Raleigh, N.C. — City planners hope to roll a strike by replacing a former bowling alley on Capital Boulevard with green space that could spur more investment in the area.
Dotted with warehouses, abandoned buildings and nondescript structures, the Capital Boulevard corridor isn't the most attractive gateway into downtown Raleigh. Starting with a stretch just inside the Interstate 440 loop, planners said they want to let the area go back to a "natural state."
"This is an area that's in the floodplain, and it frequently floods," Deputy Planning Director Ken Bowers said Tuesday. "We need the floodplain to do its natural work of cleaning the storm water and providing a place for floodwater to go so it doesn't damage private property."
Crews will raze the former AMF Bowling center at 1827 Capital Blvd., between Fenton Street and Crabtree Boulevard, as well as an access bridge to the center that crosses Pigeon House Creek. The demolition is scheduled to be completed by the end of March.
The city bought the AMF property last year for $1.1 million.
In the future, Bowers said, Raleigh plans to buy and demolish nearby buildings on Capital Boulevard and create a park in the median of the corridor, which would eventually connect the Crabtree Creek Greenway to the north with downtown Raleigh.
The green space will help filter storm water runoff and cleanse Pigeon House Branch, which ranks as Raleigh's most polluted creek, and Bowers said planners envision it sparking redevelopment of the corridor.
"We do think the amenity this will provide will cause a lot of people to look at the corridor much more favorably for new investment," he said. "It'll be a model for green infrastructure, it'll be an economic development project and it'll be a great gateway into downtown Raleigh."
Mark Cabot, the owner of Mission Bungalow, said he supports the city's efforts. His furniture and lighting business has been on Capital Boulevard for about a year.
"You'd like to have it be beautified," Cabot said. "You'd like to see them do this as a gateway (similar to) what you see happening in downtown and Glenwood South."