The Triangle Area’s Amazing Transformation
If you’re a longtime Triangle resident, you’ve undoubtedly noticed incredible changes over the years to the look and feel of the place you call home. What was once the best-kept secret of the South with a sleepy downtown area reserved for law offices and government buildings, is now a booming epicenter topping list after list of "Greatest Places to Move." Our humble community is garnering recognition on the local and national levels and was recently recognized for one area of improvement in particular.
Last month, the City of Raleigh accepted an award for the “Great Transformation” of its Peace Street Corridor as part of the 2018 Great Places in North Carolina awards ceremony. Peace Street has been reinvigorated with pedestrian, green, and bicycle infrastructure, and many of its buildings and bridges have been redesigned as part of the efforts to breathe new life into Raleigh. Mayor Nancy McFarlane said about the award, “One of the great strengths of Raleigh is our ability to make incredible transformations. We are fortunate to have an energetic business community, engaged residents, and an insightful staff that see potential and collaborate to meet existing and future needs – as was able to happen in the Peace Street corridor.” This nomination has highlighted the enormous efforts Raleigh government has made to revitalize the face of the city, beginning with locations central to its industrial roots. And it’s not just Raleigh that’s changing at a rapid pace; this award speaks to the vast transformation the entire Triangle is feeling and seeing.
How is The Triangle Changing?
Wake County’s population has nearly doubled in the past 20 years thanks to tech companies like Citrix, Red Hat, and SAS. Its persona as a slow-paced genteel city has been upended by a colorful infusion of culture with annual festivals like Hopscotch, Artsplosure, SPARKcon, and the World of Bluegrass music event. In the meantime, Durham has also secured a name for itself as a thriving metro. The Bull City is no longer riding on the coattails of its neighboring capital city and has recently established itself as a top place to visit and live in its own right. Artists, professionals, and young families are flocking to Durham in droves to take advantage of the city’s low cost of living and world-class amenities. Former tobacco warehouses and textile mills have been turned into trendy apartments, condos, and offices, and its restaurant scene rivals any culinary city of the South. In fact, Durham is growing at a faster rate than Raleigh or Charlotte, with a 1.8 percent population increase since 2016 and a 16.8 percent population increase since 2010. This is astounding when you consider that just a couple of decades ago, Durham had a notoriously high crime rate and was one of the poorest municipalities in our region. With a community that rallied behind Durham and believed in its potential, public and private investments jump-started the city's economy, just in time for the nation's growing interest in urban living. Since then, however, Durham’s housing prices have skyrocketed as investors renovate and resell homes in low-income neighborhoods for several times what they initially paid, and the city wages a battle to preserve an affordable quality of life for its residents and its proud identity as a diverse and inclusive community.
All signs point to a safe prediction that the Triangle will continue to grow and thrive in the coming years, thanks to our talented workforce, renowned universities, deepening culture, reasonable business costs, and strong tech, manufacturing, and life science sectors. These factors are attracting the attention of major global companies like Apple and Amazon, and have already spurred a number of sizable projects, currently in the works.
There is a strong likelihood that Apple will soon announce a deal that would bring thousands of jobs to the state and make a large investment in the Research Triangle Park. Many experts also believe that Amazon is likely to choose Raleigh or Durham as its second home base, a project that would bring the equivalent of another RTP to our region. The Triangle’s transformation doesn’t end with Apple, Amazon, and Peace Street, however. The City of Raleigh, along with dedicated developers and citizens, has proposed eight new projects designed to reinvigorate the area. These projects include the vision for North End and Glenwood Green, further development of Peace Street with a streetscape plan and bridge replacement, the Capital Boulevard Study, the Blount/Person Corridor Study, Devereux Meadow Park, and the Smokey Hollow development project. Durham’s $88 million One City Center project will soon transform the city skyline with a 27-story building offering retail space, office space, and luxury apartments. The Durham Innovation District will also help to change the face of the city. This $100 million project will result in two 7-story buildings with 350,000 square feet of office space and laboratory space, in addition to retail space on the ground floor.
Chatham Park will soon put the town of Pittsboro on the map as a major player in the Triangle. This development is currently in its first phase of construction but will eventually be home to 7,100 acres of housing, offices, restaurants and entertainment venues.
How have you seen the Triangle change through the years and what do you predict will be the result of this gigantic growth spurt? What would you like to see in your neighborhood in the coming years and what needs to be done to ensure that we, as a community, grow with thoughtful planning and preparedness for future generations? Share your opinions with us on our Facebook page!
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