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Downtown Raleigh Retail Not Keeping Pace With Residents

Posted January 4, 2008

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— About 3,000 people live in downtown Raleigh, and that number is expected to rise. By 2030, the population is projected to be close to 25,000. More rooftops means a need for more retail.

People have flocked to downtown Raleigh to live, but so far, businesses haven’t kept pace.

Experts said they believe downtown residents have a combined $32 million to spend and not enough choices downtown to spend it on.

Business owner Nancy Baker said she’s a “big advocate of people coming to downtown.” The success of her downtown art gallery depends on it, and her shop is the type of thing the city is hoping to see more of.

“I think it will change. It has to change. People are moving downtown here [and] they will demand places like this, hopefully,” Baker said.

With a growing residential population in the area, Economic Specialist Paul Reimel with the Downtown Raleigh Alliance is focused on recruiting a diverse mix of retailers, not just bars and restaurants.

A recent study indicated there is a clear need for more shops downtown. Reimel says a diverse mix of new stores can cash in on nearly $32 million of unmet consumer demand.

The city is hoping shoppers will break their habits and head to the downtown area instead of a mall.

The Downtown Raleigh Alliance and Chamber of Commerce also plan to take a trip to Charlotte at the end of January. The goal is to see how that city has attempted to incorporate retail into its downtown area.


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  • happymom Jan 5, 2008

    Guess what built that city (Houston)? It was, gasp, those evil oil companies.

    Yep, they are famous for supporting liberal causes. It makes no sense to think downtown revitalization is a "liberal" cause. Having a vibrant downtown can be a boon to the economy. Unfortunately, Raleigh doesn't seem to have a coherent plan to do this. The problem seems to have less to do with liberals or the free market and more to do with poor city planning.

  • something2say Jan 5, 2008

    If I was a business owner, I would have to consider how I could affort to run my business and if I could pay my employees enough that they could afford the parking. The truth is people don't want to work downtown and pay a good chunk of change just to park! Parking needs to be addressed before the city sees any business growth there!

  • colliedave Jan 5, 2008

    really enjoyed going downtown in the famously "liberal" city of Houston. Since it was in the very liberal state of Texas, I guess the investment in the downtowns of Texas cities was to be expected.

    Guess what built that city? It was, gasp, those evil oil companies.

  • happymom Jan 5, 2008

    I really enjoyed going downtown in the famously "liberal" city of Houston. Since it was in the very liberal state of Texas, I guess the investment in the downtowns of Texas cities was to be expected.

    Too bad Raleigh's downtown isn't as interesting for me or my family.

    P.S. Dr.J: your comment about this being a liberal issue doesn't hold water and is one of the silliest I've read today.

  • jackadoo Jan 5, 2008

    PS the $5 dollar parking fee is not worth dying for.

  • jackadoo Jan 5, 2008

    Raleigh has some very vibrant in-town areas....Five Points, Cameron, around Charlie GNights, around Logans, and the Oaks area immediately come to mind. This DT area is awash with homeless people, beggers, thieves, and drugs. Ever wonder why most of the sheltors and half-way houses are there? I worked there 20 years until recently. The city had to put dividers on the city benches to keep people from sleeping on them. I am not unsympathetic to their plight, I am just a realist. That dog dont hunt. South Raleigh is the source of the problem, not "downtown".
    A friend of mine, was abducted and killed at the PGN parking lot at 7 am. a couple of years ago. Her only crime was going to work early to avoid the traffic. You know who she is (was).

  • Polly Jan 5, 2008

    I'm like several of you-I don't see this as a liberal/conservative issue at all; it's pure American capitalism, supply and demand. I am a native of Wake County and remember when Fayetteville Street was a street before a mall. I don't think downtown will ever be the hub that it was in the 1950's but it could definitely use some more stores w/ in walking distance of all these condos they're building. Seaboard Station is really nice and those developers totally revamped Halifax Court. It's not, however, realistically walking distance with a load of groceries to Fayetteville St.

  • colliedave Jan 5, 2008

    and let's try and give it support and suck it up and pay $5 to park in a garage and enjoy it.

    Why would I want to pay $5 to park when I can park at the mall or shopping center for nothing? Typical liberal drivel.

  • rand321 Jan 5, 2008

    The cost of opening and running a business downtown is very expensive. Even a new business in a prime location takes a while before the sales and profits are enough to support the overhead or the breakeven point. For an independent business without a big corporate treasury to pay the bills, makes it very hard for an individual to finance this money losing period.

    it would take a lot more than 3000 or even 25000 residents to make a non food/beverage business viable there. It would take a big retail center, like the Brier Creek to create the critcal mass for a number of retailers. Not sure if downtown residents would dare support big development.

    Until then, there are some great shops and a great grocery at the Seaboard station area. This is worth a trip from North Raleigh or Cary to go to.

  • ericsgrowing Jan 5, 2008

    I dont think this is a liberal issue.. Why wouldn't people want a city they live in to have a vibrant downtown?? The best cities in the world all have a vibrant downtown/city. It will only help the local economy out!