Downtown Raleigh is the heart and soul of our city, and the region. It has changed significantly over the last ten years. It is no longer a sleepy place. It is vibrant, diverse, and energetic. Tens of thousands of people live, work, and play here. And lots of development is underway or planned.

Looking to improve and enhance the downtown Raleigh experience, the city partnered with the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, Sasaki Associates, HR&A Advisors, Kimley-Horn and Associates, and Jacobs Engineering Group to create a new vision for growth and development over the next decade. Last week, following more than a year of public meetings, workshops, and online interactions, Raleigh’s City Council unanimously adopted the Downtown Plan.

The vision of the plan, in summary, is to celebrate downtown Raleigh as a hub of innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship and to continue shaping it into a place that is authentic and inclusive.

This plan is the product of extensive online and in-person conversations. More than 7,000 people contributed their thoughts and ideas – sharing their hopes and dreams for a better Raleigh. Some stakeholders used social media to voice their opinions, others submitted online surveys. In addition to online dialogue, people participated in one-on-one conversations, public meetings, brainstorming sessions, and debates, all of which continued Raleigh’s culture of collaboration. Groups gathered to brainstorm, mark-up maps, and work together to create a shared vision. The themes that emerged and that were incorporated into the plan include:

•    BREATHE – A Greener Raleigh – Create public open spaces where people can pause and breathe, gather, and relax within the city;
•    MOVE – Create Connections – Make walking, biking, and transit the preferred ways to get in and around downtown Raleigh;
•    STAY – Revitalization and Redevelopment – Realize downtown’s potential as a dynamic city-center neighborhood anchoring tourism, entertainment, and culture; and
•    LINK – Network and Partner – Align with institutional, public, and private partners to bring downtown’s shared vision to life.

The plan identifies five strategic locations to focus its efforts:

•    North End, as its name implies, is located at the northern end of the downtown area. It combines housing and local retail to create an urban neighborhood along North Person Street and Seaboard Station;
•    Gateway Center, located in the southern section of the downtown area, encompasses the Raleigh Convention Center, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, and hotels. The plan recommends leveraging those assets into a large-scale convention, tourism, employment, and entertainment destination;
•    Moore Square, a great civic space located in the heart of Raleigh, is located on the eastern side of the downtown area and is undergoing a complete renovation. This area is adjacent to the Marbles Kids Museum and IMAX theater to the north, and the Moore Square Transit Station to the west, which will also be transformed. City Market, located to the south, is a unique shopping and restaurant area;
•    Nash Square/Raleigh Union Station, located in the Warehouse District, is developing into Downtown’s innovation hub. This area will feature great public spaces, art galleries, maker spaces, and offices for various companies. It is a place where transportation, innovation, and public spaces meet; and,
•    Glenwood Green, located in the Glenwood South district, is a thriving mixed-use area ready to accommodate new residential development. This area will be better connected to the rest of the city following improvements to the Capital Boulevard/Peace Street interchange and the creation of a new park and greenway trail along Pigeon House Branch in the Devereux Meadows area.

So what’s next? Now that City Council has adopted the plan’s recommendations, staff will amend the city’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan. While the Downtown Plan is a ten-year plan, updates will be made often. Stakeholder meetings will continue, and updates to Council will occur on a regular basis.

Before I wrap this one up, I'd like to thank all who participated in this endeavor! City Council, citizen activists, district visionaries, participants, and meeting attendees all contributed to the final product. Trisha Hasch, Project Manager, added the following: “Cheers to Raleigh residents and business owners, Citizen Advisory Councils, and our great City and Downtown Raleigh Alliance staffs. This was one of those memorable Raleigh experiences and an extraordinary example of people working together to create and make happen a vision for our city, one that celebrates connection, diversity, authenticity, creativity, and innovation. The time is now.”

For more information about the plan or future public meetings, visit the Downtown Plan webpage or contact Trisha Hasch at 919-996-4641.

 

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