Public Input and Upcoming Meetings Project Details Timeline Site History Artist Biography
Public Input and Upcoming Meetings
Public artists J. Stacy Utley and Erwin Harris are gathering inspiration and learning about the Blount Street and Person Street communities. Visit the PublicInput project page to view community comments, find out about upcoming stakeholder meetings, and to share input and stories about the neighborhood. Virtual community meetings held using Zoom, a free video-conferencing software.
The City of Raleigh is overhauling two major downtown streets, Blount Street and Person Street, and converting them from one-way thoroughfares into two-way streetscapes.
The Blount St.-Person St. Corridor can be seen through multiple lenses: as a major urban thoroughfare as a commercial and business street, and as a neighborhood address. The corridor extends over five miles from Capital Boulevard to Interstate 40, including Wake Forest Road, Blount Street, Person Street, and Hammond Road, with the core of the corridor being the one-way pair of Blount Street and Person Street.
Potential public art opportunities include stand-alone sculptures, and/or artwork integrated into pedestrian paving, lighting, benches/bike racks, or other site elements. The Project adds roundabouts at the north and south ends of downtown Raleigh. These roundabouts provide potential locations for gateway artwork(s). The artist will work closely with the design team, project stakeholders, and the community.
This project is part of the Percent for Art program and is a part of the Blount St. and Person St. Two-Way Conversion Project.
The project runs through several historic neighborhoods, and a close look reveals that the corridor reflects the complicated history of the American South.
The north end of the corridor is anchored by the historic Mordecai and Oakwood neighborhoods as well as William Peace University. The Mordecai House which sits along the corridor was once the site of the largest plantation in Wake County.
The middle of the corridor cuts through the downtown core and an area that was referred to as Raleigh’s Black Main Street. Within this central area are the newly renovated Moore Square and City Market (one of the few non-segregated shopping areas in the early 20th century).
At the southern end, sits the South Park-East Raleigh Neighborhoods. This historic district is a collection of African American neighborhoods that developed just after the Civil War through the first decades of the twentieth century. The thirty-block area lies east and south of downtown Raleigh and is predominantly residential with working-class and middle-class housing stock, churches, and small grocery stores. Houses are densely packed and sometimes close to the street with well-kept yards and flower gardens. Notable landmarks that abut the streetscape include the Tupper Memorial Baptist Church and Shaw University (First four-year medical school, and first African American University in North Carolina).
The Northern and Southern ends of the corridor also indicate a transition from Residential homes to the industrial/commercial areas outside of the downtown area.
One-way streets are a relatively recent invention intended to increase throughput and speed for motor vehicles. During the 1950s to 1970s, many two-way streets, particularly in downtowns, were converted to one-way to facilitate higher volumes of motor vehicles to, from, and through the city as well as to encourage faster access. The unintended consequences on retail success, pedestrians, and quality of life were not well understood at the time. Many cities have restored two-way operations on some of their one-way streets in order to help revitalize street-level activity, promote business access and visibility, and calm traffic in commercial districts and neighborhoods, as the City of Raleigh has recently done on Lenoir Street and South Street.
J. Stacy Utley and Edwin Harris
J. Stacy Utley and Edwin Harris share the fundamental belief that the process of design should be rooted in unearthing the stories of individual/ collective histories and future aspirations. It is what gives a project, be it a sculpture or architectural space, the foundation to inspire, influence, and enhance the quality of life for those who it engages. Utley and Harris are graduates from North Carolina State University, College of Design. They met while being mentored by the late renowned architect, Phil Freelon whose credits include cultural institutions, and museums. Most notably the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Since graduating both have had successful careers in the field of art, architecture, and design.