While nightlife is important to a vibrant city, the Glenwood South District bears a burden of not having enough balance between late-night entertainment and daytime traffic, said Bill King, planning and development manager for Downtown Raleigh Alliance.
The area is heavy with restaurants and residential, but needs to diversify with more retail and office space, King said.
Glenwood South has transformed in recent years from a nightlife destination to a neighborhood with apartment and condominium buildings, said Alex Amra, who owns Tobacco Road Sports Cafe.
Business in the district has slowed a bit, he said, as other downtown districts have been revitalized.
Since 2010, 73 businesses have opened in Glenwood South including 19 bars, 33 restaurants, and 16 retail spaces. Meanwhile, 49 businesses have closed including nine bars, 30 restaurants and seven retail outlets.
Amra ties the turnover to higher rents, less-lenient landlords and in-demand spaces.
For a while, the street struggled with the mix of nightclubs and residential, he said, but a neighborhood collaborative is improving the situation.
Amra also pointed out that Glenwood South isn’t known for festivals and events, like downtown, but he and others helped bring the “Slide the City” giant water slide event to the street on Saturday.
Seth Hoffman, co-owner of The Raleigh Wine Shop, which has been in the district since 2011, said an increase in housing is one of the area’s strengths. Challenges include parking, nightclub concepts coming and going and lower levels of traffic during the day.
Hoffman said the shop has worked hard to create its own traffic by establishing a reputation, sending out newsletters and working with some of the other businesses in the area.
“I think as a retailer where we stand now in Glenwood South is you really kind of make your own hay and promote yourself,” he said.
The Glenwood South collaborative is working to do more to bring the avenue together, he said, but retailers can’t be forgotten in that effort.
“We don’t want to see all parties and hanging out on slip and slides, because it isn’t necessarily going to be great for the retailers,” he said.
Videri Chocolate Factory opened in the Warehouse District in 2011, when barbecue restaurant The Pit was the area’s main draw, said co-owner Sam Ratto.
“Traffic in general was pretty slow Monday through Friday,” he said.
On a recent Friday morning, however, Ratto pointed to 20 cars in the parking lot, a lack of spots available on the street, and the activity at nearby business incubator HQ Raleigh, which recently announced an expansion.
Over the years, the retail landscape in the Warehouse District has taken on a showroom model, King said, with businesses such as Oak City Coffee Roasters, Raleigh Denim and Videri operating in locations with retail and production space.
“They make their product, but also have a showroom,” he said.
The model has allowed area companies to diversify revenue and not depend solely on traffic in the developing district, King said. The key to unlocking the rest of the district’s potential, King said, is spreading the traffic across the area, which will likely happen with the help of the Citrix, which opened in September, and the under-construction Union Station.
“That is going to be huge,” he said.
Since 2010, 28 businesses have opened in the district, including 11 bars, 10 retail spots and three restaurants. Eight business have closed, including four bars and two retail outlets.
The area’s challenges are parking and retaining the character of the district’s namesake, King said.
“I don’t think we want to tear down all the warehouses in the warehouse district,” he said.
The Fayetteville Street District has the downtown’s highest density and has raised a crop of restaurants, retail shops and residential areas as part of a concerted strategy by a local developer, King said.
“It has thousands of workers and thousands of visitors,” King said.
Nearly 34,000 walked through the district during a two-and-one-half hour lunch period, which is about 40 percent of the total walking traffic in a day, according to a 2014 State of Downtown Raleigh report.
In general, the area is following a revitalization pattern - utilized by downtowns across the nation - of stacking an area with residential and office space, then bars and restaurants and then retail.
Since 2010, 55 businesses have opened in the district, according to a Downtown Raleigh Alliance spreadsheet, including 10 nightclubs, 21 restaurants and 11 retail stores. Meanwhile, 24 businesses have closed, including three nightclubs, 14 restaurants and one retail outlet.
A benchmark in the area’s progress includes the rise of two retail clusters, King said. One cluster is located along Hargett and Salisbury Streets and includes Deco Raleigh, High Cotton and Nora and Nicky’s. Stitch, Moon and Lola, Feelgoodz are part of a cluster on Hargett and Wilmington streets.
The district’s traffic, however, isn’t necessarily translating into a lot of sales for jewelry and accessories brand Moon and Lola, said owner Kelly Shatat, who opened her first of four retail locations in downtown Raleigh in 2012. Shatat said she put her heart into the flagship location, but has started asking for help in bringing in more traffic.
Traffic at her store in downtown Apex, which has more retail stores, is five to 10 times stronger, she said.
Shatat said she thinks the people who come downtown typically come to eat and don’t think about shopping, while others are deterred by parking challenges and concerns about parking tickets. Events, such as First Friday, carry the store through the month, she said. The store is profitable, she said, but it’s “skimming by its teeth.”
To address that challenge and raise awareness about downtown shopping hotspots, Shatat and other businesses in or near the district created and started distributing a map of retail outlets in an area they call “downtown proper.”
For years, the Moore Square District and its historic City Market have struggled, King said, but that is likely to change as about $20 million in public funds is slated to be used for sprucing up Moore Square Park, renovating a transit center and adding streetscaping, King said.
“It is definitely a district on the rise,” he said.
The family behind children’s clothing distributor and online shop Nüvonivo has lived and worked in the district for years, opening their first retail location on East Hargett Street in 2013. Co-owner Joanne Malouf said they wanted to be somewhere were families gathered, and the nearby Marbles Kids Museum “is a definite magnet.”
In general, Malouf said, they have pleased with the traffic but want more.
“We consider ourselves pioneers, which is not necessarily a great thing ... but there has to be a beginning,” she said. Five or six years ago, there was really “virtually nothing,” except tattoo parlors in the area, she said.
Since 2010, 60 businesses have opened in the district, including eight bars, 19 restaurants and 22 retail outlets. Meanwhile, 32 companies have closed, including three bars, 16 restaurants and nine retail spots.
Many Nuvonivo’s customers are people who live and work in the area, Malouf said, but it took a while for them to realize the shop was there, even though they’ve done a lot of advertising and marketing.
She said Moore Square will be a jewel for downtown once it’s finished.
“Once that jewel starts to glow, we are sure that other things will come along,” she said.