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
5.4.3 Target Consumers
The Plan recommends “active ground-floor uses” as a critical component of a pedestrian- friendly downtown. These uses need to be specified as a matter of policy, along with variations based on the existing character of and realistic aspirations for particular streets or areas. The central area of South White Street, for example, offers an ever more desirable retail location, yet suffers from a lack of available inventory. Retail — including soft goods, food and beverage — ought to be required on the ground floor. Retail adds activity and vibrancy that other uses do not, given its inherent nature with consumers going in and out frequently. Whereas offices of all kinds — including those with some sort of quasi-retail function, such as bank branches — should be located on the second floor or on side streets, rather than the main street. Existing offices could be grandfathered in to a new ordinance, but once they depart, those spaces would have to shift to the prescribed use. This stipulation will be especially important towards the southern end of the central area, along South White Street between the Cotton Company and Elm Avenue, where most of the ground-floor spaces are currently occupied by office uses. There is a palpable condition that occurs here and the feel of street activity drops off considerably as you move south past the Cotton Company further discouraging pedestrian movement between the historic core and the Renaissance Plaza strip. A similar requirement should also apply to the new mixed-use projects envisioned in this Plan for Elm Avenue between Taylor Street and the CSX railroad tracks. Street-level activation will be essential to establishing and reinforcing the pedestrian connection to Renaissance Plaza as well as
The above marketing recommendation is largely focused on generating interest in downtown Wake Forest among tenants and developers, not attracting consumers. The Town, however, should try to become more actively involved in growing the frequency of visitation among one particular (and sizable) subset of consumers, those who live in its newer subdivisions, like Heritage Wake Forest. Downtown Wake Forest would seem to hold much appeal as a local destination for the demographic who typically live in such neighborhoods. Some residents may barely even know of its existence, let alone make time to visit, shop and recreate there on a regular basis. Offering more reasons for that market segment to visit downtown (the tenant mix, placemaking elements, spraygrounds, RMUs, etc.) is important, but the Town might also want to think even more creatively about how to further penetrate this sub- market and more fully integrate it into the downtown firmament. For example, the Town, in concert with the respective HOA, could coordinate a monthly or quarterly “Downtown Wake Forest Comes To (name of subdivision)” market, as part of a larger, more established event that can ensure foot traffic. It then becomes an intriguing proposition for downtown shops and eateries that could benefit from the incremental sales as well as the marketing boost.
5.4.4 Ground Floor Activity RECOMMENDATION 5C: The Town should try to become more actively involved in growing frequency of visitation among one particular (and sizable) subset of consumers.
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