Raleigh, N.C. — Boosters are placing more emphasis on expanding downtown Raleigh residential options to attract more retailers to the city's center.
Last year, 38 businesses opened shop downtown, while another 17 closed. The net growth was up 30 percent from 2011.
Paul Reimel, economic development manager for the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, said his group is trying to attract a grocery store, a movie theater and other amenities to the area.
"(More residential growth is needed) to really prove the demographics are here to support a downtown grocery store," Reimel said Monday.
About 5,000 people live in the downtown area, and another 1,200 housing units are planned.
"It's nice to see all the retail developing, so you have a lot more options for retail as well," said Catherine Winter, who moved with her husband from Apex to downtown Raleigh last year.
Reimel said a 2011 study counting pedestrians downtown helped Downtown Raleigh Alliance recruit new businesses.
Mark Saad, chief financial officer of flip-flop retailer Feelgoodz Treehouse, said his company nearly bypassed downtown for a space in the suburbs last year.
"We've been surprised to find we've sold just as much here as we would've sold at a major shopping center or strip mall," Saad said.
Dr. Adam Moore opened downtown's only current dental practice six months ago. A lifelong Raleigh resident, he said he has seen changes downtown and still marvels at the progress.
"I never went to Fayetteville Street until seven or eight years ago. I never dreamed I'd be working here and living here," Moore said.