Local News

Tech firm expected to be catalyst for Raleigh's Warehouse District

Posted September 12, 2014 4:17 p.m. EDT
Updated September 12, 2014 7:01 p.m. EDT

— After more than a year of construction, cloud-computing provider Citrix is relocating its local operations this month to downtown Raleigh's Warehouse District – a move that downtown advocates say will be a catalyst in revitalizing the historic area and attracting businesses and a younger generation of employees.

"It's like when a mall gets an anchor department store, the Warehouse District is getting an anchor company, and it's going to have a ripple effect throughout the whole area," said David Diaz, president and chief executive officer of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, a nonprofit that works to enhance living and business in the downtown area.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company announced in 2012 its decision to move into the old Dillon Supply Warehouse at 120 S. West St., a 130,000-square-foot space that will house at least 600 well-paid young employees who, Diaz says, will want to shop and dine in the area.

"We think that's going to have an immediate impact," Diaz said, adding that Citrix brings a company philosophy and culture that is unique.

"Not all technology companies see themselves as community revitalizers," he added. "Not so with Citrix. Citrix is very community-oriented. They see themselves as part of the revitalization of downtown."

Businesses in the neighborhood are excited not only by what the future holds, but also what's happening now.

Adam Eckhardt, co-owner of Crank Arm Brewery on West Davie Street, said Citrix is already earning a reputation for itself as a good neighbor.

Several weeks ago, it brought over employees to the bar.

"They've been very friendly and open, trying to let people know who they are," Eckhardt said.

Five Star restaurant, on West Hargett Street, is across the street from Citrix.

"It's just nice to have people walking around," owner Michelle Bender said. "This is the first time we've been able to open for lunch, because before, we were so far off the beaten path."

Diaz says he thinks the age of Citrix's employees – the average is 27 – will also play an important role in attracting new businesses to the area.

"Our downtown is going to get a lot younger, and it's going to feel a lot younger," Diaz said. "That age is going to bring about a certain kind of new retail, new restaurants and more companies, and it's going to be interesting to see how that plays out."

With local and national retailers – including a life sciences group looking to expand – already expressing interest to move into the area, Diaz says he believes there will be a more visible transformation within the next three years.

Construction on the 34,000-square-foot Union Station is also set to begin next year on West Martin Street. When complete in 2017, it will replace the old Amtrak station, which is the second busiest rail terminal in the Southeast.

Diaz says he expects to see more buildings being purchased, more development of new buildings and more restoration of existing buildings.

"You can bet that all those buildings in the Warehouse District that are not restored or maybe vacant – a lot of people are asking and seeing how much they can pay for it to buy it," he said.