What Are Your Hopes for Raleigh in 2009?

We Want it All

January, 09, 2009, by Acree

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Cartoon by Brittain Peck

This week’s Q&A embraces that most cliche, yet time-honored, New Year’s tradition. But since New Raleigh writers are perfect already, we’ve come up with some New Year’s resolutions to encourage our beloved city to make. Pipe in with yours in the comments.


I hope that small business ventures will be able to open and be successful and that the city entertains a climate of support rather than restrictions. I would like to see small scale aspects of the city grow and shift with a greater spontaneity and creativity, rather than a sense of growth through committee. Raleigh has always had an identity and is not just developing one now. Its identity will continue to be shaped through the desires and actions of individuals, spaces and places that come and go, and I just hope for a level of truthfulness in the city rather than a move towards contrivance.


I’d like for Raleigh’s nightlife to really begin to pulse. The Blacklisted parties at Five Star are beginning to take it there, but as of now there’s only enough energy around town to fill one good party. I’d love to go out Friday night, any Friday night, and have options. Shall we dance here or shall we dance there? Come to think of it, to hell with Fridays; I’d love to find a full bar on a weeknight other than the Raleigh Times. I look forward to the evening that I take my out-of-town guests out on the town, and don’t eventually throw my hands in the air and sigh, “Let’s just go buy some beer and turn on music at my apartment.”


While areas around downtown proper have a small amount of retail (Hillsborough Street, Cameron Village, and Glenwood South), my hope is that 2009 is the year that downtown Raleigh breaks past the obviously taboo retail barrier. Over the past few years, the grid has added countless restaurants, bars and condo buildings, but few retail spots have popped up. Each of these spots have been locally run businesses, some of which have done very well, some that are still struggling along and others that closed within a year of opening.

While small businesses define the character of many cities with a similar population as Raleigh across our country, and while I want the few that actually exist (Holly Aiken, Stuff Consignment, Father and Son, Knockabout in City Market) to survive, it is completely necessary for a couple of larger market stores to move into the downtown sphere.

Many chain retailers conceal moral and ethical reasons not to shop at them, but others provide excellent products and service. I won’t name any names but it would be great to be able to buy a cd, book, hat, shirt or scarf on my daily bike ride or walk home from one side of downtown (the gridded part) to the other.

Why are we still not luring any retailers downtown? Seriously, Raleigh, get your hands out of your pockets and play with the big boys and girls. 2009 is your year to be #1 place to open a retail business, not quirkiest New Years Celebration or any of the other random Top 10 Lists you keep landing on.


To me, the best cities have a unique character. Even though this quality may be inherently intangible, my favorite cities simply have the “it” that makes them unique. New York, Seattle, Chicago, D.C.—cities like these seem to take pride in their unique identity, whether it be in their architecture, their arts, their services, their food, or other attributes. Simply, the distinguishing factor in places like these is that it just feels unique. My hope is that in 2009 we in Raleigh make a sincere effort to discover our own distinguishing characteristics, our own unique features, our own individual culture. I’d love to see Raleigh move from somewhat generic to outstandingly individual. I hope that sometime soon, people will travel to Raleigh simply to experience what it feels like. And I hope, of course, that it’s a wonderful feeling.


This year, I hope that Raleigh’s population thinks locally, to go out of their way to support our many locally owned businesses, artists and performers. As downtown grows and national chains increase their focus on our city core, I hope that our citizens take time to remember locally owned retail establishments and restaurants.  Keeping our money in the city and funneling it through the cultural establishments is the best way to help define our character.  As the economy wanes, it is only that much more important to support things that are truly local. 

2008 saw the closing of several establishments that probably could have survived given more community support.  When we lose businesses, we lose the investment they make in the community and the smart entrepreneurs behind them.  The same goes for local artists and musicians; it is imperative we support our cultural contributors so that we don’t lose them to other cities that offer more opportunities. On date night, eat at the local joints and catch your movie at the independent theaters.  On Valentine’s Day, buy your honey gifts or art that was made and sold right here in the city. Think of it as an investment. My hope for Raleigh in 2009 is a culture of localism.

Read More

Politics, Other posts by Acree.


BlacklistedFather and SonnightlifeHolly AikenStuff ConsignmentlocalTop 102009New Year's Eve


  • L
    01/09 03:57 PM

    Cheers to these ideas kiddos.  Raleigh… Divine in ‘09!!

  • sarah dear
    01/09 04:08 PM

    David, Jed, & Chad:  Right on.  Raleigh is a city in itself, it has a flavor and atmosphere all its own without attempting to copy any other city.  Supporting local retailers, restauranteurs, and business during this recession is what it is all about. 

    Acree: Blacklisted has been going on for almost 2 years.  It has been at Five Star for over a year.  For months there was a Friday night weekly at Alibi, and a Saturday night weekly at Loft with Spclgst.  Other Djs and Promoters are hustling all over Raleigh to try to get YOU to come out.

    There are parties and events all over Raleigh and all over the Triangle.  There is something going on every weekend, and the weeknights will only follow the success of the weekend.

    The only way that nightlife improves is if it is supported and sought out.  Throwing your hands in the air and sighing, “Let’s just go buy some beer and turn on music at my apartment, ” means that another weekly or monthly fails because you refused to seek it out. 

    Everyone in Raleigh wants a nightlife, but this is a put your money, and your body where your mouth is.  Few are willing to go out enough to truly support the DJs, Promoters, and bartenders that make this happen.  And right now, that is what it is going to take to convince the city, the business owners, and the general public that a rich nightlife is an important part of our local culture and economy.

  • highjoeltage
    01/09 04:11 PM

    All good ideas. I agree with Ben that key to Raleigh is the development of a unique downtown culture. Right now most people go to downtown for a specific purpose, to go to a specific restaurant etc . . . In other cities people would flock to downtown areas because they were bored to meet with friends and find something to do because there was a lot going on. Downtown has to become more of a city/cultural center. I think it is moving in this direction which is good. The best thing anyone can do for downtown is to go there and hang out, bring your friends, bring the kids, bring grandma, drink a beer and have a good time.

  • Nick Miller
    01/09 04:14 PM

    My hope for Raleigh in ‘09 is that it continues to be a hotbed of startups and innovation. I think those who believe we’ll turn this recession around by catering to the hulking conglomerates (auto industry, energy industry, financial industry, etc.) are wrong. America’s most prized asset is creativity and we need to continue to incentivize entrepreneurs.

    As one of the youngest, most educated cities in the US I hope our city serves as an incubator for the ideas that will help solve the multitude of problems now before us.

  • Betsy
    01/09 04:21 PM

    I hope that every new public building or civic project will have a placemaking orientation around its entire perimeter.  I never want to see a blank wall at sidewalk level again.  The new municipal building and the new State of NC visitors center are prime opportunities to take corrective action before ground is broken and the chance is lost.
    I hope that we will reclaim excess travel lanes on our downtown streets from through-traffic, and convert them to useful work serving people instead of cars—as New York is doing with excessive pavement on Broadway and other major avenues.
    I hope that we will treat our public squares as the splendid civic ornaments that they should be, a nucleus for attracting lively restaurants and the choicest residential addresses in the city—instead of lopping off pieces of them to carve out car storage areas, and occupying them with bread lines.
    I hope that we will learn to be unimpressed by things that are BIG and EXPENSIVE and sheathed in PLATE-GLASS, and arrive at an understanding of true urbanity—which is four to six stories high, does not have multiple car entry ports fronting on the pedestrian zone, and certainly does not require a Vegetative Buffer to separate it from Incompatible Uses.

  • Arthur
    01/09 05:17 PM

    Hope: 1) Parking deck for Hillsborough Street and new sidewalks. 2) Friendly people downtown - no snobs allowed. 3) Increase in locally owned business with good food and neato merchandise.

    Hates: 1) Overpriced condos full of snobby yankees, 2) chain resturants, 3) parallel parking!!

  • Johnny
    01/09 06:22 PM

    Acree, i couldn’t agree with you more. It’ like we are eternally on the cusp of decent nightlife options.

  • dc
    01/10 02:29 AM

    Public transit that connects Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill.

  • makessensenow
    01/11 10:30 PM

    Great points!I agree with all, especially Jedidiah. I think that the reason some of the restaurants and such downtown are not making it like they should be is that there is no reason to go downtown in the first place. If the Fayetteville Street area had retail, it would be more appealing during the day to the Convention Center visitors, not to mention the locals. People might frequent it more as they do Cameron Village, Glenwood South, etc. I would like to have more reasons to go downtown than just to eat. Why not be able to make a day of it?

  • ford
    01/12 04:05 PM

    i’d really like to see some form of grocery store downtown.

  • Rachel
    01/13 09:43 AM

    I would really like to see more affordable housing in the heart of downtown.  Let’s stop building $700,000 condos on Fayetteville Street and build more places that real people can afford to live.  This would encourage more people to go out and would in turn help to foster a unique Raleigh character.

  • Betsy Mega
    10/26 11:46 PM

    PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION and Aforable housing

  • smitty
    10/27 01:21 AM

    Today’s necropost winner!

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