What is the State of Downtown Raleigh now and in the future?

Balancing optimism, action and unknowns, the State of Downtown event shed light on what’s still happening and planned for Downtown Raleigh, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our community.

The Downtown Raleigh Alliance annual event includes a extensive report on trends, development and current figures.

This year, it also included a section on 2020 and the positive indicators that Downtown Raleigh is on the path to recovery. A virtual panel also took a long-range view of recovery, similarly optimistic. [read more in TBJ]

In the short term, people are beginning to return to downtown, measured in foot traffic and rebounding downtown sales.

In the longer term, the DRA report and presentation painted a picture of a Downtown Raleigh that’s full of residents now and a growing workforce center with at least 10 large projects under construction or planned.

More people than ever living in Downtown Raleigh

More people live in Downtown Raleigh than ever before, Downtown Raleigh Alliance President and CEO Bill King shared at event Thursday. The occupancy rate of Downtown Raleigh apartments is 97%.

And with a 93% increase in housing units since 2015 and with 14 projects currently planned or under construction, according to the State of Downtown report, Downtown Raleigh continues to grow as a place to live.

It’s also getting more expensive: Class A units are now average $1,721/month, a 6.7% growth in the last year. Class B & C apartments now average $1,205/month, a 31.2% growth since 2016. The report attributes little existing supply of housing built before 2000 in Downtown Raleigh.

The population within one mile of Downtown Raleigh exceeds 20,000 people.

Office space continues to be developed

With nearly 95% of office space in Downtown Raleigh occupied, and with a reported trend of more companies moving to Downtown Raleigh, the development of office space is significant.

While 1.2 million square feet of Class A office space was delivered or renovated since 2015, there is at least 2.4 million square feet of Class A office space under construction or planned.

Bill King asserted that Downtown Raleigh has a strong commitment from existing employers to return to their office space.

Some of the newer notable buildings include the Dillion (210K square feet of office space, complete in 2018), One Glenwood (219,500 square feet office space, 2019), and the FNB Tower (152K square feet office space, 2019).

Developments in Downtown Raleigh to know

121 Fayetteville, Courtesy Preferred Office.

Some of the projects in the pipeline include dense, mixed use buildings with a large office space footprint. The ones included in the DRA State of Downtown report include:

  • Raleigh Crossing Phase 1: Located at 301 Hillsborough Street, the 287K+ square feet of office space is expected to wrap up in Q4 of 2021. It also includes ground floor retail space and residential units. It’s under construction.
  • Tower II at Bloc[83]: The companion to One Glenwood under construction now with a large planned courtyard between the two towers, this project includes 241K+ square feet of office space, retail and dining. The Bloc[83] development also includes the recently opened Origin hotel.
  • Smoky Hollow Phase 2: 225K+ of office space, residential and 51K+ retail space. The Smoky Hollow development includes the now-open Peace Raleigh Apartments and the Downtown Raleigh Publix. The Line Downtown Apartments and the office space are under construction.
  • 121 Fayetteville: 375K square feet of office space is planned; the development will include outdoor terraces, a “sky lobby” and a conference facility. (see rendering above)
  • City Gateway: The planned “energy positive” development with 144K+ office space and 52K+ education space would include a solar canopy.
  • The Nexus: Planned as a combined office (320K+ square feet), residential, retail and hotel development, the former News & Observer site at 215 South McDowell Street will encompass a city block.
  • 400H: With 144K+ office space, residential and ground floor retail space planned, the 400 Hillsborough street development is in Glenwood South, but nearly at the meeting point of three other downtown districts, the Warehouse, Capital and Fayetteville Street areas.
  • The Edge: The office (289K+ square feet) and retail tower planned for 301 S. Wilmington Street is close to Moore Square.
  • Salisbury Square: An office space (175K+ square feet) development with residential and hotel, the development plans in the southern part of Downtown Raleigh include affordable housing and luxury apartments.
  • West Cabarrus Warehouses: A unique revitalized warehouse project in the Warehouse District would create a central green and entertainment space, and include 289K+ square feet of office space, residential and retail space.

Learn more: Read the full State of Downtown report.

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Author: raleighconvergence

Sarah Day Owen Wiskirchen is the editor of Raleigh Convergence.

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