Local News

Plan To Eliminate Raleigh Red Tape Aims To Attract More Businesses To Downtown

Posted July 23, 2004

— The city of Raleigh wants to make life easier for some business owners. The goal is to bring more people and money downtown by eliminating some of the red tape so businesses can improve their appearance and services.

Some people say getting simple things done in downtown Raleigh is a long and complicated process. City leaders want to make it easier and they are starting on Fayetteville Street.

Many downtown patrons like to eat outside and many restaurants want to provide that service. Right now, getting approval for outside dining, or even an awning, can take businesses more than a month at City Hall and requires council approval.

"Things like this shouldn't take such a long time to do, they are minor issues," restaurant owner Danny Nesrallah said.

Many minor issues get the same treatment as major ones. For example, to put up a sandwich board, a business has to go through the same process as it takes to install a fiber optic line.

Recruiters say that discourages small businesses from giving downtown a try.

"The rules and regulations are so complex and in technical language and for them to understand it, in many cases they need a lot of professional assistance," said Margaret Mullen, of the

Downtown Raleigh Alliance

.

There is a push to make the simple things simple -- starting with Fayetteville Street Mall.

Construction to open the street begins in the fall. A new handbook for the project will make the little things easier to do.

Instead of a month to get a sandwich board approved, it could take just a day. If the proposal passes and works, it could be expanded to businesses across downtown.

"By making it easier for them to come down and get through our process, we hope to attract new investment in that way," said Dan Douglas of the Urban Design Center.

A public hearing on some ideas to make downtown more business friendly was held Thursday. City leaders hope to have a new proposal in place before construction at the mall begins.

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