Wake Forest Renaissance Plan - September 2017


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

While many of its students are already accounted for in the above discussion as trade area residents, the demand generated by the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) campus also warrants special mention. The enrollment today stands at roughly 3,500, and the Administration wants for that number to grow eventually to 4,500, including online students. Of the 3,500, approximately 1,000 live in the three dorms on the campus itself. SEBTS is often discounted as a source of retail demand for downtown Wake Forest because its students are not thought to have much discretionary income. The roughly 2,800 enrollees at the graduate level are typically married with kids and having to support their families with part-time jobs. As consumers, they tend to fixate on price and value. The undergraduate division, however, is a bit closer to a traditional liberal arts college The average age of its 550 students is just 23, 40% are female and 80% are still single Almost all of them live in on-campus dorms. And many hail from middle-class or affluent families and can count on parental support Furthermore, the Administration is hoping that enrollment at this level rises to 1,000 eventually. Psychographically, many of the seminary’s undergraduates appear to fit the profile of the so-called “hipster” more commonly associated with pockets of Downtown

Raleigh — that is, while they might not drink or smoke, they dress in skinny jeans and plaid shirts, have beards and visible tattoos, listen to alternative music, order pour-over coffee at Back Alley Coffee Roasters, and so on. SEBTS also happens to be the largest employer in downtown Wake Forest and its immediate vicinity, with 380 workers, followed by the Town of Wake Forest, which accounts for 196 jobs — though, many of these are already accounted for as trade area residents. In total, there are approximately 4,600 daytime workers within a one-mile ring, which constitute a critical source of demand for eateries and cafes, especially daytime-oriented ones like Shorty’s Famous Hot Dogs and The Lemon Tree. Finally, the Renaissance Centre for the Arts, a 10,000 square foot event and meeting space located in Renaissance Plaza, has been growing in utilization and visitation ever since opening in 2014. Compared to its 105 events and 5,000 attendees in 2015, there were 83 and 7,200, respectively, in the first five months of 2016, which extrapolates to 199 and 17,300 for the full year (for percentage increases of 90% and 140%). Before proceeding to a discussion of what all of this means for the positioning and tenanting strategy, it is important to examine what downtown Wake Forest’s current retail mix might be saying. After all, the kinds of businesses there are not necessarily a perfect

“... the absence of other walkable business districts points to a real opportunity for downtown Wake Forest ...”

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