Downtown Raleigh businesses ready to see change: 'Let's brighten it up'

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Thursday, April 11, 2024
Downtown Raleigh businesses ready to see change
Is downtown Raleigh's 'big dream' finally coming true?

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The City of Raleigh and the Downtown Raleigh Alliance needed help to accomplish an economic vision. So they hired consulting firms and are in month 10 of a 12-month process to create a final plan to present to the city council.

Downtown business owners said they are ready to see change.

"I can't believe that this is the capital because it's not speaking, "said Marrilynn Johnson.

She said she sees untapped potential in downtown Raleigh.

Johnson works with Rolley Private Showroom on Fayetteville Street which is an art gallery and event space. Just like the gallery, Flavor Hills restaurant has also found success downtown.

"The city embraces with open arms from the start, from all the way from the permitting process to dealing with Downtown Raleigh Alliance," said Tellers Pollard of Flavor Hills.

The city is working with Interface Studio to find the best way to improve downtown. It has helped revitalize downtowns in major cities such as Atlanta and midlevel cities such as Montgomery, Alabama.

"A lot has changed across the country in downtowns of all sizes," said Scott Page, principal of Interface Studio.

The team outlined various ideas from the public such as a map with things including more dynamic public space, more connections between the different districts and even more housing.

"What do we do in the wake of the pandemic? How do we bring more people and more vibrancy to our downtowns?" said Page.

"I would like to see more on the street. Let's live it up. Let's brighten it up. Let's have more outdoor seating," added Pollard.

The forum also allowed taxpayers to share where to spend the money.

"We have a finite set of dollars and how you can spend it across different options but this also gives us a chance to see what's important to the residents as we move forward," said Councilman Corey Branch.

Many are ready for the 'big dream' to come alive.

Branch said some efforts are moving forward such as improving safety and cleanliness of sidewalks and streets.

He also said a final report should be shared with the city council this summer and a priority list will be made based on funding.