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City leaders ponder more Hillsborough Street improvements

The creation of a business-improvement district could let property owners take a lead in rejuvenating Hillsborough Street.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — City leaders want to take a fresh look at one of the most talked about – and slowest – projects in the capital: the renovation of Hillsborough Street.

City Council members will debate creating a business-improvement district along Hillsborough Street at a meeting Tuesday.

"People recognize that we need to do something to improve the first impression of Raleigh," Councilwoman Mary Ann Baldwin said.

More than 200 years ago, Hillsborough Street was built as a thoroughfare to the Capitol. It still serves as a gateway to Raleigh, through North Carolina State University.

However, the roadway's highlights include boarded-up buildings, overgrown grass and a maze of power lines.

"It's dirty. Some of the buildings are decrepit," Cup a Joe manager Kim Jones said.

The creation of a business-improvement district would allow property owners to make collective contributions to the maintenance and development of the area. Planners said it could help rejuvenate Hillsborough Street and get rid of some the empty storefronts.

"I think if the city makes its contribution, the private sector will come forward," Baldwin said.

The district would extend nearly 2½ miles from St. Mary's School, a block east of Morgan Street, to Meredith College, near the Interstate 440 Beltline.

Jones expressed some impatience with the pace of rejuvenation efforts by the city, saying conversations about improvements have been going on for nearly five years.

"I don't believe anything that they say they're going to do, because so many things have been said, and nothing's really been done," Jones said.

In October 2007, the City Council approved a street design for Hillsborough Street, including the construction of at least two roundabouts, adding more than 200 on-street parking spaces and burying power lines in a five-block area. The outlines for that plan were first proposed in 1999.

Despite her impatience, Jones said she hopes the city keeps up its efforts.

"It's never too late," she said.


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