Local News

Merchants: Business Traffic Slow on Fayetteville Street

Posted May 4, 2007 11:04 p.m. EDT
Updated May 4, 2007 11:34 p.m. EDT

— When Fayetteville Street reopened to traffic last summer, some business owners thought profits would pick up. Instead, some merchants say, progress has been slow, and they would like to know why.

While Raleigh's new main street continues to attract visitors after dark, the fanfare surrounding the reopening of the street a year ago has fallen off, which merchants say isn't good for business.

"It's frustrating to see a lot of progress but not much happening," said Mikhail Jannik, who runs coffeehouse Crema on Fayetteville Street.

"We thought it would have moved a whole lot faster than it has," said Carter Powell, the owner of Fayetteville Street Tavern.

City officials point to plenty of construction downtown as a sign of progress. But they admit it will take time to get past the growing pains.

"We're working on bringing more retail to the street," Raleigh Planning Director Mitchell Silver said. "We're starting to see more storefronts being renovated, the RBC Plaza under construction, now the (convention center Marriott) hotel is out of the ground. It will have a restaurant on the ground floor and a coffee shop in the corner."

Eventually, Silver said, up to 60,000 square feet of retail space will be developed downtown. This week, the city signed off on drawings for a new City Plaza, he said.

But business owners said they're ready to see plans move off the drawing board and become reality.

"It'll be nice to start seeing a lot of these things coming to fruition and not like, 'It's going to be here. It's going to be here,'" Jannik said. "It's a big hurry up and wait."

Jannik and Powell agreed that, once the construction is finished, they expect more traffic and activity downtown. They also said they hope for more block parties on Fayetteville Street, like the return of the Raleigh Wide Open Celebration and the Live After 5 concerts that used to be on the Fayetteville Street Mall before moving to Glenwood South.

"Being patient is the name of the game. That's all you can do," Powell said.