Report: Downtown Raleigh attracting younger residents

ccampbell@newsobserver.comMay 5, 2014 

— Downtown’s growth is being fueled by the explosion in new apartments that attract younger residents, according to an annual report on the city center.

The Downtown Raleigh Alliance has released its State of Downtown Raleigh 2014 report, a 58-page collection of statistics about the area. The subtitle of this year’s document is a nod to the young demographics and growing tech presence: “An Urban Convergence of Youth and Technology.”

The group’s president, David Diaz, said he’s noticed a shift away from owner-occupied condominiums – the driver of downtown residential growth a decade ago – toward new apartment buildings. More than 2,200 housing units are currently planned or under construction.

“I think the downtown is going to get much younger,” Diaz said, pointing to statistics that show that median age of an urban Raleigh resident is 30.1.

Already, one out of four downtown residents is between the ages of 25 and 34, according to the report.

The growth of tech companies also drive the trend, with an average employee age of 28. Red Hat is already headquartered downtown, and Citrix is expected to open its new office in the Warehouse District this August.

Diaz said he expects the growth will lead to more small shops downtown. Most of downtown’s initial revitalization focused on restaurants and bars.

“We’ve gotten a few calls from small retailers in other cities in North Carolina asking about a location in downtown Raleigh,” he said. “They range from a bakery or chocolate store to accessories and things like that.”

Diaz also expects to see downtown’s separate districts growing seamlessly together in the coming years. One area of interest is Hillsborough Street between the state Capitol and Glenwood South, when of downtown’s few remaining areas with vacant storefronts.

“If I were a developer, I’d be buying up buildings along Hillsborough all the way to St. Mary’s,” he said.

By the numbers

$343 million: Value of the eight development projects completed last year

2,257: Number of residential rentals planned and under construction

5.45 percent: Downtown’s vacancy rate

18.18 percent: Atlanta’s downtown vacancy rate

44: New street level businesses opening in 2013

1.03 million: Visitors to the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, downtown’s top attraction

85: The number of start-up companies in downtown’s two entrepreneurial incubators

246: Outdoor events in 2013 (a 128 percent increase)

Campbell: 919-829-4802; Twitter: @RaleighReporter

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