DRA Report: Downtown Raleigh Is Still Killing It | News
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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

DRA Report: Downtown Raleigh Is Still Killing It

Posted by on Tue, Jan 30, 2018 at 8:49 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here.


The Downtown Raleigh Alliance’s fourth-quarter economic development report (you can find the whole thing at the bottom of this post) is unequivocally good news for downtown Raleigh. Of course, the DRA’s reports are always unequivocally good news for downtown Raleigh—the organization is, more than anything, a booster group—but still, it’s hard not to see the numbers pointing in the right direction.
  • The N&O: “Downtown set a record for food and drink sales in 2017 with $223 million, according to a new report from the Downtown Raleigh Alliance. That’s an increase of more than 10 percent from 2016, which saw $202 million in sales, and a jump of more than 50 percent from 2012. Nine businesses opened in downtown Raleigh in the last quarter of 2017, including four restaurants and a bar, and three restaurants have already opened this year, the report says. Meanwhile, four businesses, including the restaurant Provenance, were listed as closing in the last three months of 2017.”
  • “It was a good year for the Warehouse District …. The area saw a 53 percent increase in food and beverage sales from 2013, and the upswing will likely continue with the opening of The Dillon later this year. The 17-story tower will feature about half a dozen restaurants including the just-announced O-Ku Sushi and 220,000 square feet of office space. Union Station, the city’s $80 million transit hub, is also expected to open soon in the Warehouse District.”
  • “The year-end office occupancy rate was 94.7 percent. That’s the second time it’s hit more than 90 percent since 2010. … Two grocery stores are in the works: Weaver Street Market plans to open in The Dillon by late 2018, and Publix is set to open on Peace Street on the northern end of downtown in 2019. … There are 825 residential units under construction and more than 900 planned for the near future. Nearly 1,000 hotel rooms are planned or under construction, which doesn’t include the 175 rooms at the Residence Inn by Marriott that opened this summer.”
  • From the report: “At least $1.75 billion in projects are under construction, were delivered in 2015-2017 or planned/announced for downtown in the near future with several more major projects yet to announce their total investment figures. Public investment is strong with $200 million in public projects either underway, planned or completed including the greenspace renovations now under construction at Moore Square, ongoing work at Union Station and the Capital Boulevard/Peace Street bridges and interchanges, along with the recently completed renovation at GoRaleigh Transit Center. A recently passed bond package will fund conversions of Blount and Person Streets from one-way to two-way and extend S. West St.”
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WHAT IT MEANS: The DRA’s report is useful in that it puts some data points on the board, but it doesn’t tell us much we don’t already know: Downtown Raleigh is growing quickly. We’re adding business and residential space and hotels and grocery stores and restaurants and all the rest. The Warehouse District is going to be huge. Etcetera. A few stray observations:
  • There are fifty-five hundred residential units in downtown, up eighteen hundred from just a couple of years ago, and with nearly a thousand more on the way. It goes without saying, these are largely not going to be affordable.
  • Take a gander at that list of coming businesses, and how many of them are food-and-drink-related. Raleigh’s food scene punches far above its weight, and the wave hasn’t crested yet.
  • The grocery stores—Weaver Street, Publix, and Harris-Teeter—are a boon for downtown, because grocery stores make it more convenient for people to live downtown. They help make it less of a commerce/nightlife district and more of a neighborhood.

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