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Raleigh Wide Open Takes Over Downtown

Posted July 21, 2007
Updated July 22, 2007

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— Raleigh Wide Open took over the streets of downtown Saturday.

The event launched last year as a way to celebrate the opening of Fayetteville Street. This year, there are other new projects on the horizon.

While the music, food and games seemed to be the draw for the thousands who packed downtown Saturday, most people realized it was a party with a purpose. The celebration is all about downtown Raleigh and how far it has come.

“Before, we didn’t come down too much. [There] really wasn’t too much to do,” said Regina Watson. “[There weren’t] too many places to go. But the way they’re doing it now, revitalizing it, I think it’s going to be good.”

One of the most anticipated new additions is the Raleigh Convention Center. Project managers said it's 65 percent complete and should be open for business by September of next year.

“It’s doing very well,” said Mayor Charles Meeker. “It’s a huge building that’s going to be really wonderful when it’s finished next year. It’s going to be a real attraction to our city.”

Meeker will see the city through the next phase of revitalization. No one is running against him this fall for his seat. Filing for the upcoming election period ended Friday. This will be his fourth term in office.

The mayor said he has mixed emotions about running unopposed.

“As a citizen, you know, I think you would like to see choices,” he said. “As a voter, I’d like to see that. But as a candidate, it’s much easier to not have to worry what’s going to happen.”

29 Comments

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  • jahausa Jul 23, 2007

    More conservatives whining about taxes to better the community. More naive comments about confusing streets (Raleigh is small, c'mon, it's really not that hard to find your way) and "bullets" whizzing by (Charlotte). Just ridiculous.

  • OpinionOnEverything Jul 22, 2007

    I agree, too many people are being "whiney" about this topic. Raleigh's Fayetteville street Mall was not a safe and inviting place to be before all this. Bums, trash strewn around, and dark shady corners with concrete planters didn't help out. What is wrong with closing the street a couple times of the year to walk around from place to place consuming vast quantities of beer, hot dogs, and funnel cakes? What, do you expect a repeat of Woodstock 1969 to have a little family fun??

    Yes, convention centers are playing their last hand I'm afraid. Still, if any city or region with as much growth and potential can make it work, it's Raleigh and the Triangle. Downtown Raleigh will become more of a neighborhood with all the condos being built, and a lot of the business activity will have to rely on the local population if they're to survive.

  • christye Jul 22, 2007

    Just wondering. How many times has Fayetteville Street been closed for an event since it was reopened to vehicles?

  • YeahWhatever Jul 22, 2007

    I think Raleigh should start taxing WRAL whines at a $1 per whine, maximum $10 per day. Hot dog that would bring the money in.

  • LocalYokel Jul 22, 2007

    what a waste of resources the convention center is....In January of 2005, the Bookings Institution published a policy brief authored by Prof. Heywood Sanders called Space Available: the Realities of Convention Centers as Economic Development Strategy. Sanders paints a grim view of the convention industry as one in which out of control local government investment in convention center space is underway despite a precipitous and permanent decline in the demand for that space. Sanders describes the state of the industry as an "arms race" in which "local officials are willing to try almost any investment in their quest for more convention visitors." He claims this futile quest is motivated by vested interests and their say anything consultants who have consistently exaggerated the potential economic impact of convention center development.

  • nowayebby Jul 22, 2007

    I don't go to the gauntlet named downtown and have no intentions of going down there.

  • enderby Jul 22, 2007

    "We celebrate the boondoggle of the investments made in Fayetteville Street and the Convention Center."
    - TarheelsDontLikeEdwards .................Only a boondoggle for the rest of us. It is good for a few crooked politician/investors. It takes a lot of meals and rooms with one percent tax to pay for this nonsense, especially when the money is not returned to the taxpayers.

  • MizzZeta Jul 22, 2007

    Rabid_Wolf_2, Charlotte is not bad at all (I don't know what smitty is talking about - smitty might not know what smitty is talking about). I grew up in Charlotte and taught high school there for a number of years. Charlotte and Raleigh have a lot in common, but Raleigh still has a distinctive small-town feel which is not a bad thing. Because of its professional teams, banking and commerce, and huge private sector, Charlotte has managed to offer more services for diverse groups. I enjoyed more activities in Charlotte, including a wider variety for the singles crowd. I went to street festival, but not until 9 PM. I attributed my late arrival to the fact that there was really just food and music to enjoy and not very many activities.

  • Rabid_Wolf_2 Jul 22, 2007

    Had a most excellent time, cab ride home was pricey through. Just in case license check I refuse to even be remotely questioned. Cab ride much less than Lawyers . . .

    Is Charlotte that bad? Have not heard it was.

  • Jenbo Jul 22, 2007

    We went last year and had a blast. Went this year and still enjoyed it (weather was SUPERB!) but felt the offerings weren't as good. We got there a little after 6:30, and there was no more music at the stage close to the Capitol. In fact, no performers whatsoever other than the music stage at the other end closer to Memorial. We wanted to stay for the fireworks, but when Eddie Money, scheduled for 8 pm, hadn't even started by 9, we decided to bag it and go home.

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