An old bowling alley on Capital Boulevard will be demolished as part of ongoing efforts to revitalize the business corridor and to lower insurance rates by phasing out buildings susceptible to flood damage.
The city plans to knock down the former AMF Bowling at 1827 Capital Blvd. within two months; a nearby access bridge that crosses Pigeon House Creek is also scheduled for demolition as part of the project.
City officials hope to replace unsightly warehouses that line Capital and the road itself in coming decades with a modern corridor that has a green median and network of greenways and parallel streets to serve cyclists and pedestrians.
The cost of the public projects is expected to total about $60 million. They will be completed in phases with local, state and federal dollars available for everything from stream restoration to highway bridge replacement. The old bowling alley and surrounding land was acquired by the city last April for $1.1 million.
Councilman Randy Stagner represents areas along Capital Boulevard in North Raleigh. He said tearing down the old bowling alley serves several purposes relevant to the bigger picture: creating more open space, getting rid of a flood-prone property and making the main stretch of road that leads downtown easier on the eyes.
“The corridor has not been an area that’s been really conducive to industry and business,” Stagner said. “But once it’s developed, there will be a great deal of opportunity on the edges. The whole area near (the old bowling alley) will become more park-like, but businesses will have opportunities in new places.”
Danny Bowden, stormwater utility manager for the city, said local business owners eventually will receive measurable benefits from the teardown.
Everyone pays when a building floods often, Bowden said, because insurance companies raise rates based on the amount paid to policyholders to compensate for damage. Even those who own property away from high-risk areas end up footing part of the bill.
“There’s the combination of environmental and economic benefits in (this) project,” Bowden said. “All that really ties together nicely for what we’re trying to do with stormwater improvement projects.”
Restoration of nearby Pigeon House Creek to its natural state is planned after the demolition, though a timeline has not been set. The goal is to alleviate nutrient problems in the water and sediment.
One of the visible effects of pollution and excessive nitrogen in the creek is the tendency for algal blooms to form. Dense algae depletes oxygen from the water and can kill fish.
Around Capital Boulevard and elsewhere in Raleigh, the city has identified properties that suffer repetitive flood damage by looking at data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Another project that resulted from the data was completed last summer. Two houses on Woodlea Drive, just northeast of the intersection of Capital Boulevard and the Beltline, were demolished at a cost of $350,000.
Property owners opt in voluntarily and are not forced to participate in the program, but the city hopes FEMA grants will help facilitate their efforts.
“There are a lot of federal dollars out there, and they’ll expect some contribution from us, but we’ll have some help as we buy out properties,” Stagner said. “It’s going to take a great deal of effort, but the corridor will be transformed into something everyone in Raleigh can be proud of.”