Local News

Downtown Raleigh Retail Not Keeping Pace With Residents

Posted January 4, 2008 8:27 p.m. EST
Updated January 4, 2008 8:53 p.m. EST

— About 3,000 people live in downtown Raleigh, and that number is expected to rise. By 2030, the population is projected to be close to 25,000. More rooftops means a need for more retail.

People have flocked to downtown Raleigh to live, but so far, businesses haven’t kept pace.

Experts said they believe downtown residents have a combined $32 million to spend and not enough choices downtown to spend it on.

Business owner Nancy Baker said she’s a “big advocate of people coming to downtown.” The success of her downtown art gallery depends on it, and her shop is the type of thing the city is hoping to see more of.

“I think it will change. It has to change. People are moving downtown here [and] they will demand places like this, hopefully,” Baker said.

With a growing residential population in the area, Economic Specialist Paul Reimel with the Downtown Raleigh Alliance is focused on recruiting a diverse mix of retailers, not just bars and restaurants.

A recent study indicated there is a clear need for more shops downtown. Reimel says a diverse mix of new stores can cash in on nearly $32 million of unmet consumer demand.

The city is hoping shoppers will break their habits and head to the downtown area instead of a mall.

The Downtown Raleigh Alliance and Chamber of Commerce also plan to take a trip to Charlotte at the end of January. The goal is to see how that city has attempted to incorporate retail into its downtown area.