Category: City Government (Page 3 of 15)

New report gives insight into residents’ perceptions of downtown

DTREvents, dining and walkability are things Raleigh residents liked most about Downtown Raleigh according to results published in a new ‘Downtown Perceptions’ report. The report was developed in anticipation of the update to the City of Raleigh Downtown Plan scheduled for the spring of 2014.



“The survey was a useful tool in illustrating how Downtown has become a popular destination for our citizens throughout the entire city,” David Diaz, president and CEO of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.

“Downtown Raleigh is a destination for all residents of all ages,” said Mitchell J. Silver, Planning Director for the City of Raleigh. “It is vital for City leaders and planners to understand how our residents perceive their Downtown.


Residents were asked:

  • What are your three favorite things about Downtown?
  • What are three ways to improve Downtown?
  • What is your favorite activity in your neighborhood?

Responses were sorted into six categories: Dining, events, moving (walking, driving, and biking), public space, living, and retail.


Click this link to download the full report – DowntownPerceptionReport


Around Downtown Raleigh with Ernest A. Dollar, COR Museum Director

Interview with Ernest A. Dollar, Director of the City of Raleigh (COR) Museum:  By Anne Fahim RA AIA

Background: Ernest Dollar, Director of the City of Raleigh (COR) Museum sat down with DLA Core Group Member Anne Fahim, RA AIA to discuss the new identity for the museum formerly known as the Raleigh City Museum, and what’s going on in the coming months at the Museum on the Downtown Mall, now known as the COR Museum. They met at Zinda, the New Asian restaurant on Fayetteville Street.

Ernest Dollar, Director City of Raleigh Museum

Ernest Dollar, Director City of Raleigh Museum

Q: What are you doing that resonates with Downtown folks?

A: What I am planning is to turn the city into the museum. The COR Museum and my vision for its direction supports showing the history all around us in Downtown Raleigh, and learning about that history.

Q: You mentioned you have in mind some high tech ways of accomplishing this?

A: Yes, our mantra is Then, Now and Next, we hope to have each of our exhibits address the past, the present, and what is yet to come. We hope to use the latest technology not only inside the museum for the exhibits, but also, out in the city to connect the knowledge about history to passersby, using their smartphones or devices. We are also looking into participatory exhibits and other ways to access information, such as pop-up exhibits.

Q: How can the DLA and its members help?

A: We are always looking for volunteers to do everything from helping with museum walking tours (currently every Saturday 10 am of Fayetteville St, but would like to expand) …to working with artifacts. At the moment, we are starting a PR Committee with volunteers to find out from folks how they would like to use their museum because the COR museum belongs to the residents of Raleigh. If you are interested, please contact me at

Q: What’s coming up in the coming months that might interest our members?

A: Coming up in September the first phase of our new permanent exhibit will be opening on September 28. “Raleigh Then” is part our major core exhibit scheduled for completion in 2018. Also in September we’ll be mounting an exhibit on Raleigh’s role in helping to create Bluegrass. We’ve also started a program to link children with history through literature in a program called Raleigh Reads. And don’t forget, every Saturday we offer a free walking tour of Fayetteville Street at 10 am.

Q:We will look forward to seeing those new exhibits! Is there anything else you wanted to say to our members?

A: Thanks again for all your help. It is greatly appreciated! See you at the museum!

Uncertainty Over Rail Projects Keeps Train Horns Blowing in Downtown Raleigh


Although not well publicized, the city has received a full report regarding the issues associated with creating a rail quiet zone for downtown Raleigh.  While the DLA was briefed that the city was commissioning a feasibility study late last year, we were only able to get our hands on the report a few weeks ago.  This is what we’ve learned . . .



First, here’s the background.

It was way back in June 2009 that the DLA first got involved in advocating with the city of Raleigh to take steps to mitigate train horn noise in downtown Raleigh.  We talked with residents who lived adjacent to the many crossings that require train operators to blow their horns all hours of the day and night.  We met with the city’s Budget & Economic Development Committee in October that year to promote the use of wayside horns to reduce sound levels, and for working with the various government agencies and rail companies to create a a “quiet zone” through the downtown area.  We believe that the DLA’s early involvement likely contributed to the city’s request for the quiet zone feasibility study.

With the prospect of high speed rail, the conversation shifted.

It wasn’t long before all talk of spending money to reduce noise at crossings came to a halt as the high speed rail (SEHSR project) became the focus of conversation.  The easy answer to the issue of train noise disturbance appeared to be a matter of waiting for the quiet afforded by new tracks and grade separated crossings.

We all remember the sometimes heated debate that went on for over a year at public meetings regarding the high speed train route through downtown, and plans for a new regional transit system that included new downtown routes for commuter and light rail projects.

Though there is uncertainty about the future of high speed rail, the answer is still to wait.

Fast forward now to the new Quiet Zone Feasibility Assessment.  It’s several years later, but the uncertainly about the “when” or “if” of the interstate and regional rail projects has never been greater.  Not surprisingly, the report recommends the city “should strongly consider delaying implementation (of a quiet zone) until the timing and certainty of SEHSR implementation is determined”.

DTR Quiet Zone Feasibility Assessment  Existing copy

click to enlarge

The report does offer some interesting information and recommendations on how each of the seven at grade crossings would be treated to eliminate the use of train horns within a downtown quiet zone.  Each of these crossings currently use 2-quadrant gates that require train operators to sound their horns as they approach.  The options to quiet the crossings include the use of 4-quadrant gates, creating a grade separated crossing, or to simply close the street.  Click on the thumbnail image to see an enlarged map showing the location of each of the downtown crossings.

Harrington Street (8 daily trains)

The Harrington Street crossing is located between North and Lane Streets, running directly adjacent to the West at North condo building.  The study recommends the use of a 4-quadrant gate that prevents vehicles and pedestrians from entering the crossing.  However, the DLA has information included in a Triangle Transit presentation from May 2011 that states that this section of Harrington Street (at Lane Street) may need to close to traffic to accommodate a future light rail station.  The possibility of extending Lane Street from Harrington Street to West Street is identified as a means to mitigate traffic problems.

West Street (8 daily trains)

The West Street crossing is located just a few hundred yards south of the Harrington Street crossing, between North and Jones Street.  The report recommends the use of a 4-quadrant gate, but also notes that due to the skew in the tracks the gates could require the closure of the current entrance to the adjacent automotive business that may require the property to be condemned.

Jones Street (12 daily trains)

The Jones Street crossing is located between Glenwood Avenue and West Street, and directly adjacent to the 222 Glenwood condo building along with many popular Glenwood South restaurants.  The SEHSR route would require this crossing to be closed to vehicle traffic, with the acknowledged need to install a bridge for pedestrians to cross the tracks at this active intersection.  Traffic would be diverted to the grade separated crossing at North Street or Hillsborough Street.

Hargett Street (10 daily trains)

Hargett Street has two crossings, one for CSX trains and the other for the Norfolk Southern.  The crossings are both located within the Boylan Wye, between Boylan Avenue and West Street.  As with the Jones Street crossing, the SEHSR route would require this section of Hargett Street be closed to vehicle traffic, and likewise, the use of a bridge to provide a pedestrian connection to West Street and to the new Union Station.  Traffic would be diverted to nearby grade separated crossings at Morgan Street.

Martin Street (4 daily trains)

There is no public street at the Martin Street crossing, which is surrounded by industrial lots, and property owned by Triangle Transit.  Only a low volume of cars cross the tracks to access a parking lot on the west side of the future site of Union Station.  As part of the Union Station design plans, this crossing will be grade separated.

Cabarrus Street (15 daily trains)

The Cabarrus Street crossing is located between Harrington and Dawson Street.  The report recommends the use of a 4-quadrant gate.  However, plans for Union Station which call for the relocation of the nearby Amtrak Station and the extension of West Street could significantly reduce traffic at this intersection.  The report therefore includes an option to use less expensive wayside horns at this crossing, thereby placing it outside the downtown quiet zone area.

What’s next?  

In the early days of the SEHSR project a time frame of 2015 was talked about for the start of high speed trains traveling through the city, rushing between Washington DC and Charlotte.  Today the time frame as noted in the report is “indefinite”.  Along with the lack of any real progress on the Regional Transit System, the uncertainly will continue to push back the day when trains no longer blast their horns through downtown.

We commend the city for doing the study, acknowledging that the day will come when passenger trains bring needed public transit options to our city, and we will see but no longer hear the freight trains.

But the DLA is curious.  Many of us live downtown and have learned to accommodate noise that at one time disturbed our sleep.  Is the train noise like distant sirens that wake visitors, yet pass beneath our consciousness, having become used to the routine?  We acknowledge that living in a city is sometimes a process of learning to live in close proximity with others, for the good and sometimes for the challenging!

Let us know what you think.  Is this still the issue it was in 2009?  Or have you blended into the rhythms of the city, willing to wait for what the future brings?

Mark your calendars now! Show up at the Feb. 5 public hearing to support West Peace Street improvements!

IMG_2670Picture driving along West Peace Street, between St. Mary’s and West Street; a busy street with missing or torn up sidewalks, unable to meet the demands of school and work traffic.  As a primary traffic corridor for east Raleigh neighborhoods, Cameron Village and the State Government Center, it reflects a lack of appeal, as well as safety.  Now you have an opportunity to let the city know that they have your support in making welcome improvements.


Here’s the backstory

Five years ago the West Peace Streetscape Improvement Plan was created, originally planned as phase 2 of the Glenwood South streetscape improvement project.  But in response to the economic recession in 2008, the previously allocated $1.3 million construction fund was placed in an economic reserve account where it remains today.

Planned improvements

  • New and wider sidewalks
  • Driveway consolidation to improve traffic circulation
  • Improved transit stop with new shelter
  • Clean-up and reduction of overhead utility lines
  • New trees to line street

View a rendering of the planned improvements by block – click to enlarge images.

St. Mary's - Gaston

St. Mary’s – Gaston

Gaston - Boylan

Gaston – Boylan


Boylan - Glenwood

Boylan – Glenwood

Glenwood - West

Glenwood – West


Since the time the original plan was developed, the corridor deterioration has become even worse with the addition of nearly 700 residential units being built and under construction within a block of the street.  Additionally, safety has long been an issue with Broughton High School anchoring one end of the streetscape and an elementary school (Partnership, Wiley) on opposite sides of the street.

Help prevent the West Peace Streetscape funding from being lost or reallocated.

There is now a real concern that the reserved West Peace Streetscape construction funding may be lost or reallocated to other projects.

Let you voice be heard, as the city starts the new budget cycle.  Please join with the DLA and neighborhood residents to let the city know that you want the previously allocated funding released, along with any additional funding necessary to implement the designed streetscape improvements.

Attend the public hearing.

When: February 5th starting at 7:00pm

Where: Municipal Building, 222 W. Hargett Street, Room 201

The Raleigh City Council will hold a Pre-Budget Hearing on Tuesday, February 5, 2013, to receive comments on next year’s budget.  Neighborhood members will be making a request to release the funds and complete the West Peace Construction Plan, and we need residents to voice their support at the hearing.  You can also indicate your support by sending your comments to the City of Raleigh, and listing the West Peace Street Construction Plan as a program that you would like to see supported with city funds.

Thanks to Martin Stankus who brought this issue to the attention of the DLA, and thanks to our readers for all the ways you make a difference to the quality of life for residents, workers and visitors to Downtown Raleigh.


Low-Income Artist Community could be coming to Downtown Raleigh

SiteMap copy

A unique concept for an artist community could be coming to Downtown Raleigh.  City Councilors agreed a few weeks ago to lease the Stone’s Warehouse on Davie and East streets so the property can be redeveloped into an affordable artist community.


As reported in the Raleigh Pubic Record:

Developers can’t mandate that only artists live on property, but the 49-unit community will have shared and private studio space, which would encourage that type of renter. Renters would have to meet strict income requirements in order to be approved for a lease.

A few things need to happen for the plan to become a reality.  First, the developer needs to receive the tax credits they need; and the property must be rezoned.

Member of the public were invited to learn more about the plans at a community meeting last week, and a public hearing on the rezoning is scheduled on February 5th.





What: City Initiated Rezoning Hearing

When: February 5th at 6:30pm

Where: City Hall, 222 E Hargett Street



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