Three bold ideas for downtown Raleigh’s future

Posted by Colin Campbell on March 14, 2014 

SPARKCON-NE-091312-TEL

Sean Bannard of Rival Skate Team performs a stunt during the opening ceremony of SparkCon in 2012 in downtown Raleigh.

TRAVIS LONG — tlong@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

Raleigh’s new downtown planning process has barely begun, but big ideas for the city center are already flowing in.

Consultants working on the plan have been seeking input on an online forum, raleighnc.mindmixer.com. Here’s a few of the boldest ideas suggested so far – they might not be feasible, but we can all dream, right?

Replace the parking lot in front of Memorial Auditorium with a large water feature: A forum user identified as “Mark E.” explained the idea. “A signature feature system or statement water piece built into the downtown would enhance the city aesthetic. I could imagine a giant fountain with grass around it between Meymandi Concert Hall and Charter Square (where the ugly cement parking is). Having a picnic there on a summer night then catching a show would be great!”

Water features have proved popular on the forum so far, with others suggesting that the interchange at Western Boulevard and McDowell Street be replaced with a lake.

A velodrome on Capital Boulevard: The city already has plans to raze a cluster of flood-prone buildings along Pigeon House Branch and create a small park. Forum user “Jim M.” thinks the site could be ideal for a cycling center with “a community outreach program to get kids on bikes and racing.”

Crosswalk markings as public art: Raleigh planning director Mitchell Silver sparked a Twitter discussion when he posted an article about rainbow crosswalk markings in San Francisco’s Castro district. Silver said that artist-designed pavement markings are an example of “public safety meets public art” that will be discussed at the next downtown plan visioning session on April 2.

That meeting will be held in Room 306 at the Raleigh Convention Center from 6 to 8 p.m. In the meantime, downtown fans can participate in an Instagram photo contest.

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