Sep 1, 2022 - News

More than $4 billion in new construction planned for downtown Raleigh

Downtown Raleigh's skyline seen from Dorothea Dix Park.
Photo: Garrett Polous/Visit Raleigh

Downtown Raleigh is on the verge of another apartment boom that could add thousands of residents in the coming years.

Driving the news: More than 8,300 housing units are planned or under construction, according to the Downtown Raleigh Alliance's State of Downtown Report, which was released Wednesday.

  • That will bring the total downtown units to just over 16,000 — more than double the current amount.

Why it matters: The apartment growth could help fuel a retail comeback downtown, which has struggled to regain foot traffic since the pandemic and remote work has emptied offices.

  • But while office workers aren't yet returning in droves, people still seem interested in living downtown, which is growing 2.4 times faster than the Raleigh-Cary metropolitan area as a whole, according to DRA.
  • Downtown apartments have a 95% occupancy rate and average monthly rent is now $1,883 — a 25.5% increase since 2018, according to the report.
  • Just under 300 affordable units are in the pipeline, including 200 at the 30-story RUS Bus building next to Union Station. The city also hopes to use land around Moore Square to add more.

What they're saying: "The residential growth is enormous right now," DRA's president and CEO, Bill King, told Axios. "It's a really big leap forward and adding residential will help [retail] because we're still figuring out what work and the office looks like … but housing will help with our rebound."

The bottom line: King said leasing activity is picking up on Fayetteville St., but downtown's main corridor still needs plenty of support. Under construction apartments on its southern end, like the Salisbury Square project, could be hugely beneficial, he added.

  • "It'll take a while before the street is fully occupied and fully healthy," he said. "It's going to take some additional focus and energy and probably some new ideas, but we do have activity."
rendering of projected new construction in downtown raleigh
Photo: Courtesy of Downtown Raleigh Alliance

Meanwhile, the report also notes overall construction in downtown Raleigh is accelerating.

Zoom in: A visual graphic released by DRA shows just how widespread and significant plans are for Raleigh's downtown core, as developers from across the country target North Carolina's capital city.

  • More than $4 billion worth of projects are in the planning stage — though timelines for many of the projects are still unknown — according to DRA.
  • In addition to apartments, that includes millions of square feet of office space as well as more hotels.

The big picture: Raleigh is transforming into a big city — and its skyline will soon begin to reflect that.

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