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Merchants seek upgrades to Hillsborough Street

Posted September 30, 2008

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— Merchants along Hillsborough Street are using a new business improvement district as a launch pad for ideas they think would make the area better.

"My belief is that Hillsborough Street is potentially the best street in North Carolina," said Alan Lovette, who owns Melvin's, a burger joint.

The merchants have assembled a wish list for the area from St. Mary's Street near downtown to Meredith College near the Interstate 440 Beltline.

"The most important thing is parking," Lovette said.

Another item on the list is a 100-foot buffer around the North Carolina State University campus to keep beggars away.

"(We want) to get rid of panhandling. It will create a safer environment for students and our customers," Lovette said.

The group also wants to bring concerts to the university and to create a huge sign to let people know about events.

"(We need to) show people what's here and why they need to come back," said Jenn Halweil, an N.C. State student who is heading Hillsborough Street Renaissance, a green arts and music festival proposed for next spring.

"The street just doesn't have the feel like it's lively," Halweil said.

The City Council still needs to approve plans to close several blocks of Hillsborough Street for the festival, which organizers said would build ties between students, families and professionals in the area.

"This is going to be the place you want to go to interact with your peers and others," N.C. State student William McGuire said.

The merchants' wish list also includes:

  • Decisions on where parking meters will be located along Hillsborough Street and rules for enforcement
  • A designated valet-parking station
  • A sign directing drivers from Cameron Village to Hillsborough Street
  • A kiosk for announcing neighborhood events
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  • Titus Pullo Oct 1, 2008

    Oh baby, turn Hillsborough into a river.....we need a river....I like that idea. And, and maybe a big fountain, with a roundabout roud about it. And how about a light rail right down the middle of the river -- it could run almost to the end, but not quite far enough....

  • foetine Sep 30, 2008

    They've tried their hardest on that street. Remember when the Electric Company Mini-mall was going to cause the boom? And then a couple other places? But what is it? Pizza, burger and bagel joints with a couple bars thrown in. it's a downscale zone. The folks on the street don't have the money to pay for Mint Menu items. You can't go Rodeo Drive when your clients are wearing Wrangler jeans.

  • Mitch Sep 30, 2008

    What Raleigh needs is a river running through it. If you build it they will come.

  • butterpie Sep 30, 2008

    Hillsborough Street may not ever be a Franklin Street, but it has quite a bit of potential. There aren't many areas in Raleigh that could have as much pedestrian appeal. I think there's a gem of an area hidden there that hasn't found the right formula to bring it to life. Who knows what will do it, but I do hope we hit on it soon. It's one of my favorite areas to visit and dine.

  • foetine Sep 30, 2008

    I remember when NC State banned outdoor concerts after their Wolfstock freak out in the early 90s. Is the campus really up for shutting down Hillsborough Street for a concert? And this is from the university and city that refused to shut down Hillsborough Street after UNC and Duke basketball games - they'd rather hire hundreds of cops to keep the kids on the sidewalks.

    And there's not that many businesses on Hillsborough Street to make this worth that much effort. Over 70 percent of the Street is controlled by NC State. The street has never had the same level of action like Franklin Street. The gateway to downtown Raleigh? Really? I think Western Blvd does the same task. Along with Capitol Blvd and New Bern.

  • Jimmy187 Sep 30, 2008

    "My belief is that Hillsborough Street is potentially the best street in North Carolina ----- you have to be kidding me. This is not a project that should be a priority for our city.

  • kevboom Sep 30, 2008

    What happened to all the promised roundabouts that were supposed to go in over the summer for traffic calming? Seems those were promised last spring, and a couple years before that, and a couple years before that, and a couple years before that, and on and on and on. The city is not serious about cleaning up the great blight that is Hillsborough Street. All talk, no action. EVER.

  • colliedave Sep 30, 2008

    The group also wants to bring concerts to the university and to create a huge sign to let people know about events.

    and how will this sign get past the City of Raleigh's sign ordinace?

  • chivegas Sep 30, 2008

    At least they aren't still talking about roundabouts...