Hillsborough Street closing date shifted to help Raleigh shops

ccampbell@newsobserver.comDecember 19, 2013 

— A section of Hillsborough Street just west of N.C. State University will close to traffic beginning Thursday morning, but shops on the street will stay open.

Developer John Kane has tweaked his planned closure of Hillsborough Street this month in an effort to ease the pain on neighboring shops.

Utility line moves required for Kane’s Stanhope apartment development will force the closing of two blocks of Hillsborough to traffic shortly after N.C. State students leave town for winter break. To take advantage of lighter traffic with students gone, the work is scheduled for Thursday to Jan. 5.

But the closing – and the lack of notice before the Raleigh City Council’s vote on the matter – upset surrounding businesses, which will become hard to reach in the busy shopping days before Christmas.

After a request from the owner of Cup A Joe, Kane agreed to leave the block in front of the coffee shop and Nice Price Books open until Christmas Eve. The section of Hillsborough between Daisy Street and Dixie Trail will still close as planned Thursday morning.

“Being developers and landlords of retail, we certainly understand and appreciate their needs, and the Christmas season is the important season for all retailers,” Kane said.

Nice Price Books owner Brian Shaw said the change will make his store more accessible for last-minute Christmas shoppers.

“That’s really good for us,” Shaw said. “It’s still not the greatest thing, but it’s better than it was.”

Customers coming from the east will still have to wind through a residential neighborhood behind the shops. The timing remains a concern, but city officials and Kane said the work couldn’t be postponed because the closing would present a traffic nightmare with students in town.

“Christmas Eve is always huge. ... It’s our busiest week,” Shaw said, adding that he’s unsure if sales will drop this year. “I hope not, but there’s no real way to tell.”

Kane’s company met recently with business owners and the Hillsborough Street Community Services Corp. to discuss the closing. The developers also agreed to put up signs at each detour reminding drivers that shops on Hillsborough remain open during the closure. The Hillsborough Street booster group has also provided handbillls to explain the detour to regular customers.

“We’ll definitely work on the signage for sure,” Kane said.

During the closure, customers arriving at the affected businesses by car will want to get familiar with their rear parking lots. To access East Village Grill, College Beverage, Curious Goods or Digitz computers, use Dixie Trail and turn into the parking lot next to East Village. The intersection of Hillsborough and Dixie will be closed from Thursday through Monday, so customers will need to approach from Wade Avenue on those days.

Customers headed to Nice Price Books, Cup A Joe, Guru Guitars or Freedom Auto can reach the parking lots from Daisy Street, which connects to Clark Avenue and from there to Dixie Trail and Faircloth Street. Or they can enter the lot from Hillsborough Street ahead of the barricades by using the alley alongside Pantana Bob’s pool hall.

Getting to the businesses west of Concord Street will be a bit simpler: Just approach Reader’s Corner, Oak City Tattoo and Smoke Rings from the west on Hillsborough. Their customers can ignore signs that the road ahead is closed, because the street in front of those shops will remain open.

Campbell: 919-829-4802; Twitter: @RaleighReporter

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