Meeting Notes: Meeting #2 of the Person Street Partnership

posted Jun 13, 2011, 7:12 AM by Philip Bernard   [ updated Jun 15, 2011, 4:27 AM ]

Approximately 25 people attended the Monday, June 6, 2011 at the Urban Design Center.  As established at the first meeting, the partnership's main focus will be to conduct quarterly meetings with an agenda that focuses on bringing in knowledgeable speakers, consultants, and City staff to discuss and debate the future of this important area of our shared community. Philip Bernard opened the meeting and explained how the partnership’s theme of “building momentum” was taking hold on Person Street and then began to list some of the recent successes in the area which were then detailed in the following updates:

o   Piebird: owner George Duncan noted the excellent neighborhood support the restaurant had received since its opening. He also discussed a few of the road blocks they had encountered before opening . Duncan reported that business was much better than projected and received spontaneous applause from the group for his success!

o   Barbershop: next door to Piebird, a community organized effort has given the vacant building a much needed facelift. New display cases for artwork and an awning are on the way.

o   Rosie’s Plate: Sean Gyger with Remax City Centre provided an update on the property formerly occupied by Rosie’s Plate. Interested parties would like to open a full-service restaurant but parking is a concern. Despite the loosening of parking requirements several years ago, an establishment that serves alcohol past 11:00 p.m. must provide dedicated parking. According to Elizabeth Alley, the restaurant can petition for a waiver with adjacent property owners’ consent. It was noted that dedicated parking does not have to be on-site but can be an adjacent site within two blocks. 

o   Blount Street Commons:  Peter Rumsey announced changes to the historic Blount Street houses, including upcoming renovations of two homes into offices and the re-location of Gallery C into the former sales office of Blount Street Commons at the corner of Peace and Blount Street. He expects that with the change in ownership of the row house developer that construction will begin in several months with the new units being offered as townhouses rather than condominiums. Also, a large parcel along Wilmington Street may soon be built as condos but with the intention of renting as apartments initially. Finally, the empty parcel at the intersection of Peace and Person Streets  has been  put back on the market this week with an anticipated 10,000 s.f. of commercial space available topped by residential units. Rumsey introduced realtor John Butler who will be representing that property. 

o   Raleigh City Farm representative Jonathan Morgan discussed their rezoning petition and the Public Hearing to be held on July 19. They hope to have their 501(c)3 application in by the end of the month. Assuming all approvals are obtained, they would be in full operation by  Spring of 2012.

o   Person Street Plaza: John Holmes of Hobby Properties, which owns the vacant Person Street Plaza at Franklin Street, could not attend the meeting but commented that they are fully committed to revitalizing the existing center. They are excited about the Raleigh City Farm project and hope it will be a catalyst in refurbishing the center.  In the meantime, they have contacted an artist to possibly create murals where the boarded up sections now exist. They are open to ideas from the community.

o   Former Super 10: In a phone statement, Brian Wallace of York Properties said their first goal is to spruce up the outside of the building and surroundings. They have corralled the dumpsters into one shielded location and installed new parking lot lights - - the lights in front of the parking lot match the lights at Governors Square and the lights in rear are more industrial as specified by the City of Raleigh. Wallace said that the owners hope to attract a tenant that will complement the surrounding neighborhood but there are challenges. They’ve turned down several tenants because they did not feel they would enhance the mix of stores along Person Street. While the space would be ideal for a restaurant, several factors make this difficult for a high occupancy tenant. Besides adding a costly sprinkler system, the building has limited exits due to the fact that the back of the building backs up to the property line.  Wallace said that a convenience, dry goods, furniture, or antique store would be more likely.

o   Vacant Storefront beside Pharmacy: John Treadwell whose family owns several properties along Person Street sent an email saying that no current plans were in the works for this property but that they hoped to attract a new tenant in the near future.  

o   Mordecai Historic Park: undergoing a public process to locate and build a 2900 square foot interpretive center. Current host to the hugely popular Music on the Porch concert series which is attracting folks from all over Raleigh to our neighborhood on selected Friday nights in the Spring and Fall.

o   Person/Blount Street and Wake Forest Road Corridor Study: Elizabeth Alley of the Raleigh Urban Design Center a division of the Planning Department provided an update on the proposed corridor study that will extend from I-40 south of downtown to the Circus Restaurant on Atlantic Avenue. The study would consider streetscapes, 2-way traffic, and land use. Funding for consultants to conduct the corridor study would come from an upcoming bond referendum in the fall. If the referendum does not pass, the corridor study would be done in-house and on a delayed schedule. Thanks go to Russ Stephenson for proposing $250k be added to the bond for the study.

Speakers:

Eric Lamb, Manager, City of Raleigh Office of Transportation Planning discussed the NC Department of Transportation impact on traffic decisions made within the Person Street area. He noted that the NCDOT is going through a re-analysis of how they design “complete streets,” which consider all modes of transportation as important – vehicles, bikes and pedestrians. In their design, they look at different alternatives and evaluate trade-offs. Eric mentioned the ongoing debate of turning Person and Blount Streets into two-way streets and said that if the streets were converted they would probably be turned over to the City to be maintained.  After receiving a question about new bridges scheduled for renovation,  he  discussed the NCDOT projects to replace and modernize the Peace Street and Wade Avenue bridges over Capital Boulevard, which were originally designed in the 1950’s using then state-of-the-art traffic design. He anticipates a public meeting for the projects later this year. After a question re:  jurisdiction over traffic lights, specifically the light at Polk and Blount Street, he explained the cooperative roles between the state and the city on traffic light installation, maintenance and operation.

David Diaz, President and CEO of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, spoke about the role the DRA plays in downtown Raleigh and how it differs from merchant associations and chambers of commerce. The alliance does not replace City services but supplements and enhances them. The DRA is funded through a .0786 additional property tax in downtown Raleigh. David noted that Person Street is considered part of downtown and should be considered as part of the downtown district expansion after a new plan is adopted for downtown in 2013/2104.  He noted possible initial services the DRA could manage or provide for the business district such marketing support.  From suggestions heard during a recent walking tour of the business district that he conducted with interested businesses and property owners, stakeholders, and neighbors, he encouraged the partnership to pursue an event that would build unity and interest in the business district.  He also suggested that he and his staff get to know the business and property owners a little better and explore how they might work together.

David Eatman, Transit Services Administrator for the City of Raleigh, discussed the R-Line program and addressed requests for possible expansion of its route to include a stop at Krispy Kreme. He noted that the original R-Line route was determined with input from the visitors’ bureau and the DRA and with the goal of keeping headway at under 15 minutes. With current budget constraints, the R-Line program is financially in a holding pattern. He noted that long-term transit plans for enhanced R-Line services include bi-directional service, 7 minute headway, upgraded shelters and real-time arrival information at bus stops. However, he does not foresee immediate expansion of the R-Line route due to budget and  headway constraints. He also discussed other transit improvements under study including enhanced CAT service, regional rail and identification/development of priority corridors coming into downtown. He noted that a number of open houses have been held for public input on transit improvements. Public comment will be used to develop a three-year bus service plan.  The City is also seeking input via an on-line survey that can be found at:

http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07e3pt8g39gmjc8dd3/a015zgopn0aw8/questions.

Eastman received a question about who ultimately makes decisions about the R-Line?  He said that it would be made in his office.

Next Steps:

At the close of the meeting Philip asked for volunteers to serve on a steering work group that would help to digest and evaluate the information being presented to the group and then make recommendations to the larger group re: appropriate courses of action.  

The next meeting will be held in September. Let us know about additional topics you would like to have covered. The effectiveness of the partnership depends on keeping topics relevant, members engaged, and issues moving forward! Let us know any additions or corrections to these meeting notes.  Feedback is welcome and encouraged; call Philip 919-247-8794 or email jpbernard@earthlink.net.

Many thanks to Trisha Hasch and the Urban Design Center, and to Sarah Roholt and Naudain Machen for helping to organize the PSP meetings. 

 

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