Downtown Raleigh 2011 Wishlist

Snow Market
Snow Market by dtraleigh, on Flickr

Now that the year is almost over, it is time to look forward. 2010 may have been a year in planning for downtown Raleigh so maybe we will see some of that planning be carried out in 2011. Borrowing a little from last year’s list, here is the 2011 wishlist of things that could actually happen in a year’s time.

Bookstore

For the long time readers, a bookstore has been mentioned quite a few times on this blog. Currently, downtown Raleigh has the express library on Fayetteville Street. But with limited hours and a small selection, it is more of a pickup spot for requested books then an actual library.

A bookstore with a unique offering of new works and perhaps monthly used book sales would be ideal. Maybe it could start off as a small thing inside the next coffee shop that opens up.

More Hours

By wishing for more hours, I mean that I wish for places to stay open later and open earlier. I want downtown to continue to push toward serving all of us for 24 hours of the day. I’d like to see typical lunch-only places to start staying open for dinner and weekday only places start catering to the weekend crowds.

A huge change in hours, I feel, should come from the more corporate businesses. Those limited hours and closings during major events hurt downtown’s image. Places like CVS, Chick Fil A, and Quizno’s being closed on the weekends are not helping to serve those that are in the area on the weekends. When people see that CVS is closed at 2 PM on a Saturday, that brings about a negative viewpoint on downtown Raleigh and less towards the CVS itself. This needs to slowly change.

Counter Service Food

Downtown Raleigh’s variety of restaurants is what makes it a destination. They also make it expensive for nearby residents to eat out many times. For me, it would be nice to head out and have several food options where I could eat for under seven or eight dollars. Some simple counter service food places with decent hours would really get locals walking around the streets more often. I’m not trying to take away from the great restaurants but sometimes, I just want a coke and good sandwich for dinner.

Food Markets

The chicken and egg saga with the downtown grocery store creeps back every now and then. Grocery stores say there needs to be a certain amount of people for them to set up shop. On the other hand, a lot of people claim that one of the reasons for not moving into downtown is because of its lack of a grocery store. So how do you crack this?

I’m adding food markets to the wishlist because I would like to see more stores selling food and drink that people can take with them. Convenience stores like Taz’s is a start but slowly, the options need to expand outside of beer and wine. A deli could sell meats and breads as well as their typical lunch menu. The Downtown Farmer’s Market should expand and try to serve more people at more times of the day.

Little things like this create the culture of buying foods in different places many times during the week, which is much more urban then stocking up on groceries from a big box in a shopping center. Downtown doesn’t need a grocery store at all, it needs lots of little markets.

Mass Transit Plan

November 2011 could be the year that we’ll all see the 1/2 cent sales tax increase on the ballot. This tax would fund transit improvements if voters approve of it. To sell that tax increase, there had better be a well researched, well documented transit plan for the city over the next twenty years. With a weak plan, it’s possible the vote will be turned down and then transit funding will be killed for many more years. I’m hoping transit planners in the area can deliver, next year, a plan that is well thought out to every last detail.