A new plan in the works may push the city in that direction a little faster.
Many people have their own reasons for avoiding downtown Raleigh like concerns over parking, safety, cleanliness and just getting around.
"Chapel Hill or various other places that I'd rather go with more restaurants, more shopping, more things to do," said downtown visitor Matt Spangler.
There's a plan to attract more people and businesses downtown; it's the creation of a business improvement district.
"A business improvement district is really pulling together all the property owners in downtown," said Errol Frailey, Downtown Raleigh Alliance executive director.
The district would increase downtown's traditional boundaries, branching out to Shaw University, the Warehouse District, Glenwood South, Smokey Hollow and Peace College.
Everyone in the district would pay a tax in return for more security patrols and cleanup crews.
For small businesses the tax would be between $60 and $100 dollars a year, not a problem for one architect who moved downtown three years ago.
"Putting on a better face on the street, of course, improves the property values down here, and that's a real return on our investment," said architect Kurt Eichenberger.
Nix Designs had its doubts about the tax, but now it's on board.
In Glenwood South, the owner of the Northern Star Deli worries the business improvement district could erase the identities of certain city neighborhoods.
"I think it just makes the city a little more nicer to have, to break it down into little districts," said deli owner Andrew Warren.
For the most part, the business improvement district is getting a pretty good reception.
The Downtown Raleigh Alliance says a third of the property owners have already signed off on the plan.
The ultimate approval for the idea must come from city council, which is expected to take up the issue next month.
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