Raleigh invites businesses, community members to talk about ‘reopening downtown’

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — City leaders are working to make downtown Raleigh thrive again.

They’re holding a forum Tuesday afternoon for people to share their ideas about what the downtown area needs moving forward.

It’s been a tough past year for the downtown region.

The city’s created things to help drive business among the empty storefronts and quietness, like curbside dining parking spots and expanded outdoor dining.

After months of feeling deserted, you can spot people on the sidewalks again.

Now, city leaders are figuring out what else they can do to draw in more people.

“I think we’re starting to see a lot more people coming downtown, a lot more opportunity,” said Bill King, CEO of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.

King said foot traffic downtown is growing weekly.

“We’re starting to see some good signs of momentum. It’s still uneven,” he said.

It’s much busier on the weekends than on weekdays. City leaders are working to change that.

“The fact is our downtown is our heart and soul of our city,” said Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin.

Mayor Baldwin and the city are hosting a virtual forum for business owners and community members on Tuesday at 4 p.m.

People can sign up until noon Tuesday to share their feedback and suggestions for going forward.

“This is really an opportunity for everybody to come together again and really say this is how we’re going to rebuild,” said Mayor Baldwin.

The downtown Raleigh Alliance is also sharing their ideas. Some of them include keeping the expanded outdoor dining, bringing more live music/markets/pop-up shops, and maximizing their use of space downtown.

“It’s really about what do we do to re-invigorate and get people to come downtown again,” said King.

The largest companies downtown, like Citrix, Red Hat and Wells Fargo, plan to start bringing employees back in some capacity in July and September.

“That’s when you’ll see I think downtown start taking off again,” said Mayor Baldwin.

She said it’s not only important for the face of the city, but for the economy too.

“Having downtown back and thriving is important to all of us,” said the mayor.

After a few more presentations and studies about these ideas, the city will work up an economic development plan to move forward.

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