Once home to pro baseball in Raleigh, a forgotten piece of downtown gets closer to a makeover

Joel Brown Image
Friday, May 7, 2021
A forgotten piece of downtown Raleigh gets closer to a makeover
Raleigh Parks and Recreation unveiled designs to transform a 14-acre stretch of the city's northern gateway into an urban oasis once home to the minor league Raleigh Capitals baseball team.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Downtown Raleigh's Peace Street corridor between Glenwood Avenue and Person Street is having a moment; a years-long rebuild to the Capital Boulevard gateway is finally finished -- triggering millions in development dollars manifested in the new Smoky Hollow project with its high-rise apartments, Publix grocery store, retail and offices that's ushering in hundreds of new residents. But tucked behind some old buildings and overgrown brush on the lowest end of Peace lies a hidden stream and even more hidden history of baseball.

Thursday night, the city held a virtual open house for its plans to bring this forgotten land back to life.

Raleigh Parks and Recreation hosted the discussion to present preliminary plans and concepts to transform this key piece of the gateway to the Capital City.

It's a long-forgotten piece of Raleigh history: Deveraux Meadows Park. Between the 1930's and 70's, it was a baseball stadium -- home to a Boston Red Sox farm team, the Raleigh Capitals who played Minor League baseball to the delight of thousands of Raleigh fans.

The stadium was demolished in 1979. And now is home to a much-less-thrilling maintenance garage for city workers.

The plans presented Thursday night reimagine this stretch as a lush, sculpted, green space that uncovers the water of the Pigeon House Branch of Crabtree Creek. Three concept designs were presented, some with paths and terraces overlooking a newly-uncovered miniature waterfront to downtown.

"Option 3 would have the most visibility of the stream because the stream is actually longer in that design approach," said Kevin Tweedy a designer with Ecosystems Planning and Restoration.

The panel of designers took questions from the public during the 90-minute session. One questioner asked, will there be any historic signage to represent the history of the land as Deveraux Meadows Baseball Stadium."

Jonathan Smith, of Tetra Tech Engineering, answered, "We're still early in the design process. But we're looking for your feedback on what part of that history and how to tell it."

As Raleigh's gateway grows up rapidly, the process to break ground on this new park will move a bit slower. Funding to build it is still a question mark. Parks and Rec says the best-case scenario is shovels in the ground in five years.