Local News

Growth Continues to Thrive in Downtown Raleigh

Posted December 28, 2007 6:33 p.m. EST
Updated December 28, 2007 9:20 p.m. EST

— Raleigh's downtown is in a growth spurt with more development planned for next year.

Floye Dombalis' family has operated a downtown restaurant since 1930. From the Mecca Restaurant, she has seen downtown thrive, die and begin again. She is excited about the changes coming to downtown.

"I think it's wonderful for the next generation," Dombalis said.

The Mecca Restaurant plans to expand its hours and open weekends to accommodate the influx of folks coming downtown.

Several major projects under construction will be finishing next year.

"There will be a lot of people on the street. There will be new retailers, people will be excited to be downtown," said John Hogan of Highwoods Properties.

Among those new projects is the RBC Plaza on Fayetteville Street. It will be the headquarters for RBC Centura Bank, a law firm, condos and shops. The plaza is expected to bring 1,000 people to downtown when it opens next fall.

"It will be the tallest building in Raleigh, 33 stories," Hogan said.

"I gotta tell you, it's a very significant year for us and Wake County," said Denny Edwards, president and chief executive officer for the Greater Raleigh Convention and Business Bureau.

The largest and perhaps the most anticipated publicly-funded project is the Raleigh Convention Center.

The $228-million project will feature more than 500,000 square feet of space, 19 meeting rooms, an exhibit hall and a ballroom. The convention center is slated to open in October.

One-hundred forty-three conventions are already scheduled. Every convention is excepted to bring about 900 people to downtown for an average visit of four days.

In addition to the convention center, 326 condos have gone up downtown since 2005; at least 1,594 condos are either under construction or in the planning stages, according to Downtown Raleigh Alliance.

Almost 600 of those condos are expected to be finished next year, bringing about 1,000 people downtown.

In October, plans were also approved for a 23-story mix of retail shops, a hotel and condominiums at the corner of Dawson and Hillsborough streets.

Attorney Ted Reynolds is developing the $65 million project, which will include 17,500 square feet of retail space, a 136-room hotel and 26 condos on the top floors.

Other high-rises planned downtown include The Lafayette at Lenoir and Salisbury streets and the twin-towered Edison at Wilmington and Martin streets. All of the towers are mixed-use projects.

It is anticipated to be an even bigger push next year for more stores downtown. City leaders said shopping is especially important for a downtown area to thrive.