Troubled downtown neighborhood in the midst of turnaround - WSPA.com

Troubled downtown Raleigh neighborhood in the midst of turnaround

Posted: Updated:
Developer Richard Johnson hopes to transform Raleigh historic 4th Ward into a place that will attract upscale buyers. Developer Richard Johnson hopes to transform Raleigh historic 4th Ward into a place that will attract upscale buyers.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

A Raleigh developer hopes to transform a blighted downtown neighborhood into a place that will attract upscale buyers.

Heavy equipment spent hours knocking down two dilapidated apartment buildings on Dorothea Drive earlier this week. The death of the buildings signals the rebirth of what's left of Raleigh's historic 4th Ward.

"It was an African American district that had 600 homes, schools, churches and banks," explained developer Richard Johnson, of City Space Investment. "It had a trolley and all kinds of shops. It was a thriving community, and unfortunately in the 1970s they demolished almost all of it."

Over the years, what was left of the neighborhood, which is considered part of the gateway to the city, declined and became crime ridden.

These days, those who've become the first homesteaders in the neighborhood say they like what they are seeing.

"Richard is doing a great thing for the community," Matthew May said. "He's really helping to revitalize an important part of Raleigh and Boylan Heights."

Johnson believes in urban revitalization and tries to overcome the obstacles.

"It started off really bad, but once you get people interested and down here living here, it really turns around quickly and we haven't had any problems since we started," he said.

Several years ago, Richard battled the city to rehab a South Saunders Street neighborhood, which at the time was filled with abandoned homes and crime.

"It was kind of scary then," said Brian Karim, who was one of the first to move into the neighborhood. "It's been completely transformed and I don't have any worries anymore."

These days, residents in that South Saunders Street neighborhood call it an urban oasis.

"We are able to walk everywhere -- we have great neighbors," Karim said. "It's a tightknit group down here, and we all actually hang out."

The 4th Ward project is bookended by the Dix campus and the proposed downtown intermodal rail/bus transportation center. But right now both projects are in a state of flux. However Johnson believes they'll eventually by completed and add to the texture of the down residential rebirth.

"We're designing and building this with the idea it's going to be a multi-century place," Johnson said.

"If it takes two or 10 years for those things to happen, it's not important. We're right in the middle of it, and it's going to happen eventually."

Steve Sbraccia

Steve is an award-winning reporter for WNCN and former assistant professor. A seasoned professional, Steve is proud to call the Triangle home since 2005 after over two decades in Boston, Mass.  More>>

  • Top StoriesTop StoriesMore>>

  • Williamston Shooting Sends Woman To Hospital

    Williamston Shooting Sends Woman To Hospital

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 3:39 AM EDT2014-04-23 07:39:02 GMT
    Williamston police officers are investigating a shooting after a woman was shot in the head on South Hamilton Street.Williamston police officers are investigating a shooting after a woman was shot in the head on South Hamilton Street.
    Williamston police officers are investigating a shooting after a woman was shot in the head on South Hamilton Street. Captain Kevin Marsee says it happened Tuesday night around 10:30 at the victim's home on South Hamilton Street in the city of Williamston.
    Williamston police officers are investigating a shooting after a woman was shot in the head on South Hamilton Street. Captain Kevin Marsee says it happened Tuesday night around 10:30 at the victim's home on South Hamilton Street in the city of Williamston.
  • Update: Governor Haley To Suspend Simpsonville Mayor Eichor

    Update: Governor Haley To Suspend Simpsonville Mayor Eichor

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 10:56 PM EDT2014-04-23 02:56:15 GMT
    Simpsonville Mayor Perry Eichor was arrested Tuesday. He faces charges of Intimidation of a Court Official, Misconduct in Office and Obstruction of Justice following a state investigation.
    Simpsonville Mayor Perry Eichor was arrested Tuesday. He faces charges of Intimidation of a Court Official, Misconduct in Office and Obstruction of Justice following a state investigation.
  • Duke: Moving Coal Ash Would Cost Up To $10 Billion

    Duke: Moving Coal Ash Would Cost Up To $10 Billion

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 8:58 PM EDT2014-04-23 00:58:27 GMT
    Duke Energy Says Customers Will Likely Foot The Bill To Cleanup Coal AshDuke Energy Says Customers Will Likely Foot The Bill To Cleanup Coal Ash
    Duke Energy says that removing all of the company's coal ash away from North Carolina's rivers and lakes would take decades and cost up to $10 billion, with the state's electricity customers likely footing nearly all the bill. Duke's North Carolina president Paul Newton told state lawmakers Tuesday the company needs flexibility to consider more cost-efficient options that include leaving much of its 100 million tons of toxic ash in place after being covered with giant tarps and soil.
    Duke Energy says that removing all of the company's coal ash away from North Carolina's rivers and lakes would take decades and cost up to $10 billion, with the state's electricity customers likely footing nearly all the bill. Duke's North Carolina president Paul Newton told state lawmakers Tuesday the company needs flexibility to consider more cost-efficient options that include leaving much of its 100 million tons of toxic ash in place after being covered with giant tarps and soil.
Powered by WorldNow

250 International Dr.
Spartanburg, S.C. 29303

Telephone: 864.576.7777
Fax: 864.587.5430
Email: webmaster@wspa.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.