City Plaza

500 Fayetteville Street
Raleigh, NC

Submitted by: Jonathan Hawkins

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Why It Works

City Plaza represents the final step in reopening Raleigh's Fayetteville Street to vehicular traffic after it was converted to a pedestrian mall in 1977. The plaza occupies one block at the south end of the street, which is the epicenter of downtown Raleigh and commonly referred to as "North Carolina's Main Street". The signature elements of the plaza are four LED light towers designed by Jim Galluci that feature an oak leaf design to promote Raleigh's nickname, the "City of Oaks". City Plaza also contains an interactive fountain and four retail pavilions with outdoor seating. The plaza is easily converted to accommodate the many events the city holds on Fayetteville Street, including concerts, markets, and parades.

What Makes City Plaza a Great Place?

City Plaza is within blocks of several parking garages and bus stops, and connected to the rest of Fayetteville Street with wide sidewalks. Bollards separate the pedestrian areas of the plaza from the street and vehicular traffic.

The bases of the LED towers contain bench seating, in addition to tables and chairs on the plaza. Parking is prohibited on the plaza, although the city could do a better job of enforcing the policy. There is a feeling of security with the presence of the BB&T, Bank of America, Marriott, and Sheraton buildings surrounding the plaza, as well as police patrol.

The use of the plaza is dependent on the time and events in the area. A predominantly business professional crowd can be found on weekday afternoons in the plaza, out for lunch, fresh air, or taking the opportunity to work outdoors. For official city events and during events at the nearby Progress Energy Center, there are more families and visitors around. Although a predominant feature of City Plaza is its nighttime lighting, there is not much foot traffic at night yet, although this may improve if the Charter Square project on one side of the plaza is completed and contains ground floor retail with a restaurant or bar.

City Plaza was envisioned as Raleigh's central meeting place, so it is a prime location for both official and unofficial gatherings. It is adjacent to the two largest downtown hotels and the Raleigh Convention Center, so there is a balance between the number of locals and tourists that can be found in the plaza at any given time.

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