Local News

Downtown Raleigh residents decry loitering, panhandling, 'riff-raff'

Posted August 21, 2012 3:39 p.m. EDT
Updated August 21, 2012 7:19 p.m. EDT

2012 Downtown Raleigh Skyline

— Business owners and residents in the Moore Square area met with the City of Raleigh on Tuesday, trying to come up with ways to address loitering, panhandling and bus congestion in the Moore Square District.

The area of South Wilmington Street between East Hargett and East Martin streets has been bustling with new shops, restaurants and bars, but there have been growing pains, especially around the Moore Square Transit Station.

“I love downtown Raleigh. It’s a thriving growing area of Raleigh,” said David Fowle, owner of Wilmoore Café. “But what you have is a little bit of what I call ‘riff-raff’ that sneaks in with it and hangs out.”

Fowle says buses back up in front his business on Wilmington Street during rush hour, making for dangerous, congested situations. Riders getting off at Moore Square Transit Station walk through the Wilmoore courtyard to transfer to those backed-up buses.

Raleigh transit administrator David Eatman says it's a complicated issue with a lot of factors. “I think the most important thing to realize is that it’s just a lot of activity happening in a very small space,” he said.

Changes to help ease bus congestion are coming, according to Eatman, who says the city plans to juggle some of the bus stops along Wilmington Street. The city also plans to renovate the Moore Square Transit Station in the coming months and possibly add more downtown bus capacity with the planned Union Station project.

Eatman says there are challenges, but they're not necessarily bad. “If we weren't dealing with these issues, that means there's not anything going on,” he said.

As downtown grows, everyone needs to come together to do more, according to Fowle. “We're trying to make downtown better. That's all it is. It's one component,” he said.

City officials said they would take suggestions from Tuesday’s meeting to come up with a broader plan to address problems. The proposed bus route changes would affect the R-Line Downtown Circulator. It would move the stop down the street and add three more stops to the daytime route. The Raleigh City Council will consider the plan at next month's meeting.