Raleigh Epicenter

Never thought I’d hear anyone called the ATC “timid”. I remember what it was before, razor wire and broken glass. I’m also curious why you called it “artificial”? I’ve been to several warehouse rehabs in big cities and I’d call ATC above average. Not to get TOO off-topic but when Broadstone, Van Alen, the Police HQ redevelopment, NC Mutual Life, the ATC expansion and maybe those fancy townhouses are all done, that area will be one of the most urban and architecturally interesting in the Triangle.

I’m not really familiar with the before picture of the ATC but I’m sure the renovation is of supremely higher-quality.

I just get the sense that the ATC is more of a campus than an area having some real urban form. Maybe I’m just a fanboy of a grid system but when I look at the ATC and ballpark in general, I get a sense that it’s more closed off than actually creating organic life within and through it. (now I don’t live in Durham so I could be completely wrong)

For example, what if people wanted to go east-west through the ATC. The old warehouse is a huge barrier with no public way of getting through. Sure, you can open the doors and walk through it but if I recall, I had to go up/down stairs last time I did that. What if the doors were locked? Then I’d have to walk around.

Also, what if I wanted to get through on a bike? I don’t see that option.

As a destination and campus-like setting, I see the ATC as being one of the best. However, with all it’s value and high-quality features, I’m just not seeing it as naturally growing urban experience.

But hey, that’s all good. I know what to expect when I go there.

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Two thoughts on ATC…at the time it was developed, it was indeed timid in that it was sticking a toe into the bathtub of downtown Durham. Would affluent people actually go to downtown Durham and hang out? Bright leaf was doing good, but was also sort of self contained but closer to Duke and Ninth Street. There was perceived safety in a campus setting that cracked the door open for the development we are currently seeing in downtown proper. Secondly, and what a campus is, is ATC doesn’t face outward. It could. It just doesn’t. There is street grid adjacent to it, but the primary store openings do not engage the street grid. Downtown Raleigh has some signs still of early downtown development. Like the entire first floor of the Cotton Mill is parking. That is super expensive residential space, nowadays, ripped out back then for convenient parking…the all important sales pitch in 1996.

I get this is a Raleigh blog, so I don’t want to get TOO off topic, but I think I have to say this for my own sanity.
First, “urban” doesn’t mean “grid”. I’ve been to several warehouse conversions and none of them are grids. I’m not sure what a “naturally growing urban experience” is, because all urban experiences are planned. But warehouse complexes are a common feature of urban life and they all have the same problems that Leo mentioned, but that doesn’t make them any less urban.
Second. ATC is surrounded by train tracks on the north, a car lot to the west, a highway to the south and the ballpark/dpac area to the east. Why would they make it externally-facing?
To be honest, these criticisms just seem like some silly Raleigh v. Durham tribalism. Like, you can’t admit Durham has something cool unless it’s backhanded. I also get that this forum probably isn’t the best place for this conversation, so that’s all I’ll say about it.

You’ve certainly made some good points, I appreciate them, but the Fayetteville St vs. ATC point was for objective comparison, not inter city rivalry striking. (with a hint of personal preference rather than “here is what is better”)

Let’s leave it at that.


I like DTR and I like DTD. They both have major strengths and some weaknesses. Smush then together and you’d probably have the coolest downtown in the country, but alas.

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Having a commuter train between the two downtowns would be kind of like smushing them together.


I’d like a midnight train coming back from Durham.


The new one leaves just after 9


I’m actually really excited for the next Saturday I have the opportunity to:

  1. bike to Union station
  2. take train to Durham with bike
  3. bike all over DTD and enjoy some restaurants/bars/parks
  4. take train back to RUS and bike home.

Where did you get this information. I can’t find any info on the Durham stop.

Page three, right side shows the train going from Durham towards Raleigh. 4 daily in that direction.

you’re essentially just catching a short segment of the Piedmont & Carolinian service from Raleigh, right?

Yup. Was like $7 which isn’t mega cheap, but combined with the $3 DRX ride out there, works out pretty reasonable.

This is a few days late, but the entire first floor of the Cotton Mill is not parking. While the north side first floor is parking, the south side is storage. That part of the first floor’s ceiling is too low for habitable space, and the rehabilitation of that space too expensive for the market at that time.
For me, the bigger indicator that the renovation of the building was early DT re-development is the land given to surface parking lot.
Again, like the ATC, renovating The Cotton Mill was clearly better than tearing it down. Would The Cotton Mill be renovated today in the same way that it was in the 90s? No. It would have been renovated at a much higher end than it was then when the sales prices per square foot was well below $100/ft2, but it still would have been provided with parking like all projects are today. It just would have been a different project; so would have been ATC if it were done today.


We shouldn’t be looking at other Cities and see what they have…Raleigh has some pretty Cool spots too, So…why not focus on that and not worry What other neighboring Cities are doing. Overall…I really do Like Raleigh.

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I agree, which is why I think that the Dilion project is cool…it’s Raleigh! :heart:


You do need to look at other cities so you see whats working and whats not working. I mean, really, if an urban planner walked into an interview, and was all like, yeah, I don’t really study or care what other places are doing…yeeeeahhhh. Not hiring you bub. Certainly, do what is best for here…don’t outright copy everything other places do, and also definitely be creative and try new things (maybe eventually Raleigh will do that), but study the world around you for crying out loud.


You are Right about that…But I was saying is that Raleigh shouldn’t focus so Much of what other cities do or don’t do. Okay…so you feed off from what other cities works for them, bring it to the Table and Brainstorm or even better feed off what we have here and create something Great. If that makes any sense.

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