Through nature, art and community engagement, Floraffiti™ will bring inspiration, surprise and collaboration to downtown Raleigh this spring. Led by the artist Carter Hubbard, community volunteers will plant seeds outlining words in downtown mulch beds. Seeds will sprout in June to reveal inspirational words from the Downtown Plan such as Move, Breathe, Innovate and Amplify. Floraffiti™ has blossomed over the past five years in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. The Downtown Raleigh Alliance is excited to partner with Carter Hubbard to expand the public art project to downtown Raleigh in 2018.
In 2015, the City of Raleigh and the Downtown Raleigh Alliance partnered to create a 10-year plan for Downtown Raleigh, building upon the successes and providing a map for guiding growth and development in downtown. The words for downtown Raleigh’s Floraffiti are taken from and inspired by the Downtown Plan. The words can speak to anyone but specifically resonate from the vision of Downtown Raleigh’s future as described in the plan.
The Downtown Plan seeks to improve park spaces, provide more transportation options, maintain authenticity and character, create a robust retail environment, improve affordable housing options and establish stronger partnerships for downtown’s future. Many of these initiatives are underway or planned.
Floraffiti 5K Route
Active refers the Downtown Plan framework theme, “Move,” which focuses on the need to make walking, biking and transit the preferred ways to get in and around downtown.
With a high walk score of 96, Downtown Raleigh is already the most walkable part of the Triangle. Improvements have recently been and continue to be made to improve options to get in and around downtown. Bike Share will roll-out this summer (2018) with 30 stations and 300 bikes. To support biking as a way to get around, Raleigh boasts 58 miles of bike lanes and 112 miles of greenway with more greenway additions planned for downtown in the future. Additionally, to expand public transit options, 20 miles of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) are planned for the future. Add reference to West Street Cycle track.
Raleigh’s wide range of music and performing arts venues adds to the vibrancy, creativity and richness of the downtown experience.
The Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts hosts over 600 events annually with over 400,000 attendees. Through its concerts, Red Hat Amphitheater brings together over 100,000 annually, with attendance increasing almost 25% in the past four years. Additionally, Downtown Raleigh’s smaller clubs and venues such as The Lincoln Theatre, Pour House Music Hall, Kings, Slim’s, The Stag’s Head, Deep South The Bar, C Grace and recently-announced Tin Roof coming to Glenwood South offer more intimate live music experiences.
Pockets of greenery and flowers contribute to a healthy, more beautiful downtown. With the Downtown Plan, urban greenspaces and beautification will extend and better integrate throughout downtown neighborhoods.
A catalytic project of the plan, Glenwood Green will create a new urban park at Devereux Meadows (alongside Capital Blvd, across Peace St) and seek to add more greenspace throughout the district, as well as an improved block pattern created by the Peace Street Bridge replacement. Moore Square and Nash Square are also key focus areas of the Downtown Plan. Moore Square is currently under renovation with plans to reopen in 2019. A design study, to be followed by implementation, will re-envision Nash Square as an urban green that supports the growth of the Warehouse and Fayetteville Street Districts and strengthen their connection.
One of the Downtown Plans four framework themes, “Breathe” focuses on creating public open spaces where people can pause and breathe, gather and relax within the city.
Sometimes referred to as the "lungs" of a city, public open spaces, including urban parks, greenways, plazas and squares, play a critical role in downtown. Currently there are 10 parks and over 100 acres of public park space within 1 mile of downtown! And over 322 acres of new park land is being added in the downtown area, including Dix Park and Devereux Meadows.
Thoughtful, intentional and inclusive development helps to ensure vibrant, healthy and diverse communities.
In the past three years, downtown’s population has increased 35% and downtown’s housing supply will nearly double when the current development pipeline is completed over the next couple of years. With 8,500 downtown residents and 16,900 living within one mile of the center of downtown, downtown has grown tremendously and continues to grow with an estimated 11,000 people living downtown by 2022. With growth comes challenge and opportunity. An action item of the Downtown Plan is to ensure downtown has a diversity of housing opportunities at different price points and to partner with non-profits to address homelessness and secure housing for the homeless population.
Strong partnerships between institutional, public and private sectors are essential to bring downtown's shared vision to life – a key point of the fourth framework theme of “Link.”
The $88 million Raleigh Union Station, part of a catalytic project in the downtown plan, is a great example of public and private sectors coming together on a major development. The project speaks to Link or Connect in a partnership sense as well as in a literal sense, better connecting downtown to the region, with 37 miles commuter rail planned.
Downtown Raleigh’s vibrant and active arts community greatly contributes to the character, vitality and strength of downtown.
With over 20 art galleries and institutions downtown, $167 million was spent last year by arts and cultural groups in Raleigh, more than double the median amount for similar-sized cities, and generated $532 million for the local economy. Raleigh also hosts signature arts festivals and events including First Friday, Artsplosure and SPARKcon that over 180,000 people attended in 2017.
With its strongly local and unique shopping and dining scene, Downtown offers opportunities for residents, employees and visitors to continually discover something new.
With 94% of downtown stores locally-owned and over 100 retailers, downtown offers shopping and an experience not found anywhere else. Additionally, three grocery stores, Saxapahaw General Store, Publix and Weaver Street Market, will open in the near future adding to the retail mix downtown. Additionally, downtown boasts a strong, locally-owned dining scene that continues to grow. Fifty-one restaurants have opened since the start of 2016 with 24 of them opening in 2017. Food and beverage sales have risen 95% since 2009!
Explore speaks to “Stay,” one of the Downtown Plan's four framework themes, emphasizing the importance of a culturally rich and dynamic downtown.
STAY highlights the key idea to realize downtown's potential as a dynamic city-center neighborhood anchoring tourism, entertainment, and culture while ensuring all are welcome through strategic growth and redevelopment. Downtown Raleigh is a center of creativity, arts, museums and events with 3.4M visitors to downtown’s top 12 attractions in 2017, including the NC Museum of Natural Science, Marbles Kids Museum, Raleigh Convention Center, and NC Museum of History – all within a short walk of one another!
Growing Raleigh's greenway network and improving connections is a goal of the Downtown Plan under the “Breathe” framework theme.
The upcoming Devereux Meadows Park will include a new leg of the greenway along Pigeon House Creek, while the Rosengarten Greenway will extend from near Dix Park through the southwestern corner of downtown. In between these new greenways, the West Street Cycle Track will be a pilot protected bike facility project to improve downtown’s non-motorized connectivity.
Innovation is at the core, it's the foundation, of Downtown Raleigh and the Downtown Plan.
Innovation speaks to the people, the businesses, the community now and the future from transportation to parks to infrastructure. Downtown Raleigh is a hub for arts, innovation and creativity - an economic engine for the region. DTR provides the physical spaces and places to support the activities of entrepreneurs, artists and businesses large and small. The streets, buildings and public realm of downtown are the spaces for integrating nature and environmental stewardship into the urban environment, using the latest innovations in transportation and green infrastructure.
Inspiration leads to creation. Diverse people coming together with different ideas can inspire and foster innovation, often leading to economic growth.
Raleigh’s co-working spaces are booming with a 442% increase from 2015 to 2019 with recent and under construction space. The mix and blending of people, ideas and skills helps accelerate growth and innovation for many start-ups, as they serve as inspiration for others.
Parks and public spaces of all shapes and sizes are essential for a healthy, vibrant downtown.
Though new green and public spaces will come to downtown, there’s opportunity to reposition and refurbish existing parks and greenspaces. The newly renovated Market and Exchange plazas between Fayetteville St and S Wilmington St provide uniquely designed spaces to read a book, take a call, eat your lunch or simply relax.
The new Moore Square Park, opening in 2019, will offer programs and activities for young and old alike to learn, connect and play.
The Moore Square Master Plan repositions the park for the next generation of park users and will better attract new development to the Moore Square district. The $12.6 million renovation of one of Raleigh’s original, historic squares will provide a beautifully enhanced, world-class public space downtown.
Downtown’s strong talent pipeline and employment base supports new business and business growth and positions Raleigh as a hub for technology and innovation.
Raleigh boasts five institutions of higher learning with 40,000 students within 3 miles of downtown. Raleigh also has a much larger share of STEM graduates (over 35%) when compared to the US average of 15%. Forty-seven percent of downtown Raleigh residents 25 years and older have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to the national average of 31%. This strength in both the talent pipeline and employment base is attractive to companies considering relocation to or expansions in downtown.
Encouraging walking as the preferred means to get around and improving the pedestrian experience is a key initiative of the Downtown Plan.
Walking and biking will not only alleviate parking strains but also improve individuals’ and the community’s health. Urban greenways, bike lanes and creative uses of public art are ways to encourage walking and biking. But ensuring clean and safe sidewalks is also essential and a focus of the DRA and City of Raleigh. As part of the Downtown Plan, several one-way streets have already and others will be converted to two-way traffic to help promote a safer and more pleasant pedestrian experience.
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