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Downtown Raleigh's Future


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I feel as though Raleigh is in another league, much higher league when it comes to nightlife.

Agreed.

The point about making DT Raleigh the center of all that is RDU...I certainly agree with :thumbsup:

Additionally, and to me most importantly, Raleigh needs to be marketed as the fun place to be for the region. The fact that Chapel Hill still kind of holds this distinction is borderline ridiculous to me. Downtown Raleigh already has a ton of fun places to listen to a band, catch an art crawl, go to a performance at the theater, etc. It needs to capitalize on that I think. RTP is great and all, but let's face it....The place is damn boring to much of the outside world. Yes, it does contribute to this place in ways words can't describe. Bottom line though, is that a strong and FUN downtown Raleigh is what needs to be marketed. You want people leaving (or better yet..not leaving at all)and telling their friends about the great time they had shopping, dining, etc. And for locals, Raleigh can be that place where your worries melt away from the day at work after a wild night on the town. Just my thoughts.

I really like your ideas.

I think it would be cool of Raleigh got a museum dedicated to NC culture... "The Museum of NC Culture."

Things like tobacco, BBQ, college basketball, The Outer Banks, the mountains and other related culture could be covered.

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The North Carolina History Museum and Raleigh City Museum both cover NC culture to some extent in their permanent collections and temporary exhibits.

As for downtown sports bars, there are Woodys City Market, Jillians, Stool Pigeons, and Hi 5. Is this enough? I don't know. It would be nice to see something along the lines of an Ale House or * Draft House/Harrisons open on Fayetville Street as a draw, but they seem to be happy to be in the suburbs for now. I don't think the area could support an ESPN Zone *yet* but something along those lines would be appropriate for a space like The Warehouse at Dawson and Cabarrus, or somewhere further west in the warehouse district. It would be a "tourist" draw and something for the locals.

I think downtown raleigh has "nightlife" covered, but it does need to work on it's "daylife" -- retail and other destination places to fill in the gaps between museums, etc.

Cafe Zen, Fins, and Yancey's are hopefully only the tip of the iceburg of new restaurants downtown. City Market was pretty busy last night for Valentine's day, but what does it take to keep the crowds coming back tonight and the next night? More residents downtown will eventually make the streets not feel so empty at night, and that success will build upon itself.

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  • 2 weeks later...

OK now that it looks like the NASCAR HOF is coming to CLT I can turn my attention to my other hometown.....the new convention center, the revitalized Fayetteville St, the hipness of South End...it's all really starting to come together for RAL, but I think the city needs a big attraction downtown to bring visitors in. The museums are great (wish the MOA was downtown though) but RAL needs something else to bring the convention trade in and to support more hotels downtown. The Georgia aquarium in ATL just passed the one million visitors mark after only 4 mos, exceeding everyone's expectations. What do you think about a NC Aquarium in downtown Raleigh? I know there are regional aquariums on the coast but I'm talking about a huge world class facility. What do you guys think?

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Yeah...don't think the State will be flipping the bill for another aquarium....since they are funding the 3 that are along the coastal region.

Hence the reason the State built the aquariums along the coast...to be an economic generator for the area that they are in and they are geographically located based upon the aquatic characteristics of the state. Now if only Raleigh had a water feature.

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A WORLD CLASS (major emphasis) aquarium, or other attraction would be great. I'm not sure Raleigh has an Arthur Blank here to foot the bill for a $100Mil. facility.

or maybe RAL could do what CLT did and seek an increase in its hotel tax to help pay a portion of the costs. If CLT does get the HOF and it generates the amount of tourist activity and secondary development that I suspect it will, this could serve as a model for what a major attraction could do in RAL. Also, as long as the city (and the local taxpayers) is willing to put in its own $$$, I think the NC Legislature would be open to funding at least some of this--I personally would be happy with some of our local tax dollars going to pay for this

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OK now that it looks like the NASCAR HOF is coming to CLT I can turn my attention to my other hometown.....the new convention center, the revitalized Fayetteville St, the hipness of South End...it's all really starting to come together for RAL, but I think the city needs a big attraction downtown to bring visitors in. The museums are great (wish the MOA was downtown though) but RAL needs something else to bring the convention trade in and to support more hotels downtown. The Georgia aquarium in ATL just passed the one million visitors mark after only 4 mos, exceeding everyone's expectations. What do you think about a NC Aquarium in downtown Raleigh? I know there are regional aquariums on the coast but I'm talking about a huge world class facility. What do you guys think?
I Would love to see an entertainment themed mall somehow intergrated with Fayetteville street that would be awsome i think your idea is pretty good too.
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I Would love to see an entertainment themed mall somehow intergrated with Fayetteville street that would be awsome i think your idea is pretty good too.

Yeh an entertainment district really would be awesome--and would probably be more acceptable to the public since ideally it would be largely privately financed (maybe with some govt incentives). Look for some clever developer to come in and do this and then we'll remember you suggested it first--Ft Worth has a similar concept and it has really helped that area bring in a lot of conventions and hotels. Let's face it--RAL has only so many office workers downtown--if you're going to have a vibrant downtown you've got to have SOMETHING here to bring other people in--as I mentioned before, the museums here are fine, but IMO the ones downtown are pitched mostly towards the school children of eastern NC. I say have a state aquarium AND an entertainment district! and for heaven's sake somebody think about a ball park or some kind of sports venue in downtown RAL too. Every project here seems to get regionalized--it's time RAL creates its own identity. hmmmm...anyone up for a streetcar line into southend??

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Is the NC aquarium in Wilmington? If it is then I think it is the right place to be. However I think the zoo should move to Charlotte or Raleigh. It would get many more visitors. I wouldn't mind putting it in Wilmington with the aquarium. I think Asheboro is an awkward place to have the zoo.

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Is the NC aquarium in Wilmington? If it is then I think it is the right place to be. However I think the zoo should move to Charlotte or Raleigh. It would get many more visitors. I wouldn't mind putting it in Wilmington with the aquarium. I think Asheboro is an awkward place to have the zoo.

The zoo ended up in Asheboro because it was felt that it should be centrally located, but even more importantly a very influential legislator (speaker of the House maybe) was from that part of the State and wanted the zoo there (welcome to NC politics). Around this same time, Jesse Helms was a commentator for WRAL-TV, and in one of his more famous commentaries he said that the State didn't need to spend money for a zoo in Asheboro, that all they needed to do was put a fence around Chapel Hill (we hate you Uncle Jesse). At any rate, the zoo is there now, and it's too late to move it. I'm ambivalent about zoos anyway, and maybe even aquariums the more I think about it. I do like the idea of an entertainment district for downtown RAL.

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Around this same time, Jesse Helms was a commentator for WRAL-TV, and in one of his more famous commentaries he said that the State didn't need to spend money for a zoo in Asheboro, that all they needed to do was put a fence around Chapel Hill (we hate you Uncle Jesse).

Hahaha, ohh that quote makes me smile everytime I read it...not because I agree with it or anything... :ph34r:

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Just wondering where you guys would put an Aquarium or an entertainment mall downtown? While these are good ideas for a theoretically large gridded downtown, Raleigh is very hemmed in by institutions and railroads. I would rather see 10,000 new folks living downtown with the services they need within walking distance on the limited space available instead of bringing in a million visitors a year to some colossal visitor oriented structure...I am not sure Raleigh can do both but would like to hear ideas.

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I was thinking the parking lot across the street from the History Museum, bounded by Edenton/Wilmington/Jones/Blount (I think its all the right streets) would be good for a big Aquarium...but that poses the problem of not being very close to the Convention Center. I want something nice to go in that lot, even if its not a museum/aquarium type thing.

As for an entertainment mall, the block bounded by Cabarrus/Wilmington/Blount/Lenoir would be good (it has Lincoln Theater there now). Its pretty much just old buildigns and dirt parking lots and its near Fayetteville Street and the Convention Center.

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I was thinking the parking lot across the street from the History Museum, bounded by Edenton/Wilmington/Jones/Blount (I think its all the right streets) would be good for a big Aquarium...but that poses the problem of not being very close to the Convention Center. I want something nice to go in that lot, even if its not a museum/aquarium type thing.

As for an entertainment mall, the block bounded by Cabarrus/Wilmington/Blount/Lenoir would be good (it has Lincoln Theater there now). Its pretty much just old buildigns and dirt parking lots and its near Fayetteville Street and the Convention Center.

Cool, both blocks are screaming for some help. The History Museum block has already been reserved for a downtown art museum extension by UP though :shades:

The Lincoln Theater block is a wild card...the Pope House will be protected by the City and Lincoln Theater likely would remain....however both of those buildings are entertainment oriented to some degree and could probably be nicely incorporated into the scheme.

How much space does an Aquarium need? How about put it along Peace Street right in front of the Archdale Building? Realign Salisbury and Wilmington to their original spots and presto...you have parking decks already in place, other museums close by, Glenwood South close by for eats and easy access to Capital Blvd (with a traffic signal on Peace for Gods sake).

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One thing I forgot about with the Pope House/Lincoln block -- didn't the a private group or the city (I can't recall which) want to build like an African American cultural center around the Pope House? I think a portion of that that block would be a nice place for that.

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I think they are making the pope house a museum... anyway, the Boston aquarium is not very large at all, it is more tall than wide. i don't think it would even need a whole block. i am not good at judging the size of things though. also, the Boston aquarium is not really that great... but it sure does attract a lot of people.

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In the early-mid 90s, the city was approached with bringing "the block" concept to downtown, on one of the two blocks being taken up by the convention center, or the northeast corner of Capital Blvd. and 440. It would have a large movie theater, arcade (pre-Jillians), shopping, etc., but I think they wanted some help from the city and/or county, which in the "keep taxes low at any cost" time was a big no-no. Wicked Smile had just opened, and it was thought downtown would just get better on its own.

The block is nothing but chains (and done by the same peple as Concord Mills), but that's what a lot of people (especially in the triangle area) seem to like. I think they could pull off someting like this using sites 2 and 3 (the surface lots between the old CC and Raleigh Memorial. The capitol to RMA vista would be preserved, and this would add a lot of activity to the convention center area. This could also help the Lafayete on site 4 (east end of new parking deck block) and the two towers on site 1 (east half of old CC).

There has been a lot of talk to make the area around the Pope house into an african american cultural center, with an outdoor pavilion for plays and concerts, a jazz club, etc. but they don't have any of the land or money to build it. Shaw is just south of there and wants to be a bigger player in the downtonw revitalization, but am not sure if they are on board. North of there a few blocks, the "Progress 3" block could have a lot of ground level retail with offices and then apartments/condos above them, with parking hidden in the middle.

The half block north of the new CC and land west of there (Kings and the surface lots) could house a nice "vertical" aquarium or entertainment district, with plenty of parking already there, and just a few blocks from the TTA stop. The Firestone/Morts Trophys/Tire store on the north side of Davie between Dawson and McDowell could be used for such a project as well.

This doesn't even consider North Blount and other space in the northeast quadrant of DT.

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I was thinking the parking lot across the street from the History Museum, bounded by Edenton/Wilmington/Jones/Blount (I think its all the right streets) would be good for a big Aquarium...but that poses the problem of not being very close to the Convention Center.

Does it really need to be? If we put everything in immediate range to the convention center than only the major interior of Raleigh will benefit while the outer parts of downtown suffer, however, if we spread out the attractions a little they'll help the areas around them grow and improve.

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Here's my take on the Aquarium idea:

First of all i love aquariums. A while back, the state of NC was looking to make an aquarium. Instead of doing what most places did (ie building 1 central aquarium), they decided to build lots of smaller venues so that "more" people could experience them. This explains the small one at fort fisher etc and the tiny one @ discovery place.

A few years back, the belk family was thinking of building an aquarium in the old convention center in uptown charlotte. Obviously this never came into fruition, and recently the convention center was demoed for the new epicenter.

The reason they decided not to go ahead with the aquarium was b/c 1. All of the "smaller" aquariums scattered in the state, and 2. (the primary reason) A huge one had just been built in tennessee.

This being the case, i think that the market would be over saturated for aquariums of the proportion that would be needed to generate any significance. This is especially true now that atlanta has just opened one heck of an attarction. I don't know of any personal data, but i am sure that the aquarium in Tennessee is getting crushed.

Raleigh just needs to find its niche, and generate something unique from that. There's no question that it's an upcoming city with a very bright future.

These are just my two cents!

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I think the Green Square project (expansion of the NC Museum of Natural Science) should help with attracting more people to downtown. I think an estimate of increased attendance from 700K to 1.5 million is expected with this expansion which would actually be much higher numbers than with something like an aquarium or sports/pasttime museum. Nascar HOF attendance estimates are around 400K per year. What I like about the expansion is that it fits in with Raleigh's/Triangle's image as a center for science and technology plus its educational. This is a $100 million + expansion to an already great museum.

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I had an idea about an aquarium, but the legislative building is kind of in the way. In my idea, the aquarium would be where the leg. bldg. is now, and would be mostly glass with a curved roof resembling a wave. I also took it a little further and thought about re-inventing the state govnt. complex into 4 towers each at different heights with triangular shaped crowns creating what looks similar to mountains. The two different projects in this idea(aquarium, and state govnt. complex) would create an icon not only for Raleigh, but for the entire state, as it would resemble the two most noticeable geographic boundaries in our state, the ocean, and the mountains.

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