How many times have you walked through Market or Exchange Plaza in downtown Raleigh? Did you even know these pedestrian plazas existed? My hunch is that most visitors are not aware of the plazas unless they frequent One Exchange Plaza (the building that houses the City’s Planning and Development offices, amongst others). Personally, I have made the journey well over a thousand times and have noticed that each plaza is in a certain stage of disrepair. That is all about to change!

City Council recently approved plans for a complete makeover of both pedestrian plazas. The plans call for the creation of more flexible and modern spaces, including new concrete paving, benches and seat walls, updated planters, improved site lighting, shade structures, and screen enclosures.

And if you're a history buff, you'll appreciate this...

A colleague recently shared some history about the site, including this undated image (photo courtesy of North Carolina State Archives) depicting Metropolitan Hall, a precursor to City Market and location of Raleigh’s first “city hall”. The building, located at 227 Fayetteville Street, was built in 1870 and demolished in 1920. It was a three-story structure that housed the mayor's office, the jail, the city market, a couple of fire engine houses, and a fire alarm bell (in the clock tower). In the photo, Exchange Plaza is on the left side of the building and Market Plaza is on the right (where the car is). We also came across an old surveyed drawing of the site. We are eager to find out what lies beneath all the existing brick pavers!

Market and Exchange Plazas were originally built in the 1960’s through a public-private partnership between Wachovia, Raleigh Bank and Trust, and the City of Raleigh as a test for the later developed Fayetteville Street Mall. The restoration of Fayetteville Street has brought new life to Raleigh’s main street. Updates for the plazas coincide with the renovation to the former Wachovia Building located at 227 Fayetteville Street. Future investments in the area include a corridor plan for Wilmington Street and updates to Moore Station with the relocation of buses to Raleigh Union Station.

The renovations are expected to last five months, during which pedestrian use of the plazas will be restricted. However, safe access to One Exchange Plaza and other nearby businesses will be maintained at all times.

We will be posting project updates and pictures on Instagram, Twitter and/or Facebook. Project updates will also be posted on the project webpage. The Construction Management Division of the City’s Public Works Department is overseeing the project; Holt Brothers is the general contractor.