Raleigh leaders say the number of businesses moving into rental space on a Fayetteville Street since its reopening to vehicular traffic in July is well beyond their expectations.
When the four blocks of street reopened eight months ago, there were 12 ground-level lease spaces available, according to the Downtown Raleigh Alliance. Now, there are only four -- each going at about $23 per square foot. One developer told WRAL that for what is left, the cost will be about $15,000 per month.
"It also invigorates the street. What we're looking for is that it's bringing in various kinds of retails down there that we can offer our employees, as well as our residents," said Tracey Lovejoy with the Alliance. "But that's phenomenal, if you think about it, in any urban downtown environment."
The new spaces have been filled with everything from the Opera Company of North Carolina to restaurants.
"Right now, you're starting to see a lot more foot traffic, a lot more people -- hence, our lunches right now, we're on a waiting list as soon as we open the doors," said Yancy's restaurant general manager Allen Phillips.
Phillips said the increased business has made it easier to deal with other construction going on in the area, such as the RBC Plaza.
"During the day, you can hear the banging and clanging," Phillips said. "But they're accelerating and doing pretty good. And I think within a year or year and a half, it will be a great payoff."
While most agree things are going well, Mayor Charles Meeker has high expectations and says there is room for improvement.
"I always like to see things move more quickly," he said. "But frankly, Fayetteville Street's doing extremely well. There are four or five restaurants operating in the area, some clubs at night, and another six or eight storefronts being renovated, so things really are coming along."
Reopening the four-block area of Fayetteville Street was a 16-month, $9.3 million project. More than $400 million is being invested on the one street alone -- including $94 million in public funds on the street itself and the rest in private funding for mixed-use developments and other projects.
The new Fayetteville Street marks the beginning of change in the downtown area. Work is also under way to build a new state-of-the art 550,000-sqare-foot convention center, a 1,500-space parking garage and a four-star luxury Marriott Hotel. They are expected to open in 2008.