Raleigh looks to keep expanded outdoor dining, grow outdoor events to ‘Reopen Downtown’

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Raleigh City Council is listening to ideas on Tuesday on how to improve the downtown area.

Watch the City Council meeting at 4 p.m.

They are hearing from business owners and community members for suggestions on how to bounce back from this past year.

John Pugh adjusted his merchandise at House of Swank through the pandemic.

“I can’t say the last year has not been weird, but we’re glad we’re still around,” said Pugh, CEO of House of Swank.

COVID-19 and last year’s riots forced businesses to close and emptied sidewalks.

“It’s a matter of getting people to be comfortable with everything,” said Pugh.

This is why the city council is holding a session at 4 p.m. for people to give suggestions on how to move forward.

Pugh said he would like to see more signage pointing to shops being open and a heavier social media presence about downtown by the city.

“Everyone’s trying to feel their way through what to do,” he said.

Some other ideas involve keeping the expanded outdoor dining, the curbside pick-up, and hosting more outdoor festivals and markets.

“As a resident of downtown, it feels really magical to walk through downtown and have all this activity happening outside that I don’t think necessarily happened before,” said Micki McCarthy, store manager at Weaver Street Market.

McCarthy said she’s been pleased seeing more foot traffic recently and wants the outdoor events to keep growing.

“It’s thrilling. It’s so thrilling. Downtown was really sleepy for a lot of last year,” said McCarthy.

The Downtown Raleigh Alliance said 22 businesses have reopened since February and eight new businesses are in storefronts.

They are working to crank that number higher.

“You’ve got to have a good downtown to have a good city region,” said Bill King, CEO of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.

After this meeting, city leaders will hold a few more studies and sessions, then come up with an economic development plan for downtown.

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