Generally speaking, everyone wants prosperity and progress because the alternatives are not good.
And the Triangle has had plenty of both for the last several decades. RTP was a brilliant and far-sighted concept that has laid a strong foundation for Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill and the surrounding areas.
Over the last few years, things have picked up even more. Downtown in Raleigh and Durham have gone from ghost towns to beautiful areas with vibrant neighborhoods and tons of things to do. Some of the projects on the way are simply stunning.
If you’ve never seen the plans, look up Raleigh’s Central Park. Planners all over the country are talking about it.
There’s also a plan for a soccer stadium complex not too far from there which looks spectacular, just off of South Saunders.
The long-term plans for Wilmington Street are to take it from small, struggling businesses to high-rise condos and mixed developments. If you’ve ever driven that stretch of Wilmington, you’l understand what a massive change that would be.
And where the old Cargill soy bean plant was, well, there are big plans for that property too. They’re calling it the Southern Gateway to downtown (incidentally, that is very near where the Confederate army surrendered to Sherman).
And after all of that stuff was announced, Apple committed to an RTP campus and real estate prices immediately shot up.
Or shot up more.
Now that so much of Wake County is already pretty pricey, people are looking in places like Garner and Southeast Raleigh, where real estate is still relatively cheap. And NCCU coach LeVelle Moton isn’t too crazy about that.
It’s hard to blame him. It’s home for him, just as it is for his friends PJ Tucker, who plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, and Nate McMillan, who coaches the Atlanta Haws, and lots of other people too, who aren't celebrated but who have lives, families and history there and who care about the neighborhood.
Prosperity brings gentrification which, like most things, has good points and bad. Thirty years ago, Raleigh’s Oakwood neighborhood was blighted and full of decaying Victorian mansions. Today, they’ve mostly been preserved and restored and that’s hard to be unhappy about. It’s become one of Raleigh’s most beautiful areas.
For Moton though, it means people that he grew up with may be priced out as Southeast Raleigh gets remade.
It’s easy to appreciate the glitz and the nightlife and all the nice things that are going to happen, and we know that for civic leaders, big projects that pump up the tax base are all but irresistible. We do hope though that Raleigh looks back at how appallingly “urban renewal” was handled in the 1950s and ‘60s and can apply some lessons to the sweeping changes we’re seeing today.