Local News

Plans To Re-Open 'Fayetteville Street' Mall Gain Momentum

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Momentum for opening Raleigh's Fayetteville Street mall is growing after Monday's vote by the city budget committee.

City leaders have mapped out what kind of changes they want to make, now they have to figure out how to pay for it. The total price tag for opening the mall would be between $5 and $8 million.

The city council is suggesting that the mall be reopened as a two-way street with either parallel or diagonal parking on either side. One lane of traffic would move in each direction.

Would opening the of the Fayetteville Street Mall to traffic make you more likely to go downtown? Yes No Maybe Three blocks of the mall in front of the convention center would be be paved over. The block in front of the convention center would be left alone.

That is because there is a study under way about the future of the convention center -- whether the city should renovate the existing building or build a new one.

The changes cannot happen soon enough for restaurant owner Dario Cattarinich. His restaurant serves 90 customers a night on the weekends, but during the week, he might seat six.

"Downtown is the place to go for work. They come here at lunchtime and mornings, then they leave after five. They don't want to come back here," he said.

Other people said they would miss the atmosphere of Fayetteville Street Mall.

"I love the idea of parking in front of businesses. I'm in a parking deck right now and more parking would be great," said Courtney Hathaway who works downtown. "It would be really sad to lose this district. This is a great part of historic downtown Raleigh. I love this area."

Council members said that they want to hold a public hearing to get more input.

On Monday, the committee voted to hire a full-time city employee, at $100,000 a year, to create a design plan for the mall. Construction could begin as soon early as the fall if the city can find enough money.

"It's within the realm of possibility," said Mayor Charles Meeker. "The likelihood is that the city would finance it over three to five years and I'd assume we'd ask Wake County to be involved. So it would actually be a small amount per year, but we really haven't addressed that. We have a lot of work to do there."

Progress Energy, which already has a building on the mall, recently announced plans to develop a complex of offices, retail and condo space. It offered to let the city use its design consulting team for some of the Fayetteville Street Mall work.

The city also hopes to get more money from the county and state and through private donations.