Small Roads with Denser Development

There is probably a better place to put this (feel free to move it Leo), but I was thinking about how I really like density that is around 2 lane streets (one in each direction). It is always better to be in and walk around as a pedestrian vs. more lanes. You can actually potentially shut the street down from cars every once in a while, just the best places in cities imo. In Raleigh the actual areas where let’s say 4 stories (at least) are allowed and actually happening around a street like is pretty small. Hillsborough St is kind of our premier version of this IMO. Glenwood south is like that, but shorter. Maybe the warehouse district and Person street I could kind of categorize this way. This got me thinking about what 2 lane streets would be good places to have a Hillsborough street like future?

Are there examples outside of DTR that are like that at all?

Probably a discussion point. But the OTB version I could think of are more like areas inside of a development, not streets where different developments might happen along the street.


I am jealous of Charlotte and even Durham with roads like this. But it seems to be a symptom of when the development on these roads occurred. Places like NoDa, Plaza Midwood and Ninth St seemed to have been developed earlier than parking minimums were enforced. Might be hard to do outside of the beltline without an extreme road diet or the city making a dedicate effort to make one of these. I could maybe see something around Atlantic Ave or Wake forest Rd, but still not to that degree.


There is kind of a catch 22 where if a small street started getting dense there would be a push for the infrastructure to “keep up” and widen the road. Hillsborough street is kind of fascinating because it didn’t have that happen, or I guess we reversed it to what it is today.

Yeah the Hillsborough road diet that created what we have today was clearly the right move from an urban design perspective.

I am inclined to think of West Street between Union station and peace Street to your original point though. Sure it’s a lot of 5 over 1s on the north end, but warehouse district is picking up like you said. 400H is obviously coming along in the middle of that area, and with RUSBus at the south end, I think that’ll be one of the densest two lane streets.


Quite a bit of downtown is 2 lane streets where 4 stories can exist. What I think is missing is the neighborhood walkable streets like:
Adam’s Morgan in DC: 2423-2435 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Elmwood in Berkeley: 2937-2901 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705
Forest Hills in Queens: Google Maps
San Francisco: Fillmore St.
Federal Hill in Baltimore: Google Maps

Fairview Road between Jarvis St. and Bickett Blvd. would be a good place to have this in the future - I don’t think the full stretch would need to be shops. In the example I put from Berkeley (Elmwood), there’s residential to the south of it which then leads to more shops. I also wouldn’t expect the 7 story hotel, but the feel of Hillsborough St. around Mitch’s Tavern would be good.

Outside of that, a lot of neighborhood streets would be decent if smaller commercial/office uses was allowed. Although it is small, the few shops on the corner of Fairview/Oberlin give a really nice charming feel. I wish we had more of this. Unfortunately a lot commercial zoning is limited to busy multi lane streets.


It would seem to me that Glenwood between Peace and Morgan is the street that is most similar to your list.


Are you talking about Glenwood South? @ADUsSomeday already mentioned GWS so I figured we were talking about outside downtown. Five Points is still a little close (I just saw that OTB was mentioned), but outside of the beltline, I don’t think there’s any similar place with the exception of small town’s downtowns (Apex, Wake Forest, Wendell, etc). They really aren’t high density like Hillsborough street (depending on which section we are talking about), but they are more enjoyable to walk vs. walking around a strip mall.

Given that some towns like Wendell has a downtown walkable strip, I’m surprised (but kind of not) that Raleigh doesn’t have a lot more small downtown strips. If we really look into it: the downtown strip in Wendell is about 1/4 mile. To compare what we may have had as a replacement for some of these places are:

  • Crabtree Valley Mall (About .5 mile from end to end)
  • North Hills west side about 1/4 mile between Rowan St. and
  • North Hills East from Dartmouth Rd to Cardinal at North Hills St. (.3 miles)
  • Pleasant Valley Promenade - about 1/4 mile end to end, but mainly parking lot (yuck). This place has 47 store/office spaces which is a decent amount when you compare it to some smaller downtowns. The problem is that it is not at all fun to walk. (Pleasant Valley Promenade)
  • Holly Park/Midtown East is about 1/4 mile together end to end. It is also mainly parking lot and is not fun to walk in. It also has about 47 stores (Midtown East / Holly Park)

To get the developments like Hillsborough St. and similar areas, the city needs to adjust the zoning or development conditions. Unfortunately, with Holly Park and Midtown East being recent developments, I would expect to see more strip malls/car oriented development. :-1:


i guess hillsborough st is unique due to a large university on one side of it.


Before my time, but I belive it used to be 2 lanes on each side and they reduced it when they put in the roundabouts.

Yes, used to be a four lane road. Much friendlier to bikes and pedestrians now, the old design was, to put it kindly, a product of its time.


That long stretch of Hillsborough is possibly the best road conversion/reimagination in the city’s history.


Agreed. Will be interesting to see the transformation of Lake Wheeler Road between S. Saunders and Maywood.

Nowhere to go but up.


Possibly around WF Rd, Whitaker Mill, Atlantic - with all the new developments…

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Agreed that it’s more likely to happen within a development (e.g., North Hills) than on an arterial outside. Both NCDOT and COR like their public streets to be quite wide; COR’s smallest mixed-use street is a 66’ ROW, and the smallest with parking lanes is 73’.

A 1:3 ratio of building height to street width is often cited as the point at which a street feels enclosed, and a 1:1 ratio as a tight urban enclosure. With those ratios, you’d need consistent 5-6-story buildings to get any enclosure on a Raleigh public street. And as we know, to get those heights around here usually means parking garages, which means high costs, large block sizes, etc.

It’ll be interesting to see how places like Seaboard Station, or the Warehouse District post-RUSbus, or City Market, evolve in the coming years.

Where those exist in other cities, they were usually outlying business districts that arose along streetcar routes or around railroad stations, before zoning outlawed mixed uses and walkability. Raleigh was too small of a city in the early 20th C. to have very many of those, but they do exist - Hillsborough St is a prime example.


Not sure where to put this, so I am dropping it here.
This makes me wonder how many roundabouts we have in Raleigh and in Wake County?


One note here is that we’re still in the top 10 (State of NC) for most roundabouts. We still could do MUCH better, but I like being in the top 10 of good things. :grin:


Where’s that list? I’d love to see that.

From your video. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


How did I miss that? LOL.
My guess is that most of NC’s are in Wake and Mecklenburg. Indiana’s is clearly driven (pun intended) by Carmel.
Florida’s, if I had to guess, are largely in gigantic planned and gated golf communities.
All in all, I just want to see more of them in Raleigh!
Off the top of my head, I’d like them in the following places:

  1. 5 points: I want the peanut!
  2. Sutton/Cameron/Bellwood/Smallwood in The Village District
  3. Bellwood/Smallwood/Clark/Peace/Johnson
  4. Peace/Salisbury/Wilmington/Halifax
  5. MLK/Salisbury/Wilmington

There are many roundabouts located throughout Wake County. Most are located within subdivisions and apartment complexes. Most people probably are unaware of many of these. New roundabouts are being added fairly regularly.