While luxury apartments have proliferated in downtown Raleigh in the past decade, retailers and small businesses have struggled to keep up with rising real-estate values. In response, business ownerslike the owners of Trig Modern, a furniture store featured in an INDY story last summer (“The rent is too damn high,” July 29)are getting creative with their business models. In their case, they’re fleeing downtown altogether.
Owner Bob Drake and his business partner, Ann Marie Baum, have found a new, bigger location at Dock 1053, an emerging shopping center and entrepreneurial hub off of Whitaker Mill Road. Trig Modern will occupy 5,000 square feet of space in a retrofitted warehouse.
Even though he had more than a year left on his lease for his 3,900-square-foot space at the corner of West Jones and North Harrington streets, Drake was asked to relocate his business because a developer wants to turn the lot into (wait for it) apartments. Drake struggled to find a new location downtown, but he says he and Baum will be happy at Dock 1053, located halfway between downtown Raleigh and North Hills. And though the rent there is more than the $3,900 per month Drake is currently paying, it’s still more affordable than downtown. For customers, there’s easy access and plenty of parking, and the store won’t be surrounded by perpetual construction.
They’ll move in March.
Baum says that after a meeting with other downtown business owners this summer, she widened her perspective of what she considers “downtown” to be, given how quickly downtown Raleigh is expanding.
Despite the high rents and many empty storefronts that dot downtown proper, Bill King, the planning and development manager for the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, says there’s more retail on the horizon. Last fall saw the opening of five new retailers downtown, including Gypsy Jule in the Lincoln building and Devolve on Glenwood South. Upcoming retailers include a modern furniture store going in under the Hue and a pharmacy on the ground floor of the Gramercy, as well as 16,000 square feet of retail space under the Edison apartments on Davie Street.
“And there are things being worked on for the Dillon, the Kane project,” King says, referring to North Hills developer John Kane’s plan to build a large mixed-use project in the Warehouse District. “So there are a few things out there percolating.”
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