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Business & Economy

Closer Look At Downtown Raleigh's Meteoric Growth

Raleigh Union Station in downtown Raleigh. The new station opened July 10, 2018. It serves Amtrak customers.
Jason deBruyn
/
WUNC
View of downtown Raleigh from Union Station.

Growth in downtown Raleigh is setting records, and it shows no indication of slowing down.

Through the first half of 2018, $274 million worth of construction projects have been completed. That's the most since 2013, and there are still six months left in the year.

To be sure, this figure can be lumpy, as it counts only projects that are officially complete. But a second figure – not to mention all the detours throughout parts of downtown – points to a healthy pipeline of downtown development.

In addition to the completed projects, another $290 million of private investment is in the works, and $137 million of public investment has started or is underway, according to second quarter figures released by the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.

Investments, broken out by underway and completed, by year in downtown Raleigh.
Credit Downtown Raleigh Alliance / Jason deBruyn
/
Jason deBruyn
Investments, broken out by underway and completed, by year in downtown Raleigh.

Major projects to open in 2018 include the Dillon and Union Station, both in the warehouse district. Growth is also occurring in other areas; food and beverage sales in the Moore Square district are up 32 percent compared with 2017. Across all of downtown, food and beverage sales are up nearly 10 percent compared with last year.

"The region has been transitioning over the last few years from largely a suburban-type model of development to having these dense urban cores," said Bill King, DRA senior vice president of Economic Development and Planning. "(Cities) are developing their downtown in response to living and working in these places. The idea of being able to do a whole lot of things in one place."

These major project openings impact downstream investments as well, as shops and restaurants can see enough patrons who live close by. There have been 31 new retailers since 2014, spurred on by more than 2,000 new apartment units delivered since 2015, according to DRA data. But it all starts with the major projects, says King.

"When you do those things, that's when you start to be able to get retail. Because you can support it throughout the week, people are walking on the streets more consistently, and you have more density," he said. "I think it's a larger macro trend in urban growth that's happening here on the regional level."

Downtown Raleigh by the numbers:

Downtown Raleigh by the numbers, via the Downtown Raleigh Alliance second quarter report.
Credit Downtown Raleigh Alliance
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Downtown Raleigh by the numbers, via the Downtown Raleigh Alliance second quarter report.

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