Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane has asked her staff to look for vacant commercial space that she might recommend for recreational development.
McFarlane offered the idea of leasing space in strip malls and shopping centers to build recreational facilities. It's an attempt to kill two birds with one stone- build the recreational facilities the city wants/needs while also creating an anchor business in a shopping center that might otherwise be floundering.
"You know, you lose your anchor, then you start to lose all your other stores " said McFarlane. "And it's hard to get those shopping centers back to life. "
McFarlane got the idea as she passed by one city rec complex already in place in the Greystone Village Shopping Center in north Raleigh.
"So I thought, maybe we should consider replicating this in other shopping centers that are failing," said McFarlane. "If that could help increase the foot traffic, that may get retailers back into the space."
The spaces would need to be within the areas marked by Raleigh Parks and Recreation as eligible for the facilities. It's unclear whether the leasing model would be sustainable if real estate prices rebound. The mayor has asked her staff to look for potential sites to be discussed over the next several months.