Reality Check on DT Raleigh's physical size


Interesting tool. I can confirm that “downtown” Boston and Philly are both comparable in area to DTR. One thing to keep in mind though is that we don’t want to limit “urban” Raleigh to DTR proper. If we were to compare the sheer number of good urban neighborhoods in a legacy city with those in Raleigh, the number and geographic area wouldn’t be close. But, in terms of a CBD, Raleigh certainly has room for millions more square feet of real estate.


This has been a fun and informative exercise. Thank you @John!


This is entirely false. The original planners only put in place the 4 parks and the capitol square. The railroad arrived in the 1850’s and with it industrial uses clustered near the depots. Freed slaves ended up on the south and east mostly because a couple of plantations were broken up into small lots and rented(east) or sold (south). Also freed slave communities were mostly forced into the dirty valleys below the affluent neighborhoods on hills. Hungry Neck, 4th Ward, Smokey Hollow, South Park.


You mean, what we currently call South Saunders Street (which is actually the “Dawson/McDowell Connector” last I checked)…MLK was just called Smithfield Road for over a hundred years.


Let’s stay on topic. Any more chatter on street history carving up the city deserves it’s own thread.


Hi Leo,

While I totally agree with you. I believe that we should take the fact that Raleigh has actual height restrictions, 12 stories here and there, it really changes the map for me, so too speak…


You are most welcome for the site/link.
I have been using this site for a couple of years now and have even mentioned it in comments in the previous format but it probably got buried. I am glad that you and others are enjoying using the tool. I’ve used the tool to inform a lot of my comments here and on City-Data where I also actively participate in the forums.
My entire point of this thread was to dispel the myth that DT Raleigh is too small to be competitive. I see nothing but opportunity when I am in Raleigh, and I suppose that’s what Amazon saw as well when they toured.


The UDO doesn’t exclude going beyond the set heights. It just allows developers to be assured that a minimum height can be guaranteed before they make land purchases. Especially in the very core, I expect time will prove that developers will ask for height/floor count variances when land costs rise to the point that current limits do not allow for an economically feasible project.
That said, I wholeheartedly support a stepped down approach in height limits on DT’s edges where it meets existing residential neighborhoods to its east and west. The UDO that’s in place assures that a healthy debate between residents and developers has to occur if a perceived out of scale project is proposed to exceed the UDO.
Some might not like this model, but it is one that provides for some balance. I also suspect that the UDO will be updated in the future to reflect new realities and demand in a just-in-time/as needed basis.


How does the UDO gets updated? What is the process/what kicks it off?


I don’t know that information, but nothing lasts forever. Things change as context changes.


Once the Bus Rapid Transit wraps up they will have to update the plans unless they want the system to fail due to low ridership. It won’t go very few at first.


A post was merged into an existing topic: Bus Rapid Transit in Raleigh


How about Raleigh vs. Nashville?


I spent a lot of time in Nashville over the past year. I think we are comparable, however, as has been previously mentioned, our employment center is not downtown, rather RTP. Downtown Nashville is growing like crazy, and traffic is a real headache. It is the biggest city around between Memphis and Knoxville (200 miles away). The similarly sized (maybe larger) Triangle region has 4 major employment centers spread 30 miles apart. Plus we have Wilmington 120 miles to the east, Richmond 150 miles north, and the Triad 80 miles west. Our proximity to other medium sized metros hurts our DT IMO.


Silicon Valley consists of multiple employment centers scattered among downtown & suburban locations. Our region may better resemble this (successful, though maximized) area (San Jose, SF, Cupertino, Palo Alto etc). We don’t need to be a Charlotte, Nashville or Atlanta. Transit is a must. As time passes, I have my doubts about Apple coming. Our “warts” seem to be exposed. Amazon May be impressed if we make changes In November.


Silicon Valley has mountains, an ocean and a bay that all help it become more dense. Raleigh has no natural boundaries to prevent sprawl.


Hm, I’m not seeing what everyone else is. In the case of Miami, I see an extensive urban grid that allows for flexible expansion of downtown, whereas for Raleigh, the grid ends sharply and would require enormous investment to redevelop/extend any sort of walkable urban environment. I agree that there’s a LOT of untapped potential though, and if we fill in the gaps between, say, NC State and downtown proper, the urban part of our city would really start to feel a lot more sizable.


How so on the BRT failing part? I know the New Bern line will have pretty high ridership.


Totally agree with lack of grids hurting us.


Practically the entirety of MiamiDade County is on a grid with streets and avenues numbered. That doesn’t mean that it’s all urban or that it all can become urban. Most of those gridded areas are single family homes. Don’t be fooled by the grid itself as some sort of urban indicator.
There are plenty of successful cities globally that are not on a strict grid. For me, Raleigh’s potential lies in the successful development and redevelopment of available lands in its core and on the edges of it that allow for the core to expand, with or without a grid. For me it’s about sidewalk experience, and those sidewalks are certainly welcome to meander.