Is Raleigh's Southern Gateway on the Brink of Change?

From the News & Observer...

A processing plant that has been seen as an impediment to revitalizing Raleigh’s southern “gateway” is being demolished.

The owner, Minnesota-based Cargill, says it doesn’t yet have plans for the 10 acres between South Wilmington and South Blount streets. But the plant’s demolition has sparked interest from developers scouting the last major redevelopment area outside of downtown.

”Things are moving faster than we thought,” said Dhanya Sandeep, a planner with the city’s Urban Design Center. “The private sector is moving fast.”

Sandeep said the property had been considered the most long-range and speculative of four focus areas that comprise city planners’ vision for Raleigh’s southern gateway, primarily because it would require moving the plant.

The Cargill operations sit amid the blur of dilapidated buildings and bland landscape along the approach to downtown. Mostly idle since 2014, the plant once processed cottonseed oil and then dog food before turning to soybeans in 1985.

A study completed by the city last year envisions a massive makeover of the area that entails re-routing streets and building mixed-use offices and residences to create an attractive welcome to the capital city. Part of the revitalization strategy anticipated Cargill moving its plant somewhere else.

Raleigh city planners in 2013 began talking to businesses, residents and others about what people would like to see as they approach the city from the south. Last year they came up with recommendations that, if implemented, would transform the area into something unrecognizable. But that won’t happen unless public and private money is put into it.

”Everybody agrees with the vision, the recommendations the community and elected officials believe have merit,” Sandeep said. “But that doesn’t mean we have money allocated as yet to make it all happen.”

Changing the south side will take a lot of work, such as creating roads that connect neighborhoods rather than divide them, improving infrastructure, protecting natural resources, and making pedestrians feel they won’t be victimized by a crime on the greenway trails that run through the area, or be hit by a car during heavy traffic. Also, the city owns a substantial amount of property in the area, including a homeless shelter. ...
— Craig Jarvis - N&O
Brent Woodcox