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City Has a Plaza in Mind for Fayetteville Street

Posted February 2, 2007

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— Fayetteville Street could have a new look by next summer.

A new concept design is on the table, four months after the city rejected a project by international artist Jaume Plensa.

The city now has developed a virtual view that demonstrates the vision for a plaza on Fayetteville Street.

“We have a large, flexible central space,” says Dan Douglas of the city's Urban Design Center. What will make the plaza attractive, he says, isn't what's in the center, but rather businesses around it that appeal to downtown visitors.

“We're working really hard with all the adjacent property owners to draw restaurants, cafes, newsstands—activities that will support everyday life in the downtown,” Douglas says.

Last October, the Raleigh City Counsel rejected Plensa’s proposed art project. The design featured a lot of lights, and it had a lot of critics who lamented its blocking the view down Fayetteville Street.

“This will be for events and parades down the middle,” Douglas says.

Douglas says the open concept is in keeping with the parameters the Raleigh City Council laid out last October. It would provide infrastructure that would lay the groundwork for future art projects, from temporary designs to hi-tech art displays.

“It's a place where it'll draw people,” Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker says. The council is prepared to spend the $10 million necessary to upgrade the plaza's infrastructure, he says.

Council members will get to see this concept design for the first time Tuesday. If they sign off on it, a formal plan could be in place by April.

The goal is to have the plaza done by June 2008.

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  • No Quarter Feb 4, 2007

    Why must Raleigh continue so fervently to become Charlotte? Leave well enough alone. Next thing you know, some politician(s) will begin advocating the implementation of a train rail.

  • dmccall Feb 4, 2007

    Oops. My previous comment was made before I understood that the image is actually the East half of the square. Apparently both sides will be similar, as shown in the flyovers on the video.

    What this plan shows is a nice gathering place for people who are within 3 blocks. It is flexible, caters to both cars and pedestrians, and allows for programming that can draw people from far away.

    What the plan is NOT, is a world-class square that will impress visitors and be famous.

    There are so many limitations to the space, however, that perhaps we will find a place to put a famous monument or square as our downtown matures. For now, though, let's just make it a good space that attracts our own hard-working people.

  • raglangr Feb 4, 2007

    Let's not forget that this could have been paid for by a private donation, now it seems taxpayers will have to foot the bill. Good going, Raleigh.

  • superman Feb 3, 2007

    Rosiswired-- if it didnt work around the corner why u think it is going to work there. I worked downtown for 10 years-- nothing there to make me me ever go back? either during the week for lunch or the weekend. Your next posting should include some places you would recommend people who dont work downtown to patronize. I am glad to hear u think it has been well received-- not all of us share your opinion.

  • Mo Feb 3, 2007

    I might add it is no wonder people are confused with the typical abreviated news articles presented on this site. It's almost imposible to know the whole story on any issue. That's one reason news is so easily slanted.

  • Mo Feb 3, 2007

    Poor confused people. The street is finished and it has been well received with thousands of dollars of private investment pouring into the surrounding downtown area (an increased tax base that will easily offset any public funding). The plaza under discussion at this time is the incomplete street connection to the south, adjacent to the new civic center, Marriott hotel and new buildings under development.

  • saturn5 Feb 3, 2007

    First it was a street and they didn't like it.
    So they changed it to a mall, and they didn't like it.
    Then they changed it back to a street, and they don't like it.
    Now they're gonna try changing it back into a ma-, um I man "plaza."

    Your tax dollars at work.

  • Mo Feb 3, 2007

    Glad to see a new direction for this important space. Private developers in Raleigh update and improve infrastructure to create inviting outdoor places for people and to fill storefronts. It's a shame that when those same infrastructure improvements are needed for public spaces and streets the vocal few always seem to express knee-jerk negative comments condeming any change or use of public money. I'm glad we have well informed leaders who support learning from the examples of other cities of what good infrastructure can do for a community.

  • E-Diva Feb 3, 2007

    How many times do I have to read "Fayetteville Street could have a new look by...."? Stop changing it and move on.

  • dmccall Feb 3, 2007

    Public places are only successful if they draw hard-working people there to pass the time. It isn't necessarily art, water, or technology that makes a place inviting. Rather, it is the provision of a place for people to create ad hoc. It needs to be more of a blank slate than a prescribed template, if you will.

    At the charette several ideas for focal projects were created and presented. The most important point of the night is that people wanted a space that is flexible and has features that change. We discussed water, LED light projects, and sound and the common thing was that each of these features be different each time a person visits.

    I seems that the west half of this space, pictured, will have pavilions and be a space where hard-working people can pass the time by eating, drinking coffee, playing chess, configuring chairs as THEY like. The east half, not pictured, will most likely house a technology feature designed to wow people who aren't already in the area.