Local News

Local Leaders Look To Revitalize Fayetteville Street Mall

Posted November 28, 2000 6:00 a.m. EST

— Raleigh's Fayetteville Street has been a pedestrian mall since the early 1970s. Some people say reopening the mall to traffic is the key to a creating a thriving downtown business district.

Paul Forehand has been selling hot dogs on the Fayetteville Street Mall for seven years. He is up for any idea that brings more customers past his cart.

"I'd love to have more people wandering around down here. It'd increase my business tremendously," he says. "Most of the restaurants here close by 4 p.m. They might as well close by 3 p.m. because the traffic has fallen off quite a bit."

Some local leaders think they can bring more people to the mall by reopening Fayetteville Street to traffic, like it was years ago. Developer Smedes York suggests turning it into a two-lane road, with diagonal parking outside the storefronts like at Raleigh's Cameron Village.

"The market is really coming back to downtown, and the real estate market is strong close in. We just need this to happen," he says.

City officials are studying proposals that would open the mall to traffic, but some leaders are reluctant to turn the brick-paved walkway into blacktop.

"I'm not a big fan of that," says city councilman Benson Kirkland. "Some people say we need front-door parking. You're not going to get front-door parking. You're going to get loading zones."

Some Raleigh residents want to keep the mall just like it is. Craig Leak works downtown and enjoys the pedestrian-friendly atmosphere.

"I like being able to eat my hot dog and listen to the guy playing jazz over there and walking and eating," he says.

What happens at Fayetteville Street Mall could hinge on the future of the old Hudson Belk building. Some of the developers who are interested want to reopen the mall to traffic.