Local News

Artists bring new life to vacant downtown Raleigh storefronts

Posted March 1, 2012 5:13 p.m. EST
Updated March 1, 2012 5:58 p.m. EST

— A Raleigh group is bringing new life to vacant storefronts in downtown. 

Beautifying Emerging Spaces Together (BEST) is made up of artists and locals looking to add some flair to the approximately 100 empty storefronts in the city. 

Patrick Shanahan worked Thursday on a mural for the old Raleigh Sandwich Shop building on Wilmington Street. 

"It's just got the energy of somewhere you go grab drinks or grab a sandwich," Shanahan said of the mural. 

BEST organizer Donna Belt said they are at their most creative when things become difficult.

"We look around and see all these buildings and say, 'Wow, what's the possibility in that?'" Belt said. "That's the thing that draws us all together." 

Although about 10 percent of the storefronts downtown are empty now, things are looking better this year, business recruiters say. 

"Each year, we're seeing numbers, a net gain, which is positive, so that's great," said Paul Reimel, spokesman for the Downtown Raleigh Alliance. 

Shanahan's mural on Wilmington Street should be up by the end of the month.

The BEST group is looking at another storefront down the street for a future art installation.