Downtown Raleigh Revitalization

Downtown RaleighOutgoing Raleigh chief planning and development officer Mitchell Silver spoke at the annual State of Downtown Raleigh event Thursday morning and discussed the future prospects for Raleigh’s downtown core. The event was Silver’s last public speaking engagement in Raleigh before he starts his new job in New York City in May.

Silver shared the 2013 accomplishments for the city, including:

  • Completed $343 million in new commercial development projects
  • Started construction of another $195 million in building projects
  • Added 85 new startup companies through HQ Raleigh and American Underground
  • Added 2,000 new downtown employees

Silver was then asked by a crowd member to list the three things that he thinks should be Raleigh’s top planning priorities for the future. To great applause, Silver replied:

  1. Light rail
  2. Dix Park
  3. Redevelopment of Capital Boulevard coming into downtown

Silver would also like to create “parklets” throughout downtown, featuring green spaces, public work spaces, skateboard parks, and sporting venues – not to mention a large water feature. “There’s something about water that makes the space quite unique,” he says. “It’s visually appealing, its’ moving, and it masks out noise. It’s just a feature that’s romantic, an elegant feature to have downtown that goes beyond a fountain.”

ParkletAccording to Silver, cities that have made modernizing transitions downtown, such as these proposed parklets, view their downtown as a whole campus instead of a cluster of campuses.

City Manager Ruffin Hall has also asked the City Council to “refresh the conversation” about revamping downtown Moore Square. Several years ago Raleigh held a design competition for the 4-acre park with the winning plan including a civic plaza, a central lawn, and a play area for children. Now, because of an improving economy and low interest rates on bonds, Hall believes it’s an attractive time to undertake the estimated $12.5 million project.

Raleigh residents are encouraged to join the discussion on community planning projects. By visiting Mind Mixer, ideas and comments can be shared with city officials to guide decision-making.

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