Riverwalk for Raleigh?
City officials are eyeing a piece of land north of downtown for a possible water feature inspired by the Riverwalk in San Antonio and the American Tobacco complex in Durham.Posted — Updated
"Our goal is to really establish Raleigh as an emerging, 21st-century city. We want those special landmarks, those special icons that define this city," Raleigh Planning Director Mitchell Silver said.
A 16-acre site near Capital Boulevard and Peace Street is the prime candidate to have a river run through it. The site now is the home base for Raleigh's fleet of sanitation trucks, but the Solid Waste Services Department is gradually moving the trucks to satellite locations around the city.
The property, which has a creek running parallel to it, could be sold to a developer as early as 2010 or 2011, officials said.
"I think there is a tremendous amount of potential," said City Councilwoman Mary Ann Baldwin, who lives across Capital Boulevard from the site.
"It's one of our gateways into the city. It's almost an embarrassment to me that that's one of the first things they see when they're coming into our downtown," Baldwin said.
Redeveloping the creek into a tourist destination will be a challenge, Silver said, but it can be done.
"It is possible," he said. "(In) San Antonio, it was a drainage basin that they reinvented into a Riverwalk. It's definitely possible engineering-wise of creating a similar element."
The American Tobacco complex, which is owned by WRAL parent Capitol Broadcasting Co., also has a man-made stream running through the middle of the complex of renovated buildings.
Raleigh officials haven't discussed any timeline or price tag for the project, but call it one of the more promising concepts in the long-range plan for downtown. Other possible ideas include a downtown sports venue and revamping the landscaping and design of Capital Boulevard.