Street changes will smooth downtown Raleigh's flow

November 7, 2013 

Raleigh developer Richard Johnson has been on the cutting edge of projects between Boylan Heights and downtown Raleigh, and he’s among those relieved that the city is going to restore two-way traffic on South and Lenoir streets on downtown’s edge.

The one-way designations, Johnson told The News & Observer, were part of a plan to get people “out of there in their cars as fast as possible.” But now the once rundown area is seeing new development as more young professionals seek an urban lifestyle that’s not necessarily high-rise apartment style living. They’re looking for affordable houses near downtown such as those in Johnson’s development in Rosengarten Park.

To keep development on track, traffic has to slow down, and there must be on-street parking and room for cyclists and walkers.

That’s part of the city’s plan, and developers such as Johnson have helped to make things happen. It’s hard to break old habits, particularly when they have to do with street direction and every planner’s nightmare, parking. In some ways, Raleigh has been slow to change, set in its development ways, perhaps, but former Mayor Charles Meeker, a long-time resident of Boylan Heights, helped to push things in a more forward-thinking direction in his 10 years in office.

Raleigh Planning Director Mitch Silver also has been open-minded about more daring development. For pioneers such as Johnson, who was advocating new ideas in downtown before it was the fashion, it’s about time, no doubt. But the creative things happening, and the things that have happened, for example, along Glenwood South are promising signs for the future.

About time? Yes, but at least in Raleigh that time has come.

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