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Merchants: Business Traffic Slow on Fayetteville Street

Posted May 4, 2007

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— When Fayetteville Street reopened to traffic last summer, some business owners thought profits would pick up. Instead, some merchants say, progress has been slow, and they would like to know why.

While Raleigh's new main street continues to attract visitors after dark, the fanfare surrounding the reopening of the street a year ago has fallen off, which merchants say isn't good for business.

"It's frustrating to see a lot of progress but not much happening," said Mikhail Jannik, who runs coffeehouse Crema on Fayetteville Street.

"We thought it would have moved a whole lot faster than it has," said Carter Powell, the owner of Fayetteville Street Tavern.

City officials point to plenty of construction downtown as a sign of progress. But they admit it will take time to get past the growing pains.

"We're working on bringing more retail to the street," Raleigh Planning Director Mitchell Silver said. "We're starting to see more storefronts being renovated, the RBC Plaza under construction, now the (convention center Marriott) hotel is out of the ground. It will have a restaurant on the ground floor and a coffee shop in the corner."

Eventually, Silver said, up to 60,000 square feet of retail space will be developed downtown. This week, the city signed off on drawings for a new City Plaza, he said.

But business owners said they're ready to see plans move off the drawing board and become reality.

"It'll be nice to start seeing a lot of these things coming to fruition and not like, 'It's going to be here. It's going to be here,'" Jannik said. "It's a big hurry up and wait."

Jannik and Powell agreed that, once the construction is finished, they expect more traffic and activity downtown. They also said they hope for more block parties on Fayetteville Street, like the return of the Raleigh Wide Open Celebration and the Live After 5 concerts that used to be on the Fayetteville Street Mall before moving to Glenwood South.

"Being patient is the name of the game. That's all you can do," Powell said.


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  • Believer May 6, 2007

    childfree_in_rdu -at- hotmail -dot- com - aside from the bad neighborhoods to the south I haven't had issues with most of the rest. I have worked downtown and only been asked for money 3 times. That doesn't seem like an all the time situation.

  • refiman May 6, 2007

    as afr as my comment on Sherman's army burning farms 200 miles away from where his troops were. I figured I would have to explain it to some. Yes, it is strange that his troops could have burned farms in western NC, since they were never there. Yet, alot of people in western NC accuse his troops of burning the family farm. That is where blaming his army for their own short comings entered the conversation. Now, do you understand, since I spelled it out for you in very simple terms??

  • refiman May 6, 2007

    Sigil Odegra, if you were not ready for the "yankee" conversation, why did you bring it up?

  • flashlight May 6, 2007

    Fayetteville Street, eventually extending to Memorial Auditorium, will never be a street for the purpose of moving "thru" traffic. It provides curbside vehicle access to what could only be reached previously by, gasp, walking. The lights are timed around pedestrian movement, not moving cars through as quickly as possible. Which makes sense, because most traveling up, down and across Fayetteville are on foot.

    In terms of safety downtown, I question whether some of these posters have actually BEEN downtown in the past few years. I feel just as safe (day, night, weekends) as anywhere else in Raleigh. Just like the rest of the city outside of downtown, there are certainly areas that are best avoided. I'm surprised some people haven't barricaded themselves inside their homes since the sight alone of a homeless person strikes such intense fear on their part.

    I agree that downtown should offer more to the crowd who doesn't regularly spend $20 on dinner. I don't think downtown sho

  • Michael Kenyon May 6, 2007

    childfree - for me it's none of those things (though having my car vandelized would be a big bummer!)

    It's mainly the lack of parking, and the lack of a choice of restaurants open in the evenings/weekends. Clyde Cooper's? Closes at 6. The Roast Grill? Not open for dinner. What is open is often "trendy" and/or expensive, neither of which appeals to me. I do like Ri Ra and Tir 'na Nog.

    I like museums, but once I've been, I usually don't go back (to the same one) for three or four years.

    Then with the tow-happy-for-a-profit traffic enforcement, it's just not attractive.

  • childfreeinrdu May 6, 2007

    ". . . progress has been slow, and they would like to know why." Duh. Could it perhaps be the non-stop hounding by panhandlers that one experiences when visiting downtown that is keeping customers away? No? Maybe it is the inconvenience of having your vehicle broken into or vandalized while you shop? No? Maybe it is having to look over your shoulder the entire time you are downtown, keeping an eye out for pickpockets or muggers, without a cop in sight? No? Well, maybe it's having to drive through entire neighborhoods of gangs and crackheads just to get downtown? Hmmmm, I just don't know why people don't like to go downtown. It's a mystery to me!

  • Michael Kenyon May 6, 2007

    from my last post:
    "And who said anything about "blaming" anybody?"

    Except that I am blaming Raleigh City Government.

  • Michael Kenyon May 6, 2007

    "the reason most people in NC don't like yankees"
    Who said anything about not liking yankees? LOL - I married one. Been married for over 20 years and hoping for 20 more.

    "NC would have been better off being burned" - Huh?

    "I have heard that family farms were burned by Sherman's army 200 miles from where any of his troops were" - I don't think your logical facilities are working very well this morning.

    And who said anything about "blaming" anybody? I think you're hyper-sensitive.

  • refiman May 6, 2007

    Sigil Odegra, that comment about "you yankees" really shows your ingnorance. To generalize everyone who was not here as yankees is truly redneck. Fact is most people who have moved here inthe last 20-30 years are not from the north. Bu the way, the reason most people in NC don't like yankees is because they have been wrongly told that Sherman burned alot of NC. Truth is that Sherman took it easy in NC because NC deligates had as much troulbe back then making up their minds as they do today. NC barely joined the south during the war. Yes, NC would have been better off being burned, but no it did not happen. I have heard that family farms were burned by Sherman's army 200 miles from where any of his troops were. I guess it is just easier to blame someone else for your own shortcomings.

  • Tyrone Williams May 6, 2007

    The Dude,

    Maybe the urine stench coming from Moore Square is impacting your thinking. Instead of heading north out of Raleigh head south past all the college kids' illegally parked cars and observe all the crack heads. What if your car breaks down there after dark? Your history no matter what the stats say.