Fayetteville Street sits at heart of Downtown Raleigh Alliance plans to revitalize the City of Oaks

Tuesday, February 13, 2024
Raleigh leaders consider revitalization plans for Fayetteville Street
A plan to revitalize Raleigh's downtown core was brought to city leaders for the first time Tuesday.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A plan to revitalize Raleigh's downtown core was brought to city leaders for the first time Tuesday.

Several months ago, Downtown Raleigh Alliance (DRA) tasked urban design consultant Interface Studios with creating a comprehensive plan that could reshape the core of the city.

These recommendations to reshape the core of the city are part of DRA's economic development strategy.

Last Thursday, DRA and the City of Raleigh released the first set of recommendations for that strategy. Their focus was to position Fayetteville Street as the city's new main street.

"We want to turn downtown Raleigh back into the magnet that it was a couple of years ago," said Pam Blondin, owner of The Deco, one block from Fayetteville Street.

Blondin was one of the business owners who served on the project's advisory committee. She said it all comes back to turning Fayetteville Street into North Carolina's Main Street.

"To try to highlight and attract North Carolina businesses, North Carolina restaurants, North Carolina things that will appeal to folks who are coming to visit, as well as people who live and work downtown," Blondin said.

That plan starts with activating Fayetteville Street through bold ideas that range from broadening and de-cluttering the sidewalks to increase walkability and opportunities for outdoor dining, to growing Raleigh's arts and entertainment options -- to bringing more housing and retail downtown.

"If you look at the streetscape along Fayetteville Street, there's some clutter," said DRA President Bill King. "You have old newspaper boxes, things like that that could get removed, make it easier for restaurants and businesses to use the sidewalk space and activate it."

King said connecting and condensing the downtown corridor is top of mind in the city's long-term growth plan.

"It'd be very easy for it to sprawl, " King said. "And so you want to have dense urban centers. As much as you can, being able to steer development into that because that creates walkability, it creates less car dependency, it lets you build out a transit system."

The DRA's also hoping the strategic plan reinforces new safety measures they've recently implemented -- like enhanced security patrols and better lighting -- by projecting a cleaner, less cluttered vision for the city.

"This is all part of it," King said. "You've got to have all of it, so you got to have safety, but you also have to have these elements as well to make everything work. So then more people want to come down here, spend time here, invest here and be a part of this."

The 80-page plan released last week is the first of a four-part project the city hopes to implement long term, that will also address issues like downtown office space and minority-and-women-owned businesses. It's not yet clear when work on the first part of the project will begin.

On Tuesday the Raleigh city council is going to get an official presentation of the planned recommendations for changes to downtown Raleigh.

The "Activating Fayetteville Street" report had 10 recommendations that outline ideas and opportunities for reinvigorating the Fayetteville Street area of downtown Raleigh, plus creating more connections to surrounding neighborhoods. The team gathered feedback from a diverse group of community members.

"There's been a new need for reinvestment as well as new energy on the street to have it be a reflection of what the community would like it to be," Will Gaskins, the vice president of economic development and planning at Downtown Raleigh Alliance, said.

This is only the first phase of the development. DRA will develop and release another phase of planned recommendations for the rest of downtown Raleigh.