9/7/2021 meetings summary: corner stores, outdoor dining, downtown construction projects
We had City Council meetings last Tuesday, September 7, 2021. Below is a summary:
1. We extended emergency outdoor seating regulations to December 31, 2021 and continued $0 fees through the remainder of the fiscal year, June 30, 2022. Bars and restaurants will be able to continue to operate on sidewalks and in parklets/pedlets, which is a program we started in response to COVID-19. We are also working on rules to allow these uses to continue permanently even after the pandemic subsides.
2. We authorized staff to draft a text change to bring back corner stores. The goal is to place goods and services closer to where people live, reduce car dependency, and address food deserts. There will be many opportunities for more public input as we continue this process, and you can help us shape how we let them return. I’ve written about this effort numerous times, and NPR recently covered our efforts, you can read more here.
3. We approved a text change to allow digital signs downtown. The change allows large venues, like the Raleigh Convention Center and Performing Arts Complex to install and use large LCD, LED, and projections to display content such as upcoming events and performances. These signs will position our venues to be more competitive with hosting events and performances, and overall make the city feel more lively. Oddly, we were the only major city in NC that did not allow these signs. On a related effort, we authorized staff to also explore funding options for the purchase and installation of a large-scale LED screen downtown that the city can use to play Canes games, soccer games, and other major events as a means to attract visitors and encourage business; this was a recommendation of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance in their Public Realm Study.
4. We approved encroachment agreements for work related to the new Hilton-branded hotel being constructed near Moore Square on Davie Street and the new 400H office and residential tower. Construction recently started on both projects.
5. We approved a “Sister Cities” relationship with Gibraltar. The relationship will strive to build meaningful partnerships between Raleigh and Gibraltar, highlighting each location’s commitment to education, innovation, sustainability, and diversity. To date, there have already been several successful collaborations with the Gibraltarian government, StartupGrind Gibraltar, NC State University, and local Raleigh businesses. A delegation from Gibraltar is planning a visit to Raleigh in Spring 2022.
Our next regular City Council meeting is next Tuesday, September 21, 2021 at 1 p.m., virtually. We have a virtual work session this afternoon, September 14, 2021 at 4 p.m.