Density / Urban Sprawl

Great timelapse of how Raleigh has developed in the last 36 years that was shared by maptastik over on Twitter. Made me wonder what would have happened without 540. Would people be moving to Wake Forest right now, or would the area around Gleenwood be seeing even more growth because it is so much closer to RTP?


Since their drive to downtown would still be the same, I think Wake Forrest would still be developing. Maybe not at the pace it has. But land values and a whole bunch of other factors would probably still have people heading further and further out.
Have to remember while a lot of us on here believe in density, most of the folks moving here from New York and Cali etc want that 1/2 acre lot far from the city.


I am sure it would still be growing, but I think there would be a significantly different development pattern if you could not jump on 540 and get to RTP. Maybe Brier Creek would be huge.

I also kind of get what you are saying about CA and NY people. There are definitely loads of people who want that. I moved here after being in the bay area for 3 years and one of my main thoughts was that if I was going to living in a smaller city like Raleigh the real advantage was that it was actually possible to afford living close in. Lots of new people moving to my neighborhood saying the same thing. But, it is getting more expensive every month, and if no one wanted to live close in it would be much affordable. There is def a mix of desires in type of place to live going on.


would be an interesting metric to track, but probably no way to know:

what did you want in Raleigh when you moved here from somewhere else?

.more affordable home ownership?
.more affordable rent?
.easier faster commute?
.lower overall cost of living?
.better place to raise a family?
.better career options?
.lower cost of living?
.more urban and dense than wherever you came from?
(obviously zillions of other reasons)

I’d put my money on everything except the last one: wanting more density and more urban. Not hard to believe the desire for more density and so forth might come from those of us who have already been living here a bit, and wish it was more like some of the places these new residents are fleeing. Kind of ironic if true, but of course we’ll never know. Just makes me wonder about stuff like that.


Here’s my answers:

What did you want in Raleigh when you moved here from somewhere else?
Answer: Chose Raleigh because it was ranked high as a great place to live. I actually quit my job and did a road trip across the country confident I would find a new job. Almost considered staying in Chicago but I really wanted to see the Atlantic Ocean.

more affordable home ownership?
Answer: Didn’t consider home ownership at the time.

.more affordable rent?
Answer: Yes!

.easier faster commute?
I had a 15 minute commute in the SF Bay Area. That was quick enough for me and the reason why I don’t necessarily feel bad for those who complain about long commutes here when they live 20 miles away from work.

.lower overall cost of living?
Answer: Yes. California was going through a drought and they were imposing fines for using too much water. I didn’t think it would get any better. I’ve seen gas hit $5/gallon which is also why I use transit and try to shop local within my neighborhood (except on vacations) or leisure.

.better place to raise a family?
CA wasn’t a bad place to raise a family. So it really wasn’t a reason why I moved here.

.better career options?
Answer: I heard there was a major tech scene so yes. Being in the Bay Area there were job prospects. In saying that, I didn’t leave the Bay for better job options but I did pick Raleigh because there was a tech scene.

.lower cost of living?
Answer: Yes. See more detailed answers above.

.more urban and dense than wherever you came from?
Answer: I lived in a suburb and was hoping to live closer to the main city with a cheaper cost of living. When I saw Raleigh, it was way smaller than I thought it was which was a disappointment initially. Over the years, I’ve grown to love it.

As far as density goes, I do kind of wish there was more dense areas. I didn’t leave California because it was too busy or dense. I didn’t have to deal with the traffic as much either since I had a shorter commute. I’ve actually really started to like Queens, NY. Overall it’s dense and I’ve considered moving there. Suburbs of DC have also been on my radar. I’m quite happy with my job here which is part of what keeps me here. I’ve also gained some close friends.


Urbanism isn’t necessarily a partisan thing. There are pro-urban lefties and also nimby-lefties. There are mayberry righties but also pro-development righties. It’s complicated. Although there are individual issues like transit that do have a strong left/right polarization.

That said Kane’s dumped a LOT more office space in North Hills than Downtown. You have to wonder if we might’ve seen a couple more towers by now if it weren’t bleeding businesses to North Hills. It’s a very Atlanta-esque “Buckhead” urban island for the rich style of thinking, and I do think it has blunted Raleigh’s boom somewhat. I have mixed feelings about Kane.


Agree with the majority of the post. However, the North Hills developments were entirely opportunistic for a variety of reasons, namely the previous ownership of the land and cost for additional parcels, huge lot sizes, and lack of barriers against construction. If it wasn’t built in North Hills, it wouldn’t be built downtown. It would be spread out across the city along Wake Forest Road, Blue Ridge Road, Glenwood Avenue, Atlantic Avenue, Wade Avenue, etc, but at a much lower density. The economics for these projects wouldn’t be possible for downtown land prices and lot constraints.

Because of horrible city planning in the 80s, 90s, and early 00s, Raleigh is essentially a giant suburb where the vast majority of the neighborhood retail spaces are strip malls. The city needs to create these new urban nodes outside of the downtown. It’s healthy for the city to have various neighborhoods with some kind of identity besides strip malls with same chain retail places that you find a thousand times over across the US.


It’s Disney urban for people who want to drive to their urbanism and pretend that they are downtown. While I understand that there are people living in NH, and near its edges, it’s still mostly a lifestyle center that people access primarily by car. To be clear, it’s certainly better than strip mall hell that dots the county, but it’s just not the same as expanding upon an urban framework.

That said, Kane’s other ventures into downtown itself (Dillon/SH) prove that he’s not solely pursuing these neo-urban ventures. Personally, I’d rather see Kane’s energy/money poured into 121 Fayetteville and phase 3 (and 4) of SH before Downtown South. While I don’t have anything against DTS, it’s honestly more like NH than like SH or Dillon.


I’m just keeping up hope that developments will continue along Six Forks/Wake Forest Rd, and around 5 Points/Cameron Village area, down Glenwood and into the Crabtree Valley area. Once all these gaps are filled with developments, eventually all will be connected to downtown and will seem like one mass/continuous city grid


“ It’s Disney urban for people who want to drive to their urbanism and pretend that they are downtown.”

Completely ridiculous and faulty comment on so many levels, that it’s not worth a serious response.


I’m thinking that, while there’s no question that North Hills has stolen some of downtown’s thunder, it has also probably captured a good number of residents and office tenants who would never have considered downtown in the first place - and would have otherwise landed in an even more auto-oriented location such as Brier Creek, or perhaps in another city altogether. So although downtown may suffer somewhat at the hands of North Hills, in my estimation it’s probably been good for Raleigh on the whole.

Really, downtown Raleigh is both blessed and cursed by lack of good highway access. On the one hand, it means our neighborhoods are much better connected to downtown than most American cities, many of which are strangled off by freeway loops (eg Charlotte) or pierced by massive smelly noisy through routes (eg Atlanta.) It helps make Raleigh a much more pleasant place to be than either of those two cities, tbh. On the other hand, for many office tenants, proximity to a freeway is a non-negotiable requirement, for whatever reason. North Hills has it, DTR doesn’t.

I firmly believe that had the 70s plan for a freeway between East and Bloodworth happened, downtown Raleigh might actually have captured a larger portion of the office market during the past 50 years. But the neighborhoods east of that freeway would have almost certainly entered a prolonged period of decline, and we’d be in worse position for the future.

The way I see it, rather than punching a highway through, commuter rail is our solution to this problem… if it runs frequently and reliably enough to be popular, and if the city focuses on office development (rather than housing) next to Union Station.


To bounce off this - most major cities have multiple districts like this.

Also we have to remember while all of us (I’d assume otherwise we wouldn’t be here) love urbanization and the thrill of downtowns there’s a huge share of people who absolutely hate it and prefer suburban or strip type developments.

I know many folks who lived in metro Atlanta who would absolutely never go downtown and I’m sure there’s some of the same here.

While I’d love to have a huge bustling urban walkable downtown, it’s different strokes for different folks :man_shrugging:t5:


"It’s Disney urban for people who want to drive to their urbanism and pretend that they are downtown.” Completely ridiculous and faulty comment on so many levels, that it’s not worth a serious response.

The truth hurts.


Downtown Raleigh has roughly around 11,000 people living there. Pretty much all the rest of us million plus people in Wake County enjoy the suburban life. There is no hurt whatsoever. It is what we want.


Kane replaced a dying indoor mall from the 70s and a decrepit aprawling garden apartment complex across the street with a thriving relevant trendy mixed use destination thats’s been a magnet for development and continues to grow. It might not seem authentic enough but it sure as hell beats what was there before.


Did I say that it wasn’t better?

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I’m pretty sure people are not ‘pretending’ they are downtown when they go to NH. That seems like a really strange statement. It’s just a development that happens to have most everything they need except a Scott Crawford restaurant. I am aware I don’t live in DTR.


I’ll bite.

How many of the million residents in Wake County walk or take public transport to DTR? How is that any different from North Hills?

How is the majority of the recent DTR developments built on parking decks any different, in style or function, than the recent developments in North Hills?

There is a significant resident population in North Hills now, along with hotel space. Yet you continually seem to reference only the old mall portion of North Hills, which is slated for redevelopment.

Above all, how can you even begin to compare what is basically a brand new district to an established CBD? Do you expect urban areas to fully form overnight?


No, it’s just your post had the judgemental “Disney urban” and disdain of “people who want to drive to their urbanism and pretend they are downtown.”

Not trying to make it personal it just seems very elitist and classist comment, as if to say we all of course know “real” downtown is better.


I’ve got more to add but I think we need to move this to the downtown vs midtown thread!