In responding to Hatem’s approach to Amplified Outdoor Entertainment permitting, let’s expand the conversation.

Post by Donna Belt

(Donna is an Executive Board Member of the Glenwood South Neighborhood Collaborative and leads the neighborhood’s public art.)

200fayetteville1On the morning of January 26, headlines in the N&O – Downtown developer Hatem raises alarm as Raleigh weighs noisier Fayetteville Street – reignited a conversation that has been taking place in Raleigh over the past few years.  And now, it’s come to the forefront as City Councillors weigh Hatem’s argument against Outdoor Amplified Entertainment permits for bars and restaurants along Fayetteville Street.


First, I’d like to say that Hatem is right.  He does need to move to Oakwood, if he finds Fayetteville Street “unlivable”.  Families with young children are often happy for a lifestyle with controls in place that ensure quiet homogeneity.

As a prime developer of downtown properties, Greg Hatem has contributed a lot to our city.  But the argument he makes negating the approval of these permits is based on a self-limiting premise, that it’s EITHER happy residents with restrictions placed on late night businesses, OR miserable residents suffering with unlivable noise and mess.

Glenwood South – with 5 times more residents than the Fayetteville Street District and 75 businesses (many open late night) – has embraced moving the conversation from an assumption of Either-Or to Both-And.

BOTH late night businesses have Amplified Outdoor Entertainment permits, AND residents have a process in place for working with business owners and a City appointed noise ordinance officer until concerns are resolved.

BOTH late night businesses are encouraged, AND the vitality of daytime restaurants and shops is supported by the Glenwood South Neighborhood Collaborative, DLA, DRA and Shop Local Raleigh.

We believe that what is good for business is also good for residents, when both are working together for the empowerment of all.  And certainly happy residents make good customers.

We believe that Raleigh cannot develop the vitality that entices residents to move into the downtown if we continue to stay stuck in an Either-Or discussion.

We believe that downtown life is MORE engaging and alive because of diverse interests considering creative resolutions for solving the issues that inevitably arise with thousands of residents living in mixed use districts.

If you’re an Either-Or kind of person, then the suburbs will suit you fine.  But if you welcome the opportunity to create community around models that are inclusive, adaptable and innovative, then downtown life is a great choice.  That is, as long as  arguments like Hatem’s are seen for what they are: show stoppers, rather than invitations for the kind of collaboration that defines an alive, vital downtown.


  1. Don Anderson

    Interesting comments. I would agree that it does not have to be an “either/or” solution. Perhaps unknown to some in the Glenwood district there is a Fayetteville Street Business District (FSBD) neighborhood group that is currently working with residents, clubs, restaurants and other existing retail establishments to develop an environment that works for everyone. It could include some of the elements of the plan now being tried on Glenwood South that allows residents and business to dialog one on one, but it does not have to be the same “one solution fits all”.

    The FSBD has had several meetings. They hope to give the clubs and residents what they want by working with those developing new Private Use of Public Spaces rules. This effort appears to have the supported of the DRA, City Planning Department, Central Citizen Advisory Committee, Board Of Directors of both the Plaza and Hudson, management of Sir Walter Raleigh and Fayetteville Street District Community Action Group. We hope that this will result in an environment where we don’t have to tell residents with kids that it may be best to move out of downtown. We in fact embrace the idea of having parks, museums, and establishments like Marbles in our neighborhood that are all child friendly.

    Greg Hatem has been a big part of this effort, investing in downtown when not many would. All he asked was that the City Council hold off on making a ruling on the requests for 8 Outdoor Amplified Entertainment (OAE) permits until they could see a recent study by NCSU on downtown planning and give the FSBD more time to work on a solution. This seems like a reasonable request. The OAE permit is a little too broad in scope for a district that does not currently have any such permits. I don’t think most residents see granting such permits at this time as a help in promoting more retail and improving the downtown environment if in fact what the businesses say they need can be achieve by other means. We hope this effort works and that the FSBD does not end up with amplified music being allowed on public sidewalks until 2am. I, for one, would like to see this FSBD process and dialog continue.

    “Livable Downtown” is a catch phrase that was coined when the first Ten Year Downtown Plan was developed. It refers to having a downtown that is balanced and sustainable. I feel this refers to a downtown where the environment encourages daytime retail businesses, day-and-nighttime dining establishments, permanent residents who frequent markets, barber shops, museums and shops, as well as a positive environment for tourists and business visitors. That environment is part of what we are trying to define at this time and with these conversations. I would interpret the use of the comment to mean that Raleigh has not yet achieved that goal as set out in the Plan ten years ago. I would agree and think that is why we will find it restated, in perhaps different terms, in the new Plan about to be issued. It’s a great thing that we find ourselves debating the best ways to handle success. Glenwood South worked over a year on their plan, but that does not mean it has to be the same plan used in the FSBD … Let’s make “Both-And” include kids and families. Let’s benchmark what other towns have done to handle some of these issues before we reinvent the wheel, and let’s listen to those who have studied what works. I think and hope this is what City Council has agreed to do and I applaud them for trying to ‘get it right.’

  2. J. C. Thompson

    I was present at the City Council meeting on January 20 for Greg Hatem’s presentation that you refer to in your article. I don’t recall Greg’s stating that it was either restrictions on businesses or miserable conditions for residents.

    It is true that many residents in the Fayetteville Street District are not happy, but many businesses besides bars and restaurants are not happy either. Adding outdoor music from 11 to 2 am is not the answer to a neighborhood already compromised by trash, vomit, late night screaming and interrupted sleep. Our stately main street corridor is now filled with a proliferation of bars “crowding out retail by taking scarce storefront spaces and limiting our downtown’s ability to reach optimal residential demographics for retail expansion.”

    We are glad to hear that your new system is working so well for your businesses and residents in Glenwood South. But our district is different from yours and one size doesn’t fit all. We want our neighborhood to be a good place for children and families and anyone else who wants to be a part of our community. We’re working hard to find a safe, healthy balance.

    Greg stated that he would like to see the data on your plan after one year, especially after the summer months when outdoor celebrations are in full swing. He wants to explore a report from the UNC Department of City and Regional Planning on “urban vibrancy” and why Raleigh tested in the lower 20% in that category. He further stated that our Downtown Plan has yet to be presented which will also help to expand the conversation…not an ‘either/or” but a “let’s look at all the reasonable data first.” And that is why a moratorium on OAE permits is the best reasonable solution.