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
5.3.3 Northern Area
The retail potential along North White Street and Roosevelt Avenue remains somewhat questionable at this time, as Roosevelt presents a psychological barrier of sorts, partly due to the public realm, but also, to the ailing condition of many properties along the corridor and in the adjoining neighborhood. Wait Avenue/Roosevelt Avenue no longer holds the same appeal to a potential retailer as it did before the construction of NC 98 Bypass, when it was still the primary east-west route through town and carried considerably more traffic. Rather than a gateway into downtown, it now functions mostly as a connector to the adjacent neighborhoods. However, several recommendations on how to improve this Northern Area have been brought forward in this document. But, there is a chance that a catalytic and dynamic project could have the unintended effect of spreading the energy too thin in the whole of downtown. Generally speaking, the performance and impact of a retail mix is directly proportional to its compactness, which enables individual businesses to take advantage of cross-traffic and synergy. Having said that, the pace at which the area is growing could bring new consumers into downtown that would create a demand for new development. Commercial potential for the properties to the north of Wait Avenue/Roosevelt Avenue, in the near term, lies more in the creative and inexpensive use of space. Makers, artists, chefs and other creative entrepreneurs looking to start-up add so much life and vibrancy to any community, but struggle being able to afford space to lease. This area
could become the new “creative industrial” district, which would likely add a “cool factor” and support the unique sense of place that already exists in Wake Forest. With these factors in mind, and given the escalating value of underutilized land in the southern area, it would be worth exploring the possibility of relocating Dollar General to the strip mall at 150 North White Street. Perhaps it could occupy a larger space capable of accommodating the discount- variety chain’s “Dollar General Market” format, which incorporates an expanded selection of groceries, including fresh produce, and measures roughly 17,000 square feet (versus 7,200 square feet for a traditional Dollar General). The big unknown that would impact all of downtown is the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor Project, which could involve the closing of Elm Street to vehicular traffic effectively making the southern area less connected by vehicles. This could make Front Street the undisputed gateway to downtown and elevate the northern area to prominence in the eyes of retailers.
S S While not a full-service grocer, the Dollar General Market format would respond to some extent to the desire voiced by residents in the town’s northeast quadrant for such an amenity. (Image: Yelp.com)
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