2017 R ena i s s anc e P l an U pdat e | T own of W ak e F or e s t
retail mix more effectively — certainly if it desires to expand and elevate its retail mix beyond what exists at present, which would be highly advantageous for the future success of the Town. Fortunately, the unrelenting sprawl of northern Wake County and the absence of other walkable business districts points to a real opportunity for downtown Wake Forest to differentiate itself from the aforementioned competition and thereby tap a far wider trade area. It could appeal to the large number of working parents in this corner of the metro by positioning itself as a small-town antidote to their busy and harried lifestyles. Downtown Wake Forest already starts from a position of strength in this regard. It presents a historic and architecturally coherent “Main Street” (South White Street) with a hardware store, book store, coffee shop, community-minded bank, “Second Friday” event, to name a few. It has been blessed with a collection of outstanding merchants, who have masterfully negotiated the demographic transition of the last fifteen years and modified their offerings to draw newer arrivals. More to the point, a growing number of its businesses have managed to establish destination appeal, drawing from well beyond the town’s borders. Examples include White Street Brewing, Over The
Falls and the Olde English Tea Room. These kinds of unique “one-off” concepts can theoretically pull from further afield than the large national and regional chains along Capital Boulevard/US 1 that have opened multiple locations across the metro. If we understand downtown Wake Forest, as the destination downtown for an otherwise sprawling and center-less catchment area, the nature of the “competition” and the drawing of the trade area changes. We no longer account for conventional shopping centers like Wake Forest Crossing or Triangle Town Center, but focus instead on historic Main Street business districts or, in lieu thereof, on manufactured ones such as Triangle Commons, Lafayette Village and North Hills.
5.1.2 What is the Relevant Competition?
The manufactured districts referenced above compete with downtown Wake Forest inasmuch as they are designed as open-air, walkable environments. However, Triangle Town Center’s “Commons” addition has struggled with vacancy and foot traffic, and in the best of circumstances, would likely emphasize large national brands. The mix at North Hills also skews more toward chains as well as higher-end shops. Of the three, Lafayette Village, with its sharper focus on unique boutiques, would be Downtown’s most direct rival, though it is relatively modest in size, with, for
X X The large number of families with
children in the Main Street trade area, combined with the growing contingent of undergraduates at SEBTS, represent possible sub-markets for a more contemporary “diner” concept with some sort of unique twist that differentiates it from Waffle House and gives it a destination appeal.
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