Local News

Moore Square to get millions for makeover

Posted May 6, 2014 3:10 p.m. EDT
Updated May 6, 2014 7:53 p.m. EDT

— Efforts to revitalize Moore Square in downtown Raleigh got a boost Tuesday after city leaders agreed to raise millions of dollars needed for the project.

City Council unanimously approved a plan to move forward with a bond sale that would raise the estimated $12.7 million needed to revamp the 4-acre park, which sits across from several restaurants, a bus center and the Marbles Kids Museum. Despite its prime location, the park lacks amenities, except for a few benches, and is often frequented by transients and the homeless.

Plans to give the park a makeover began five years ago but stalled because of a lack of funds.

"I think, after a lot of effort, we can demonstrate Moore Square has vital importance to our city," Councilman Wayne Maiorano said. "There’s a very compelling economic development justification for these improvements as well as a quality of life justification."

Council members did not earmark an exact amount of money for the project and said leftover funds from the bond sale should be used to help other city parks.

“I will support that, however, I’m still concerned about the amount of funds,” Councilman Thomas Crowder said. “I think the tune of $15 million, even $12 million, is problematic. I would like to see us consider about half of that. It’s beyond me why we need to spend so much money to have a first-rate park experience in Moore Square.”

Council members also did not commit to a design plan, although ideas are not in short supply.

Just ask Brian Battistella, who owns an eponymous restaurant that faces the park and the nearby City Market. He said the park needs to be cleaner and more family friendly. An “upscale twist” on the space would also be a positive change, or maybe some regular live music.

“I think we need to give it a try,” he said. “It’s kind of run down."

Battistella pointed to the relocation of the downtown farmer’s market from Moore Square to Fayetteville Street as another reason the park needs a revival.

“If they would put a little effort on this side of town like they did not Fayetteville Street, it would benefit everybody,” he said.

Designs drawn up years ago included restrooms and a cafe, but since the park is state-owned property, the city would have to get clearance to put any buildings on the property.

Residents are invited to offer comment on the bond sale during a public hearing set for 1 p.m. on May 20, in the council chamber at 222 W. Hargett St. The sale would also raise $2.7 million for a new fire station on Fairview Road.