Downtown Raleigh retail district grows amid economic boom

Andrea Blanford Image
Monday, July 30, 2018

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- New numbers from the Downtown Raleigh Alliance's second-quarter report show downtown's economic boom is feeding retail growth.

More than 2,000 residential units have been completed over the last three years; 95 percent of those are occupied.

Also, office occupancy is near a historic high with less than nine percent of office space sitting vacant. Those numbers are set to change as The Dillon continues to fill up and One Glenwood and FNB Tower are under construction.

With more people living and working downtown, the demand for retail has increased and local retailers are eager to meet it.

Bill King, Senior Vice President of Economic Development and Planning for the DRA, said it's been a strong summer for retail in the downtown area.

Five retailers have either opened or moved to the Hargett Street and Martin Street corridors, with five more slated to open there before the end of the year.

"We gave up the corner location, but we're happy to have other people move in to make it a retail district," said Kirsten Wyatt, Artist and Community Relations Manager for DECO Raleigh.

The gift shop expanded from its corner location on Hargett and Salisbury Streets into a new, bigger space just a few doors down on Salisbury.

"We are really big on supporting local artists and makers so the more people that we can get downtown to shop around, walk around, is good for our business, good for their business and good for Raleigh," said Wyatt.

The vast majority of retail in downtown is locally owned, but some national retailers are moving in, including Urban Outfitters, which is slated to open in The Dillon.

"Our hope is that the national retailers that do come are able to help bring traffic and support the local retailers," said King. "If you're shopping purely on convenience, you're probably just gonna go to the nearest thing to you. But if you're looking for an experience, downtown local retailers tend to be the best at that."