Interest Grows As Planners Push To Fill Fayetteville Street Storefronts
Posted July 19, 2005 7:19 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — The future of Fayetteville Street is taking shape. Once construction is complete, the street will open again to vehicle traffic and will look more like it did decades ago.
Construction or not, for some people, Fayetteville Street already spells success.
From digging outside to sanding inside, there is a lot of work being done to the area.
While Fayetteville Street Mall is transformed back into a street, Steve Hunt is transforming an old Eckerd drug store into a New Orleans-style restaurant and bar.
"With the renovation of the street, we are thinking it will blow up just like Glenwood South has," Hunt says. "The potential is there and we are really excited about it."
Hunt and his partners are the first group to sign a lease since construction on the mall started. They also are the first to receive a low-interest loan to help open a business on the new Fayetteville Street.
When construction began, the vacancy rate on the mall was 40 percent. The city hopes to cut that in half by the time the street opens.
The interest already being shown leads the city to believe it can get empty storefronts filled.
The new leader of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance says it is all about selling a vision, not only to potential businesses, but also to customers.
"If we go out and give them a little at a time, it won't have the true impact of the change we are having happen in downtown Raleigh," says Nancy Hormann, of the Alliance.
The change for Raleigh's new main street is expected to come in the way of eateries first, and then retail.
Hunt says he plans to be out in front.
"I think everybody in town is talking about it," Hunt says.
He hopes to open in October -- seven months before the scheduled opening of Fayetteville Street.
The City Council held a public hearing Monday on a $10 million bond proposed to fund the second phase of Fayetteville Street construction. The money will extend the project to Lenoir Street.
Construction will begin this fall after the old convention center is demolished.