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Downtown Raleigh resident Wilson Owens said he sees more people out and about, now that COVID-19 vaccinations are ramping up and cases are going down.
GLORIA RODRIGUEZ: Downtown Raleigh may feel quieter during the pandemic, but I'm told foot traffic is picking back up.
WILSON OWENS: It was kind of a ghost town for about six months, I feel like.
GLORIA RODRIGUEZ: Downtown Raleigh resident Wilson Owens says he sees more people out and about now that COVID-19 vaccinations are ramping up and cases are going down.
WILSON OWENS: I think people are a little bit more kind of open and willing to go out now.
GLORIA RODRIGUEZ: Bill King of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance agrees and says the warmer weather also helps.
BILL KING: We have these pedestrian counters that are able to count foot traffic in certain intersections, and the last three weekends have been three of the best days since the pandemic began.
GLORIA RODRIGUEZ: Downtown losing some businesses to the pandemic, but King says trends are moving in the right direction since Labor Day.
BILL KING: We saw a good number of closings in the summer of last year, but then they've slowed. We still had some, but we've had more openings and closings.
GLORIA RODRIGUEZ: The Alliance says that in August of 2020, the occupancy rate in downtown apartments was 97%. Last month, the Alliance did a spot check at six apartment buildings, occupancy about 90%.
BILL KING: We're still there even after a year of the pandemic I actually think is a pretty good sign of resilience for the downtown residential market.
IKIMA HICKS: This is the exposed concrete.
GLORIA RODRIGUEZ: Kane Realty Corporation's Peace Raleigh Apartments opening during the pandemic. Regional Manager Ikima Hicks says some people purchased homes and moved outside of downtown, but they also saw people moving in from other states due to the shift to working from home.
IKIMA HICKS: For the same amount of people that are buying homes, the leasing velocity has increased so significant because we have more and more an influx of people that are moving into downtown Raleigh.
This has got everything that you want.
GLORIA RODRIGUEZ: Hicks says activity is ticking up.
IKIMA HICKS: January through February we've seen, like I said, six to 10 leases a week.
GLORIA RODRIGUEZ: With more apartments going up downtown, Hicks says renters can use this to their advantage.
IKIMA HICKS: You're going to see, you know, some specials.
GLORIA RODRIGUEZ: In Raleigh, Gloria Rodriguez, ABC11 Eyewitness News.