Local News

Downtown Raleigh: 'Can You Find Me Now?'

Posted July 11, 2007 8:15 p.m. EDT

— For newcomers, for some repeat visitors — even for some people who have lived here for years — it can be tough to navigate downtown Raleigh.

The city is taking steps to make sure the millions of people who visit Raleigh every year can find what they came to see.

"It's a confusing area,” pedestrian Jack Barry said.

Experts won’t argue with him.

"People get really lost downtown," said Elizabeth Alley of the Urban Design Center. "For first-time visitors, it's very easy to get turned around."

Take a sample itinerary: Moore Square to the Capitol and stop by the Courthouse. "If I were not familiar with it, I wouldn't be able to find it," Barry said.

"Once you got off the Beltline, there weren't any wayfinding elements taking you to the downtown area," said Robert Brengman, a senior designer at Corbin Design.

The city paid Brengman and his consulting firm $200,000 to come up with ways to help people find their ways around.

"When we're done and the system is implemented, the No. 1 thing we want to see eliminated is complaints," Brengman said.

The $1.5 million wayfinding project will guide people from the Beltline to downtown, highlighting all the major attractions

"We want people to feel confident in their journey, find parking and feel comfortable as a pedestrian exploring our city," the design center’s Alley said.

The city’s goal is to have the signs approved and in place by the late summer of 2008, just in time for the opening of the new convention center and a nearby hotel.

The design phase of the project is expected to last until August. The city has a Web site that shows the work so far.