RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The City of Raleigh is working on plans to reimagine a downtown alleyway.
Commerce Place is a short alley in the Warehouse District, running between West Martin and West Davie streets.
For more than 40 years, Anthony Ulinksi has created custom woodwork from his warehouse district studio, Dovetail Woodworks.
“I started painting about 30 years ago and have set up this front gallery to show my work,” he said.
He’s the only business along Commerce Place. He’s seen the alleyway go through a lot of change over the years.
“In the 70’s and 80’s, it was really just a parking lot,” he said.
The road is largely used for loading and 2-hour parking. The city wants to redesign the alley with a pedestrian-oriented lens.
Changes could possibly include the addition of streeteries which are outdoor dining spaces that became popular during the pandemic. Ideas also include public art, more pedestrian space, and other amenities.
“Anything will get more foot traffic. We have very little. It’s a kind of a dark street. Many people don’t know that there’s anything on it and so they sort of avoid it,” said Ulinski.
The project is being led by the City’s Urban Projects Group in collaboration with several other departments. They plan to start installing small improvements by Spring 2024.
The first changes could include the road to show the division of pedestrian and vehicle zones.
Aesthetic changes like movable planters along with tables and chairs could also be included.
Ulinski said the presence of food trucks or a coffee cart could be helpful here too.
“Some place where people could rest and sit, that would be wonderful. There’s not really many oases in this town,” he said.
The initial changes will provide a test version of the street the city can learn from before investing in larger improvements.
“That would be hugely beneficial. They would walk by my place. I don’t think that would hurt me a bit,” Ulinksi said.
The city is inviting the public to stop by Commerce Place during First Friday events. There will be snacks, games, and an opportunity to see share input on the streetscape vision.
The next First Friday is Nov. 3 from 3 to 9 p.m. Monthly First Fridays allow art galleries and studios to showcase their work by opening their doors to the public.