually be open for 24 hours or not. Since this place has not opened yet, we’ll wait and see for ourselves.

By the slice pizza and delivery

Sauced opened this year and I’m very satisfied with what they have to offer. Now if we can get delivery or maybe quicker service…you know what I’m not going to ask for too much. Wish granted!

At least one corporate re-location to downtown

I’m not even going to research this one because I am out of touch with the downtown corporate scene. RBC Plaza opened in late 2008 and the bank filled some floors as well as others signing leases in the rest of the building. If anyone can elaborate on the rest of the office space in downtown and how it is fairing, I’m sure readers would appreciate the information.

You could argue that Campbell Law’s move to downtown is similar to a corporate relocation. I’ll take it!

Online Raleigh scene

There have been some new additions to the online blog options this year, most with a very focused topic. There’s still a lacking in podcasting or video but that may take awhile to get going.

What would you like on your 2010 wishlist?