Midtown Raleigh News

Raleigh moves forward with plans for South Saunders Street corridor

Rush hour traffic flows on the Raleigh Beltline over South Saunders Street in Raleigh in June 2012.
Rush hour traffic flows on the Raleigh Beltline over South Saunders Street in Raleigh in June 2012. tlong@newsobserver.com

City leaders will present some early options to help improve South Saunders Street, which is considered the southern gateway into downtown.

Raleigh’s Urban Design Center, part of the city’s planning department, will present ideas at a meeting Sept. 22 at Wake Tech’s Public Safety Education Campus.

City staff will present different ways to address transit, connectivity and development along two and a half miles of South Saunders Street, between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and the town of Garner.

The corridor is heavily traveled but has not seen the growth and redevelopment of downtown Raleigh.

The city began working on the Southern Gateway Corridor Study about a year ago. Residents had the chance to share their thoughts about the area in an online survey and Raleigh also hosted some meetings.

Now the Urban Design Center is ready to talk about preliminary options.

After hearing more from community members, staff should complete a plan by early next year, said Dhanya Sandeep, a planner in the Urban Design Center.

That plan will address several issues, including street improvements, residential and commercial development and finding an identity for neighborhoods along South Saunders Street.

“I feel like a lot of times the area is seen as the way you get to Garner and get cheap gas on the way and not as much what it is,” said Anthony McLeod, chairman of the Southwest Citizens Advisory Council. “It’s a really vibrant residential area that’s got a lot of potential.”

City staff published a report in March that identified some attributes and challenges in the area.

That part of the city offers popular views of the downtown Raleigh skyline, it has plenty of usable land and it’s close to Interstate 40.

But the interstate ramps can make some land hard to develop, according to the report.

Development has been slow to expand south of downtown, leaving some of the corridor run-down. That gives some people entering Raleigh from the south a negative first impression, the report said.

McLeod said he expects it will take a long time for the area to become completely revitalized. He thinks the city could do some easy changes first, like building sidewalks and connections across South Saunders Street.

Ultimately, he believes the area could be home to the city’s newest businesses and restaurants.

“I’d love to see small local restaurants come in,” McLeod said. “I think we’re an area that really could support start-ups and new things.”

Mechelle Hankerson: 919-829-4802, @mechelleh

If you go

A public meeting to discuss a plan for the South Saunders Street corridor will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22, at the Wake Tech Public Safety Education Campus, rooms 1425 and 1427, at 321 Chapanoke Road, Raleigh.