Local News

Businesses Hope to Reap Benefits of Raleigh Wide Open

Posted July 20, 2007 8:44 p.m. EDT

— One year ago, historic Fayetteville Street in Raleigh re-opened to vehicles for the first time in 30 years. Tens of thousands of people jammed the street for the huge celebration.

The anniversary comes on the eve of Saturday’s “Raleigh Wide Open” celebration. Businesses on Fayetteville Street should reap the benefits, but owners WRAL spoke with had varying opinions about the changes.

“We do a good business downtown, and it’s going to be a great business once everything opens up,” said Harvey Yancy, of Yancy’s Jazz.

Most business owners reported improved sales over last year. But some said it would be hard not to improve.

“It was literally like you were in jail for 18 months. We came here every day for almost two years not being able to anything but stare at a fence,” said Danny Nesrallah, of America’s Pita and Grille.

Now, there is more traffic, which means parking is at a premium. One restaurant owner said she has gotten close to $360 in parking tickets on Fayetteville Street alone in the past year.

“Well, there certainly is not enough parking on the street in front of the restaurants. That’s true,” said Mayor Charles Meeker. “But we so have seven or eight parking decks downtown with 5,000 spaces, and there are plenty of spaces there.”

Last year, about 70,000 people turned out for Raleigh Wide Open. Since then, more than 20 private projects have either been planned, begun construction or finished construction. That represents more than $870 million.

“I’m a firm believer of downtown, especially this town,” Yancy said. “I call it a sleeping giant.”

The 100 to 400 blocks were closed to downtown Raleigh traffic at 6 p.m. Friday. The sections of Hargett, Martin and Davie - where they cross Fayetteville Street – also closed. Everything should re-open at 4 a.m. Sunday morning after cleanup is complete.