The three-mile walk from Raleigh’s future Greyhound bus station in a forlorn strip mall on Capital Boulevard to the heart of downtown is probably best made by a seasoned hobo. The pedestrian has to navigate concrete-strewn underpasses, muddy potted back roads and grassy medians before walking along the snarling shoulder of Capital Boulevard, past porno stores and chop shops. There are no sidewalks for the first mile and a half.
And yet, this is a trek that some travelers may be making soon. Although Greyhound has been in its downtown terminal at 314 W. Jones St, since 1969, it sold the prime location nearly a year ago to developer Ted Reynolds for $4.75 million, according to public records. This month the bus company will move into its new terminalthe former Hideaway BBQ restaurant in front of the desolate Raleigh Flea Market Mallwhere it will likely stay for 10 years. A source who asked not to be named said Reynolds helped Greyhound find the Hideaway BBQ location.
Reynolds is best known for developing the Quorum Center, a high-rise condo complex that was the first of its kind in downtown Raleigh. It kicked off a trend of upscale developments, such as Hue, and now a surplus of condos downtown. At least six major condo projects are under construction in downtown Raleigh this year.
Reynolds did not return multiple phone calls or e-mails inquiring about his plans for the Greyhound terminal site, but David Diaz, president of Downtown Raleigh Alliance, said he had heard it would be redeveloped into hotels and office space. Reynolds’ last major development projecta plan to put two hotels and an office on a site at 301 Hillsborough St.disintegrated in 2009. He blamed the Great Recession for the project’s collapse.
Greyhound’s departure also plays conveniently into the city’s redevelopment plans. Diaz said, “While I think the Greyhound bus station creates a sense of hustle and bustle that you want in the downtown by virtue of the riders coming on and off, we think a new development there is going to bring more ongoing activity on a day to day basis.” He added that he hoped any new development would help link the Glenwood South neighborhood to downtown.
A nexus of poor people, taxi drivers and bus travelers also doesn’t quite fit into Raleigh’s new creative class vision for itself. “Their facility was rundown,” City councilor Mary Anne Baldwin said, “It didn’t connect with anything either.”
Through a spokesperson, Greyhound said the new location on Capital Boulevard was “more convenient” and “overall better for our customers as the downtown location can be a bit congested and busy.”
A number of city officials and downtown advocates reiterated this point, saying that the new terminal, out in the sprawl, will be more “convenient.”
This is, at best, wishful thinking. There are no places to eat or drink in walking distance. In fact, there is nowhere to walk at all. Cab fares to and from the new terminal will be pricier, unless you’re coming from Rolesville. Most people ride Greyhound because they can’t afford to take Amtrak or to fly.
The new terminal also frustrated Raleigh taxi drivers, who depend in part on ferrying Greyhound passengers for their survival. “It’s no good,” said Guerrar, a driver for City Cab, “They don’t care about us.”
While the downtown station allows five taxis to wait outside the station, several cab drivers say that the new terminal on Capital Boulevard has spaces for only two cabs. “We need the police department to help us, we need space for at least five cars,” Guerrar said.
The Raleigh Greyhound office had no comment.
Raleigh City Planner Mitch Silver and Grant Meacci, head of the Urban Design Center, said they would like Greyhound to move back downtown and be incorporated into Union Station once it is built. “We spoke to Greyhound. We would like to see them move back into the hub. I don’t know how long it’s going to take,” Silver said.
Phase 1 of Union Station is exclusively for Amtrak, but Phase 2about seven to 10 years down the linewill include other forms of transit.
“It starts with rail,” Raleigh Assistant City Manager Dan Howe said.
Raleigh city officials predict that 2014 will be their big year for transit. But apparently Greyhound riders coming to the Capital City have been left out of that equation. The year of transit will mostly be focused on “improving local bus service and TTA,” Howe clarified. “There won’t be any specific shuttles going to and from the Greyhound station. We’ve got good taxi service and good transit service and we’re hoping people will make their way downtown.”
Maybe in a decade Greyhound will return to downtown. Maybe. Until then, a Capital Area Transit bus stop in front of the new terminal will have to suffice. Howe said CAT hopes to run 15-minute service downtown. However, he admitted it would be difficult with luggage.
This article appeared in print with the headline “Kicked to the curb.”