Local News

Mayors Offer Raleigh Downtown Revitalization Advice

Posted January 18, 2002 12:36 p.m. EST

— Downtown Raleigh has a growing skyline, but tall buildings alone will not draw more visitors and residents to town.

Raleigh leaders learned how to make that happen from a pair of mayors from two neighboring states.

Thursday, the mayors of Greenville, South Carolina and Richmond, Virginia were invited to Raleigh to tell city leaders how they have successfully revitalized their downtowns.

Richmond has undertaken a major upgrade of the convention center it built 10 years ago.

"We've hedged our bet. We've hedged our future on that convention center -- not just the city of Richmond, but the entire region has," Richmond Mayor Rudolph McCollum said.

Making itself a more walkable city has drawn more visitors and residents to Greenville.

"In our downtown, we have wide sidewalks. We have as many as 50 restaurants with outside dining in the downtown area, lots of trees, lots of beautification and landscaping, art in public places and things like that," Mayor Knox White said.

The mayors said that executing the plan to improve the city is the easy part. They said that the tough part is the first step: Coming up with a shared, group vision on how downtown Raleigh can grow and change.

McCollum and White agreed that another key to a downtown rebirth is public-private partnerships. They said that it may sound like an overused buzzword, but they warn if existing businesses do not buy into the downtown plan, it will not work.