Is this city the new belle of the American South?

They say good things come in threes, and North Carolina’s Research Triangle of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill is no exception. Raleigh is the state capital, Durham, with its healthcare, life sciences and biotech industries, is the “city of medicine,” while Chapel Hill is a university town. While they are for sure a powerful trio, there are plenty of reasons to visit just Raleigh. It’s a destination in its own right. Last year 15 million visitors came to Raleigh, despite having not a beach or mountain in sight. Go figure.

For one thing, times have changed. To say that downtown was once sleepy is polite. What was “dead” just a few years ago has morphed into a hip hub, one where folks not only hang out after work, but also on weekends. What happened? Duke Energy sold to Red Hat, Citrix moved from the suburbs to downtown and HQ Raleigh, a startup incubator, sprang up. The Warehouse District, a major piece of downtown, has been revitalized with many old red brick buildings repurposed. Investments in apartments, condos, mixed-use developments followed, as did a slew of restaurants, bars and music venues. Hoteliers haven’t missed out. The Residence Inn by Marriott Downtown Raleigh is a welcome addition, especially with its 10th & Terrace rooftop bar.

There’s no shortage of hot spots. Bon Appetit just ranked Brewery Bhavana one of the top 10 restaurants in the nation. It’s on historic Moore Square park downtown, and you could spend hours there. It’s a brewery, dim sum restaurant, flower shop and bookstore. Pick out a book and relax at the long tables and sip a brew. Whiskey Kitchen is a little bit country and a lot whiskey. Get set for some of the best fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese and pea tendrils, boiled peanuts with pickled peppers, lamb burgers, shrimp rolls and more in the site of a former automotive shop. Garland, meanwhile, is a tasty mashup of Indian and Pan-Asian fusion and craft cocktails. Its whimsical setting feels more West Village than Raleigh.

You can’t visit North Carolina without some barbecue. The Pit Authentic Barbecue has been featured on the Travel Channel and the Food Network, among others. It’s no surprise. This whole-hog, pit-cooked barbecue passes the taste test for the most discerning BBQ fans. Not only do you get pork, but Texas-style brisket, barbecued turkey, fried chicken, skillet cornbread, deviled eggs, collards, mac ‘n’ cheese. Whatever you order must also include the banana pudding.

The Warehouse District is also home to CAM Raleigh (Contemporary Art Museum). There is no permanent collection, so there’s always something new. No Damsel, currently on exhibit, is thought-provoking. Los Angeles Artist Dorian Lynde gives Disney princesses a makeover that’s more moxie than Disney magic. Boxcar Bar + Arcade is where you can just plain have fun. Remember Skeeball and air hockey? Get your fill of them here, plus more than 100 arcade games, live music, draft craft beers and a full bar. Visit Videri Chocolate, the Morgan Street Food Hall & Market, as well art galleries and unique stories like Raleigh Demin Workshop, for limited edition jeans made from start to finish in downtown Raleigh. These jeans are designed for men and women, “who love what they do and get things done.”

Perhaps plan a trip around one of the city’s numerous fests, like the annual Wide Open Bluegrass Festival, featuring a weekend of concerts at the Red Hat Amphitheatre, plus several stages of free concerts around downtown. There’s also the North Carolina Whole Hog BBQ Championship including a conference, exhibits, food, drinks and street vendors. Every month there’s some kind of festival, especially in September and October.

The action doesn’t begin and end in downtown. Do venture to the North Carolina Museum of Art and Art Park, which at 164 acres is the largest museum art park in the U.S. and features larger-than-life outdoor art installations, woodlands and creeks. Drink up at dozens of breweries along the Raleigh Beer Trail. Elsewhere, there are plenty of places to bike and golf. Don’t cheat yourself. Explore neighboring towns like Cary, where you can chill out at the Five-Diamond Umstead Hotel and Spa, where pampering and pleasing is a priority.

Raleigh isn’t trying to be like any other city; it’s cool with who it is and what it’s becoming. Folks in Raleigh live by the state motto, “To be, rather than to seem.”

by: Sheryl Nance-Nash, Orbitz

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The Five Golden Rules of Home Staging on a Budget

When you show your home’s best features by staging it effectively, you help increase your final selling price without breaking the bank.  As the infographic below shows, the following five golden rules of home staging will help you show off its best assets:

infographic modells

Complete 540 – Project Overview and Purpose

The proposed “Complete 540” project, also known as the Southeast Extension, would extend the Triangle Expressway from the N.C. 55 Bypass in Apex to U.S. 64/U.S. 264 (I-495) in Knightdale, completing the 540 Outer Loop around the greater Raleigh area.

Transportation, social and economic demands and mobility considerations are the basis for additional transportation infrastructure in southeastern Wake County. The “Complete 540” project would link the towns of Apex, Cary, Clayton, Garner, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs and Raleigh. In addition to connecting several towns and cities, the project is anticipated to ease congestion on area roadways, including I-440, I-40, N.C. 42, N.C. 55 and Ten Ten Road.

Complete 540 consists of three separate NCDOT projects (R-2721, R-2828 and R-2829) that are combined for the current planning and environmental study. Construction will likely be completed in phases that correspond to these three individual projects. Depending on available funding, each project will likely have different construction time lines.

Estimated Cost

The cost of the project is currently estimated to be approximately $2.2 billion based on the anticipated year of construction for each section of the overall project. This cost estimate will be refined as the project development process progresses. It is anticipated that the project would be funded in phases:

  • R-2721 – N.C. 55 Bypass to U.S. 401
  • R-2828 – U.S. 401 to I-40
  • R-2829 – I-40 to U.S. 64/264 (I-495)

Latest News and Updates

January 2018: The N.C. Turnpike Authority and the N.C. Department of Transportation will hold a series of public meetings in February 2018 to provide information on the project, share the preliminary design of the project and gather feedback from the public.

December 2017: The Federal Highway Administration approved the Final Environmental Impact Statement that was prepared for the Complete 540 project.

The Final EIS summarizes the field work and technical studies completed for the project’s Preferred Alternative. The document includes a discussion of the potential project impacts to the human and natural environment within the study area. (View the Final EIS.)

The N.C. Turnpike Authority and the N.C. Department of Transportation will hold a series of public meetings in February 2018 to provide information on the project, share the preliminary design of the project and gather feedback from the public.

The three public meetings and one hearing are scheduled at the following times and locations:

Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018
6-8 p.m.

Holly Springs High School Cafeteria
5329 Cass Holt Road
Holly Springs 27540

Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018
6-8 p.m.

Barwell Road Community Center Gymnasium
5857 Barwell Park Drive
Raleigh 27610

Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018
Public meeting: 4-6:30 p.m.
Public Hearing: 7 p.m. 

Wake Tech Community College – Southern Wake Campus
Student Services Building L.
Rooms 212, 213, 214
9101 Fayetteville Road
Raleigh 27603

The meetings will be open-house style and citizens can stop by at any time.

The hearing will include a formal presentation, followed by an opportunity for the public to provide verbal comments. Verbal comments will be recorded at the meetings for inclusion in the public hearing record.

Written comments concerning the preliminary design plans and information presented at the public meetings and hearing can also be submitted until March 23, 2018.

Information gathered in the public meetings and hearing will be used in developing final design plans for the project. All comments carry the same weight, regardless of how they are submitted.

The meetings will be open-house style and citizens can stop by at any time.

The hearing will include a formal presentation, followed by an opportunity for the public to provide verbal comments. Verbal comments will be recorded at the meetings for inclusion in the public hearing record.

Written comments concerning the preliminary design plans and information presented at the public meetings and hearing can also be submitted until March 23, 2018.

Information gathered in the public meetings and hearing will be used in developing final design plans for the project. All comments carry the same weight, regardless of how they are submitted.

Project Schedule

 

Complete 540 Project Schedule*
Design public hearing February 2018
Record of Decision published Summer 2018
Design-build contract awarded for U.S. 401 to I-40 (R-2828) Fall/winter 2018
Two design-build contracts awarded for R-2721
(N.C. 55 Bypass to U.S. 401)
Spring/summer 2019
Design-build contract awarded for I-40 to U.S. 64/264 (I-495)
(R-2829)
FY 2027
*Subject to change.