RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Owners from several businesses in downtown Raleigh spoke out at a city meeting Tuesday, voicing their concerns over the rise of crime in the area.
Local businesses say the evolving environment downtown is hurting business and keeping people away from Raleigh.
“We need more help. I know they need more officers, we need more security. We need more and more, and we need it now,” said Kim Hammer, who owns Bittersweet in the Fayetteville Street District of downtown, as well as Johnson Street Yacht Club near Glenwood South.
After a decade in business, she says things have gotten much worse in the past nine months.
“My staff has been spit on, my staff has been thrown up against glass windows, my staff has been sexually groped, my staff has been threatened bricks, and they have had their lives threatened on a regular basis, this is a daily thing,” Hammer said.
Just around the corner from Bittersweet, the owner of the Green Monkey says customers have also noticed. The business, which was located on Hillsborough Street for 10 years, recently made the move downtown to South Wilmington Street.
“Thinking I was going to a better space. I was going to a better place, that I would enhance our ‘monkey fan’ experience. But they’re afraid to come. Does that resonate with anybody here?” he said, going on to say that people are afraid to come to Raleigh.
That fear is having a significant impact on businesses, especially as some are looking into hiring private security to ensure the safety of staff and customers.
“Our profits are down for the first time ever if you take COVID out of the situation, obviously. We have had a successful business that has only risen every year that we’ve been open, and now it’s down. And some months, it’s down as much as 50 percent,” Hammer said.
At Tuesday’s Safe, Vibrant & Healthy Community Committee Meeting, city leaders identified several areas of downtown seeing the most crime, including the GoRaleigh Station, Fayetteville Street, Davie Street and Glenwood South.
To combat these problems, the city is hiring private security in hopes of alleviating the issues caused by Raleigh police officer shortages. Police have also increased their presence in the area.
The city is also looking to add additional lighting and surveillance video throughout parts of downtown.