Scenes from Winterfest make Raleigh boosters feel great. Ice skating is a big part of a 10-year master plan from the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, starting with the rink.
"Which, by the way, we're gonna make 500 square feet bigger than it was last year," said David Diaz, Downtown Raleigh Alliance. "[It] is really gonna act to bring more businesses downtown and development. It can really be a central focus for that area."
But what about the rest of the year when there is no ice?
Diaz says there are plans to generate more attractions that could bring more business and more people.
He sees a Rockefeller Center-like atmosphere in the capital city ten years from now complete with a movie theater.
"Because again, if we're bringing 50,000 people to this ice rink like we did last year, a movie theater is more likely to succeed because of the ice rink," Diaz said.
The DRA's plan also calls for creating a Central Park space for downtown -- not necessarily the Dorothea Dix campus, but a place where people can gather and enjoy nature.
More music also is desired to attract creative people. However, that might be a tough sell when so much of downtown is occupied by government buildings.
"It is tough, but if people would come downtown and the people that work downtown would stay downtown, it's a great area," explained Libba Beamer, Grinnell Leadership. "I think downtown living is where it is."
Diaz has the ear of some business leaders, but right now, it's not clear if his ideas will catch on and change the look of downtown Raleigh.
He also thinks Raleigh should plan for the possibility of a future downtown sports facility. Diaz says stadiums or arenas can generate economic development for growing cities.
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