Local News

Raleigh's City Market Suffering Effects Of Slow Economy

Posted April 8, 2002

— Downtown Raleigh has come alive in recent years, and City Market has been a big part of that revitalization. However, things might be taking a turn for the worse.

Many downtown businesses rely on tourists to keep their businesses going. After Sept. 11., tourism dropped by 20 percent, and so did sales.

Sweet Tea and Grits has been a staple at City Market for five years. Owner Betsy Hunt even expanded her store a year ago because business was so good.

"This past January and February have been the slowest on record," Hunt said.

Now, Hunt is closing up shop. Sweet Tea and Grits is one of three downtown businesses that has been forced to close in the past six months.

During that time, seven stores have also opened.

Raleigh Downtown Alliance direcor Errol Frailey said while some businesses are hurting, it is just temporary.

Progress Energy has plans to pump $100 million into the downtown area with a new office complex on Blount Street, and Empire Properties recently announced plans to turn the Heilig-Levine buildings into shops and restaurants.

"I think that the best is ahead of us, really," Frailey said. "We've got to expand the number of people that are coming downtown, so that will be our challenge."

Frailey said despite a slight downturn in the economy, interest in the downtown area has increased ever since plans were announced to turn Fayetteville Street Mall back into a street.

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