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Artists bring new life to vacant downtown Raleigh storefronts

Posted March 1, 2012

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— A Raleigh group is bringing new life to vacant storefronts in downtown. 

Beautifying Emerging Spaces Together (BEST) is made up of artists and locals looking to add some flair to the approximately 100 empty storefronts in the city. 

Patrick Shanahan worked Thursday on a mural for the old Raleigh Sandwich Shop building on Wilmington Street. 

"It's just got the energy of somewhere you go grab drinks or grab a sandwich," Shanahan said of the mural. 

BEST organizer Donna Belt said they are at their most creative when things become difficult.

"We look around and see all these buildings and say, 'Wow, what's the possibility in that?'" Belt said. "That's the thing that draws us all together." 

Although about 10 percent of the storefronts downtown are empty now, things are looking better this year, business recruiters say. 

"Each year, we're seeing numbers, a net gain, which is positive, so that's great," said Paul Reimel, spokesman for the Downtown Raleigh Alliance. 

Artists bring life to vacant storefronts Artists bring life to vacant storefronts

Shanahan's mural on Wilmington Street should be up by the end of the month.

The BEST group is looking at another storefront down the street for a future art installation.


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  • mmtlash Mar 2, 2012

    @superman having Fayetteville St as a mall didn't work before and I'd doubt it work now. Raleigh is neither a tourist destination nor is it a large city (in the bigger scheme of things)....if trends continue I'm sure downtown will experience a bit of a renaissance eventually

  • superman Mar 2, 2012

    You cant bring life back to a dead or dying downtown. With the price of gas they should consider closing the streets downtown and make it a walking mall. That way they wouldnt have to keep closing the streets.

  • braddavis Mar 2, 2012

    I know Patrick, and chances are good he will do the work free of charge. It's a chance for him to promote his talent(and he is incredible!)....can't verify that, but it would be my hunch.

  • respect Mar 2, 2012

    I hope it is not public coffers, there are plenty of private,philanthropic funds for this!

  • 426X3 Mar 1, 2012

    Curious? Are private businesses funding this?