Public turns out to offer vision for Raleigh’s downtown

sbarr@newsobserver.comApril 7, 2014 

RALEIGH City planners urged residents to think long-term last week as they identified their top priorities for downtown development during the next decade.

About 150 people showed up at a public forum to offer their ideas for the city’s newest blueprint, which planners and consultants will put together with public input in the coming months.

The plan will shape what the city looks like not just for those there now but for future generations, said city planning director Mitchell Silver.

That means looking out for the needs and expectations of everyone — from the elderly to the children of the city’s current young adults.

“What will they expect for their downtown? What do they want to see? We want to make sure we think about present and future generations,” he said.

The planning process will examine both zoning codes and how people will experience the city. The plan defines downtown as an area stretching from Seaboard Station to Irregardless Café to Shaw University.

During last week’s session, attendees huddled in groups to come up with their own vision statements for downtown, identify areas on maps with potential for changes or improvement, and share what they would like to see in those spaces.

Kwame Thomas and his wife said they came to the meeting because they plan to move from North Raleigh to downtown soon.

“We want to be a part of the planning and the soon-to-be new face of Raleigh,” he said.

During the meeting, officials encouraged those in attendance to consider the little things that make a city successful, such as street lighting, as well as their overarching ideas about what they would like to see happen in downtown.

Patrick Campbell, who lives in Glenwod South, said he came to the meeting because he’s curious and excited about the planning process.

But, he said he doesn’t want officials to take too long to implement ideas such as a bike share or to lose sight of the little things that matter to those living downtown, such as clean streets.

“It’s a very simple thing, but it makes a huge difference,” he said.

Public forums planned for late May will focus on specific downtown districts.

In addition to the public hearings, those interested in downtown planning also can log on to raleighnc.mindmixer.com to offer their ideas.

Barr: 919-836-4952; Twitter: @barrmsarah

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