Downtown Raleigh businesses taking down plywood after last year’s riots; many optimistic for future

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Remnants of last year’s protests and riots in downtown Raleigh are slowly being removed.

“I hope that it means moving forward, in general, you know. We’ll be in a better place not only economically, but socially,” said Ebonee Collins, who works in downtown Raleigh.

Instead of bracing for protests, business owners are beginning to take down the plywood barriers they put up to protect their storefronts.

Some businesses had their windows broken and were looted during protests.

“Last year was really disappointing to see everything boarded up, the paint all over the place,” said Greg Czaruk, who came in from out of state to visit his son. “It’s kind of refreshing to see some life coming back.”

Carla Chirico tells CBS 17 it’s starting to look and feel more like an actual downtown again.

“There’s definitely a spirited energy, which makes Raleigh so unique. Lots of foot traffic, businesses are opening back up,” said Chirico, who lives downtown.

Between the pandemic and protests, some businesses didn’t survive or chose to leave. But there are new ones popping up.

Black Friday, a small department store that features small businesses, recently opened in the former Apex Outfitters storefront on Hargett Street.

“I think we went into it with a clear mind and pretty much just hoping for the best. And it’s been going pretty well,” said manager Jasmine Bullock.

“I definitely hope a lot more businesses pop up and we’re able to build downtown back up to the way it was,” Bullock said.

In order to do that, Raleigh Mayor Mary Ann Baldwin tells CBS 17 every business will have to remove the plywood sheets.

“We have to make downtown welcoming and make people feel good about coming back,” she said about revitalizing the downtown.

“I think that businesses will need to take down their plywood to comply with our zoning codes. Obviously, last year was an exception. But we would like to see all businesses remove their boards and do so quickly,” Baldwin added.

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