More of a thought exercise really but thinking about it the other day, I realized that downtown Raleigh has so few blocks that are 100% car-free. With Nash, Moore, and Capitol Square being the obvious, I could only find two of them.
The best example is the eastern side of 200 Fayetteville. Historic structures plus the buildings around Market and Exchange plaza have created a pedestrian-only block, 100% throughout. One caveat could be that the old bank building at 227 Fayetteville has an underground tunnel to the parking deck to the east (GoRaleigh Station) so you could nix this block because of that.
The other one I think is 100% car-free is the future site of rusBUS which will obviously change in the future.
Although, as I was looking around, a single car in an alley invalidates my thinking!
Really Really good video, from a youtube channel shared on here a few times, about Pedestrian Malls. I for 1 am not calling to bring back Fayetteville St. Mall, but this is a really interesting deep dive into downtown pedestrian malls in American built around the 70s which the Fayetteville pedestrian mall was part of. What they were and what they were not is interesting. I was not around, but I hear about how the mall killed downtown. My hunch is that lots of people moving to the burbs and new shopping in the burbs really did that, and there was not saving downtown with or without the pedestrian mall. Did pedestrian malls ruin U.S. downtowns? - YouTube
On a somewhat related note. It would be really fascinating to see a kind of historical map of Raleigh retail (malls and supper markets maybe?) over the life of the city to show where it used to be and where it has moved over time. I am betting you would see a new place like Cameron Village or Crabtree Valley Mall get built, then old ones would start to die. I know of three old Piggy Wiggly’s ITB that would be part of that.
I was looking through the spreadsheet he made on all the downtown malls, and something interesting that stood out was that he was looking at pedestrian malls near college or university campuses (within 1 mile) and gave Fayetteville a Yes. I would have said no, because it is much further from NC State (what if Hillsborough had gone car free?) but I am guessing he saw that William Peace or Shaw was nearby.
Fayetteville Street Mall failed to revive DT because the forces at the time were too strong against it.
Had the mall survived, I think that it would have been renovated and successful today as an anchor of a growing and vibrant city center. That said, too much has changed and I don’t advocate for its return. However, I would be VERY interested to experience the alternate reality had it stayed.
FNB tower will really help out Fay Street a lot. Not only because it will add 250+ people living on Fay Street needing things to do but bottom half of the design is pedestrian friendly. People will want to be around the FNB tower.
So if we want Fay to be revitalized we need to look at all the old buildings that suck…and see what can be done to make people want to around them. People want to look and be around pretty things.
Wells Fargo tower badly needs a new ground floor experience. They need to pull a Durham One City Center streetscape.
It looked good at first, when the trees were small & the fountains worked, but the Civic Center was dead center-midway between Memorial Auditorium & the Capitol. The Center Plaza (Progress Energy Bldg) was built to compliment the adjacent Civic Center. As the trees grew, shadows increased, homelessness concentrated in the area & a just a few lunch places survived after Hudson-Belk & their cafeteria left. The arena was built 7 miles from DTR. DTR was left for dead until Mayor Meeker arrived. My aunt who attended Peace in the 1960s & lived in Dallas, asked in 1980s, “what happened to downtown Raleigh?”
Downtown was already a ghost town before the mall was put in. It had nearly finished bleeding its energy that first started with Cameron Village and culminated with Crabtree Valley in the early 70s. The mall was put in because it was dead.
The key to downtown’s resurgence surely hasn’t been driven by retail up until now. It has been driven by residents. Had the mall been renovated and maintained properly, and had residents come to provide it 18 hour/day energy, it could have been a great place. Of course, even in my alternate universe, the old convention center needed to go.