Raleigh mayor talks growth, affordable housing in State of the City Address

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By Kasey Cunningham, WRAL reporter & Hannah Webster, WRAL.com editor

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane highlighted the city’s accomplishments and shortcomings in her annual State of the City address Friday evening.

McFarlane discussed the highs and lows of the year, but focused in large part on the future, saying the city’s outlook it is trending toward growth.

She said that in 2017, 77 businesses announced new locations or expansions, creating 3,760 new jobs and $13.65 million of investment within the city.

“It seems the secret is out and that everyone is moving here, and I mean everyone,” she said. “We’ve had a very busy year in Raleigh, and I think it’s been one of our best.”

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McFarlane said a plan is in the works to address the city’s fast-growing population, starting with transportation.

“This transit plan includes bus rapid transit to help people move moving easily through the key corridors of the city," she said.

She said the transportation plan is crucial, especially with the Triangle still in the running for Amazon’s new HQ2.

Amazon or not, McFarlane said Raleigh needs to be prepared.

"The thing to really think about is that we are growing so quickly,” she said. “If it’s not Amazon, it will be the next company. We have so much growth, and that kind of growth is something we need to prepare for.”

McFarlane said another top priority is affordable housing.

Part of her plan calls for organizing a summit later this year involving the Raleigh Housing Authority, residential real estate developers and the state of North Carolina to better assess the needs and strategize a solution.

“I just wanted everyone to know that it’s a priority for all of us, and we all take it very seriously,” she said.

She said the summit is in conjunction with a plan already in place for 1,000 affordable rental units in the city.

“Do we need to do more? Absolutely. Every growing city in the country is wrestling with this issue. But rest assured, we are focused and dedicated to working to make housing affordable in the City of Raleigh,” she added.

On Dorothea Dix Park, she said the contract for the park’s master plan consultant was finalized and approved by the City Council, and phase one of the project is nearing completion.

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“There has been input from thousands of citizens in every form from events in the park, to gathering information at festivals downtown to large format community meetings with opportunities to discuss details with the design team,” she said. “This will truly be a park for everyone.”

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