RALEIGH, N.C. — A group of crumbling parking lots and abandoned buildings could soon be transformed into a waterfront destination in Raleigh.

WRAL News is sharing some of the first concepts for a new Midtown Waterfront Park along Crabtree Creek, covering the area between Wake Forest Road and Industrial Drive.

Right now, you can drive above the creek on Wake Forest Road or walk along the Greenway and barely see the water – unless it floods. Then, stormwater runs off the nearby parking lot pavement and pushes the creek out of its banks.

This project would open it all up for a scenic waterfront view.

The 2020 Walkable Midtown Plan identified a Waterfront District as one of seven “Big Moves” for the future of this part of the city.

The city’s Appearance Commission gave NC State a grant to do what it calls a “Legacy Project.” Nick Musarra, an NC State landscape architecture grad student, is helping the city with this vision.

“Looking at the overall context of the stream and the Greenway, we do have these wonderful creeks running through, and it’s something that people have sort of been turned away from in the past,” he says.

The posters of Musarra’s grad school project map out a guide for Raleigh to become a Waterfront City. He’s come up with three concepts for a Midtown Waterfront Park along Crabtree Creek.

One of the designs restores the straightened creek’s meandering path, with green park space leading up to a new development.

“Widening that stream bank and allowing that floodplain to flood naturally as it wants to is going to be one of the first priorities to making the space more usable,” he says.

Ken Bowers, assistant director for Raleigh Planning and Development, says, “You would both solve the flooding problem. You would improve water quality. And you could set the stage for new development to take advantage of the amenity that would be created.”

Musarra looks forward to seeing how his concepts could create a new destination in the city.

“I think it has the potential to be a world-class green park for the future of Raleigh,” he says.

Musarra will present his concepts to the appearance commission next month. City engineers will take it from there to incorporate the concepts into work they’re already doing.

Ultimately, the city says it will take a partnership with a developer who wants to revitalize this part of Midtown.

Landscape Architecture 

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Matt Talhelm