Raleigh City Plaza


City Plaza Improvements

Short and mid-term Infrastructure improvements to enhance City Plaza activation and experience.

The Downtown Raleigh Alliance (DRA) completed a Public Realm Study in mid-2021 that identified strategies and ideas to support economic revitalization and re-invigorate our downtown through activations in the post-Covid era. Emerging out of the worst of the pandemic, there was the opportunity to proactively rethink our public realm, use lessons learned from the past year, and improve our policies to position downtown Raleigh as a more flexible, creative and inclusive city of the future.

To help City of Raleigh staff and Council evaluate if and how to integrate these temporary measures into a more permanent state, as well as provide ideas to re-invigorate our downtown through activations, DRA initiated this Public Realm Study to gather and synthesize downtown stakeholder feedback on the following three key areas:

  1. The permanent expansion of outdoor seating through streeteries and expanded use of sidewalk space. 
  2. The need for more permanent curbside pick-up zones for take-out food, to-go drinks and soft goods, grocery pick-up.
  3. Strategies to re-energize downtown and attract people through use of our public realm and outdoor spaces with small-scale diverse activations.

Project Details

City Properties and Facilities
Project Lead:
Dhanya Sandeep



Dhanya Sandeep
Urban Design Supervisor
Planning and Development


Chris Stebbins
Senior Urban Designer
Planning and Development


Roger Warner
Engineering Services


Lex Benton
Engineering Supervisor
Engineering Services


Lead Department:
Planning and Development
Participating Department:
Engineering Services



City Plaza as a Priority for Activation

Short and mid-term infrastructure improvements to City Plaza topped the list of recommendations in the report that got Council approval for prioritization. Raleigh City Council allocated limited ARPA funds ($400,000) for implementation of shading solutions, light and sound upgrades, and small tactical design interventions at City Plaza.

Permanent shading installations would foster more activation and use of the plaza space during the hotter months and support the numerous downtown special events that occur along Fayetteville Street.

Status Updates for Short Interventions

Tactical urbanism is an approach to neighborhood building and activation using short-term, low-cost, scalable interventions and policies. Tactical design interventions such as a pickleball court, lookout tables, and planter boxes are being evaluated for installation at City Plaza in coordination with DRA. City is working closely with DRA and downtown stakeholders to plan for implementing these short-term improvements by early summer 2024. Sample images are shown below:

Two people play pickleball.

Two people play pickleball on an artistically painted court.

Two Pop-up Pickleball Courts Return to City Plaza this Spring 2024

Two pickleball courts will be located along west edge of City Plaza

Two pickleball courts will be located along west edge of City Plaza

The City of Raleigh Urban Projects Group, in partnership with Downtown Raleigh Alliance and the City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department, is officially returning two pickleball courts in City Plaza this Spring. These courts are professionally designed, complete with all necessary court features and safety elements.

Pickleball is the fastest growing recreation sport in the nation. This court is one of several efforts to draw people more regularly to City Plaza. Other efforts underway include shade structures and socially designed furnishings. The City and DRA are excited about the potential of this initiative to revitalize our downtown area, promote healthy and active lifestyles, and strengthen community connections.

  • This are first-come, first-serve courts that are free and open to the public daily from dawn till dusk.
  • Two courts will be installed with artwork commissioned in partnership with the NC Museum of Natural Sciences to celebrate the debut of the Dueling Dinosaur exhibit, debuting April 27th.
  • Artist is Max Dowdle.

Locations: West edge of City Plaza along Fayetteville Street, behind Shish Kabob and Fire Wok.
Length: 6-months, starting early April to September 2024

Status Updates for Mid-Term Interventions

Shading Solutions

Given the unique site conditions of City Plaza, the City has commissioned an engineering study to assess the feasibility of different shading design solutions at City Plaza. A shadow study was conducted by staff to understand the shading conditions throughout the year, with sections that receive the most year-round sun being prioritized. Both temporary and permanent structures are being evaluated (see photos). The permanent retractable shading solutions would provide more flexibility to accommodate the diverse space needs of the Plaza.

Speaker System Upgrades to City Plaza Towers

Speaker system upgrades to the decorative towers at City Plaza is underway and managed by City of Raleigh Engineering Services. Staff is currently working through the RFQ solicitation processes that align with Federal requirements. Projected timeline for design, permitting, bidding, and contract execution is the fall/winter of 2023/2024 with speaker installation expected by spring of 2024.

City Plaza - Potential Temporary Shading Solutions

City Plaza - Potential Temporary Shading Solutions

City Plaza - Potential Temporary Shading Solutions

City Plaza - Potential Temporary Shading Solutions

City Plaza - Potential Temporary Shading Solutions

City Plaza - Potential Speaker System Upgrades

Project Funding

City Council approved a total of $400,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 for all prioritized improvements to City Plaza. While this limited funding will help get some efforts underway, additional funding would be needed to implement all prioritized improvements to City Plaza.