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Small Changes, Big Impact: What to Know About the DTR Essentials Initiative

Photo credit: Monica Slaney, photographie:fourseven

Have you noticed any changes in the details around downtown lately? If so, you may be picking up on pieces of the DTR Essentials Plan, a collaboration between Downtown Raleigh Alliance and the City of Raleigh focused on enhancing the security, beauty, and visitor experience of Downtown Raleigh. Even though this is work that happens all the time, increased resources are taking our community to the next level!

The DTR Essentials plan covers maintenance of downtown’s public realm, lighting enhancements, and more. Subtle improvements yield a big impact for storefront business owners, employees, residents, and visitors to have the best possible experience in Downtown Raleigh. Some examples include:

  • Increased coordination and support to maintain a safe environment
  • Replacing and updating lighting along sidewalks and in all City-owned parking decks to improve visibility and safety
  • Increased cleaning services on downtown sidewalks and streets
  • Power-washing sidewalks with high pedestrian usage 
  • Exploring new innovations in trash and recycling management
  • Tree trimming to make street lights more visible and improve pedestrian clearance underneath them
  • Testing permeable turf solutions for tree wells in Glenwood South to improve aesthetics of missing tree grate areas and maintain health of tree root systems 


There’s a good reason we’re called the City of Oaks! Downtown Raleigh has more than 11,000 trees as part of our urban canopy. Urban street trees are so important: Not only do they make downtown a more pleasant place to walk, or dine outdoors, they help absorb stormwater and improve air quality in the urban core.  The City of Raleigh Urban Forestry division has been working to keep these trees in optimal condition and have recently come through to prune the canopy to enable a more pedestrian accessible sidewalk environment for those walking in DTR. The team will continue to prune trees as the foliage comes in this spring to ensure adequate clearance for those on foot. 

You also may notice new turf in the tree grates on Glenwood South. This is a special, porous material that allows trees to soak up the rain with less evaporation and protects their roots from foot traffic better than grass can. 

Photo credit: Antionne King, AK Photography


The City of Raleigh has been hard at work updating the lighting in the downtown parking decks to be all LED technology, providing energy savings and helping our community to reach #RaleighClimateAction goals to reduce energy usage. LEDs provide more light than incandescent bulbs, use a fraction of the energy, and last years longer! You may notice a dramatic difference in the brightness of parking decks if you’re walking to your car at night.

Building on the commitment to a clean, safe, and beautiful downtown is essential to DRA’s mission of Advancing the vitality of Downtown Raleigh for everyone. We want to know what you think! Email to share your feedback today.

Community testimonials about the DTR Essentials changes to downtown so far