Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin | Photo by: f8 Photo Studios

Staying Seated?

In Buzz, May 2021 by Melissa HowsamLeave a Comment

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Mayor’s 5 Focal Points for the Future of Raleigh

If you ask Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin, she’ll tell you, “We have a lot left to do.” She adds: “This council was elected to make change. And it takes more than two years to make change.” At the spring 2021 City Council Retreat, Baldwin laid out the five things our rapidly growing Cap City really needs to focus on for the next 20 years. Here’s her hot list in her own words and the questions Council must answer.

1. Dix Park

“How do we take this land we bought and turn it into that destination park we envisioned and hoped it would be five, 10, 15, 20 years from now?

2. PNC Arena

“What is its future? Where will the Hurricanes play? But it’s not just for the Hurricanes—PNC is also a space for NC State and Raleigh’s live music scene.”

3. Soccer Stadium

“I really see soccer as something that is inspirational and aspirational. We have the best women’s soccer team in the world right here—that’s something to celebrate. We also have the largest youth soccer program in the country, so this makes a lot of sense.

“Soccer is an international sport. When I went to the 919 to MLS at City Market, there were people there, from 8 months to 80 years old—every color, shape and size, speaking many languages. Soccer can bring people together. It’s about community-building. We can do this.

“If you’re talking about putting it in Downtown South, the big question is: How do we pay for it? But it could be that amphitheater like Red Hat that’s surrounded by amenities where people can walk or get on a BRT Line and be in the middle of downtown in five minutes. It gives options.”

4. Expansion of the Convention Center

“Red Hat was built to be a temporary structure. We’ve seen how it works. But as they say, we need heads in beds. Conventions do that. Now will conventions come back like they once were? We don’t know, but we have to think—again, 20 years out—what does that Convention Center look like, and how do we get that done?”

5. Civic Campus

(The new building that will house our employees). “Right now, we have employees strewn all over the city and in different places Downtown. So we’re spending money on leases—and people are not working together; there’s not as much efficiency. And, quite frankly, the Municipal Building is old, tired and dumpy. This is our growing capital city—one of the fastest growing cities in the country—and that’s how we’re running our government? So getting that Civic Campus complete—but more than that. We’re going to take some of the property around the block and start putting other uses there, which will help also build our tax base and add more uses around Nash Square. So that’s a big thing to think about. The other thing is: OK, if we are going to do this, how are we going to pay for it? So we need to convene a group of smart people who can figure this out [via a viability study].”

“There are things we still have left to do that are important to the future of our city. Government is a process—there’s a public engagement process that needs to take time. I believe we’re on the right track. We are providing leadership in areas where others have failed. We wanted to get not only the [Affordable] Housing Bond done—which we accomplished (thank you to the voters—72%)—but we want to get this Parks Bond done.”

Mary-Ann Baldwin

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