Raleigh’s ‘Southern Gateway’ getting its makeover

(Steve Sbraccia/CBS North Carolina)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Big changes are coming to one of the downtown Raleigh’s most untouched neighborhoods.

The “Southern Gateway” to Raleigh is the target of a number of developers who are turning vacant lots and rundown buildings into upscale destinations.

Mike Phillips, owner of Men at Work Car Care near the intersection of S. Saunders and South streets, said the area was known as the “hood” just five years ago.

“You were scared to come over here. Now since Men at Work come, we revitalized it. They’re just benefiting from we began five years ago,” Phillips said.

Nestled between Dorothea Dix, Boylan Heights, downtown and the soon-to-be-completed intermodal transportation center, the neighborhood became run down in the 80s and 90s.

Now it’s considered a diamond in the rough.

“People who want to be here are not just the 20 somethings who work at Red Hat but the 50 and 60 somethings want to downsize and want something nice and turnkey like this location,” said Johnny Chappell, broker for Chappell Residential.

Back in 1953, Dave Stewart opened Kirby Vacuum in a block of stores he purchased for $6,000.

“This was about the cheapest real estate in Raleigh at the time and my friend said, ‘you’re the biggest fool in the world to buy that’ll property.’ I said, ‘If you’re patient and wait for it, it’ll come to you,’” Stewart said.

He recently sold the lot across the street where they’ll erect condos and his block is now home to several trendy shops.

Art McMillian lived here 40 years before moving away.

He still patronizes the businesses there and embraces the changes.

“Oh, I think it’s going to be nice. I kind a hate to see the old stuff go but it’s progress. It’s got to happen,” said McMillian.

It will take around another year before some of the projects are completed.

Developers say they are already thinking about other projects for this fast growing neighborhood.

The City of Raleigh also plans some improvements of its own.

It’ll construct a greenway to connect the neighborhood to Dix park and create a streetscape boulevard leading to downtown.

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