Raleigh leaders want Fayetteville Street to be NC's 'Main Street'

Sean Coffey Image
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Raleigh leaders want Fayetteville Street to be NC's 'Main Street'
The Raleigh City Council picked several items it would like to start working on immediately to revitalize downtown

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- More details were revealed about the first changes Capital City residents might see in downtown Raleigh's ambitious revitalization project.

The city's Economic Development Strategy -- which includes 10 pillars to sustain long-term prosperity downtown -- was presented publicly for the first time two weeks ago. The hope is the project will inject Fayetteville Street with new business and retail opportunities and turn it into "North Carolina's Main Street."

Though some of those ideas will likely take years to action, on Tuesday, the City Council picked several items it would like to start working on immediately. Those include the project's streetscape plans, starting with decluttering Fayetteville Street by eliminating large trash bins and benches, as well as adding more overhead lighting.

"How we're going to develop a plan to make the sidewalks places that businesses can use -- the lighting, the trees, the furniture," said Mayor Pro Tem Jonathan Melton. "I think that's the foundation and then we can work on these other layers."

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Other immediate changes the council is considering include expanding free parking in city-owned garages for the first two hours and promoting the city's history of Black-owned businesses.

Tuesday also served as an opportunity for downtown businesses to share feedback and concerns about the project with the council. Those in attendance vouched for better parking and "Upfit Grants" -- which help small businesses invest in property improvements -- both of which are featured in the city's comprehensive strategy.

There were also concerns about making sure the plan doesn't become too Fayetteville Street-centric at the expense of improvements that businesses on Salisbury and Wilmington streets could benefit from.

"The No. 1 stakeholder in this plan should be local small businesses, across the board," said Robert Courts, a small business advocate. "We can save downtown, we will save downtown, and we are ready to partner with everyone here at this table - the council, the DRA, and all the citizens."

Based on the priorities highlighted Tuesday, the City Council asked DRA and city leaders to return in March with both the highest-impact policy changes they may need to vote on for this plan, and the biggest physical changes downtown that may require up-front investment.