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You Are Here: Raleigh Seeks Better Directions For Visitors

Posted December 18, 2006

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— The city is trying to head in a new direction -- one where people can get where they want to go.

With a new Fayetteville Street, new convention center, new businesses and existing tourist attractions, Raleigh planners said more needs to be done to help tourists and local residents get where they need to go. People feel unsafe, nervous and unwelcome when they don't know where they are going, they said.
so they hope to roll out the welcome mat by changing the way people gets to and from downtown.

“We want people to feel welcome in downtown Raleigh, comfortable and oriented,” said Elizabeth Alley, a planner with the Raleigh Urban Design Center.

The city has hired Corbin Design of Traverse City Mich., which is nationally recognized in the field of "way-finding." The firm will develop a sign system, and President Mark Vander Klipp is meeting with representatives from all downtown attractions to get their input.

Signs on Interstate 40 and downtown help guide visitors, but city officials said there aren't enough of them.

Stephanie Santala of Knightdale, for example, had a hard time finding her way into downtown Raleigh Friday to do business at the courthouse.

“It was kind of confusing getting here with no signs or anything,” Santala said.

With all of the construction going on downtown, city officials said they want the new signage system to be flexible and respond to change. They hope to have a new design by next fall and have part of the system implemented before the new convention center opens in 2008.

The new signs will cost up to $1 million, but Vander Klipp said the cost is a way to protect the investment already going on downtown.

“You can build these multimillion-dollar destinations, (but) if people can't find them or parking adjacent or if they don't know what the local restaurants are close to the performing arts center, for instance, then you don't have those synergies,” he said.

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