Renaissance Plan

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The birthplace of present-day Wake Forest University, the Town of Wake Forest is located in northeast Wake County. Incorporated in 1909, the Town developed around the campus of Wake Forest College, which was established in 1834 as the first institution of higher education within the County. With a current population of nearly 40,000 residents, the Town of Wake Forest is recognized as a growing, educated, upper-middle-class community.


Renaissance Plan

From Sept. 29 - Oct. 3, 2003, planners and designers with The Lawrence Group, Rose & Associates, Southeast, Inc., Henson-Harrington, Inc., and Kimley-Horn & Associates, Inc. collaborated with the Town of Wake Forest to develop a vision for the heart of the community.

The resultant plan, recognized as The Renaissance Plan for the Heart of Wake Forest, is the culmination of an intensive community input process designed to provide a foundation for revitalization efforts for the historic downtown core, as well as the future development of areas surrounding the historic Central Business District.

The planning area encompasses approximately 220 acres and is generally bound by the CSX rail line to the west, the NC 98 Bypass (under construction) to the south, and the Historic and Central Business Districts to the north and the east. The area includes a mixture of retail, service, office, governmental, residential, and light industrial uses. A variety of undeveloped properties and vacant lots are also scattered throughout the planning area.



The purpose of the Renaissance Plan is twofold. First, the plan seeks to provide policy and programmatic recommendations for the revitalization of and the encouragement of reinvestment into the historic downtown. Secondly, this publicly driven revitalization plan proposes a number of realistic development opportunities specifically targeted throughout the heart of the Wake Forest community which are aimed at creating a more vibrant community to engage all who visit, work, and live in this special place.

The Renaissance Plan effort identified three districts in the planning area, including the Arts & Entertainment District, the Town Center South District, and the Campus District. Specific revitalization strategies for these Districts include:

exterior of building in wake Forest ncArts & Entertainment District

  • Coordinated tenant recruitment and economic development efforts;

  • Improved marketing efforts, both internal and external to the Town focusing on arts, history, and entertainment;

  • Infill development opportunities;

  • Parking improvements;

  • Coordinated signage strategies, including new wayfinding techniques and improved storefront signage;

  • Enhanced facade treatments.


Town Center South District

  • Construction of a Town Green at the intersection of South White and Elm Streets;

  • Relocation of Town Hall;

  • Creation of the Town Center South incorporating retail, residential, and civic uses through a high-density, mixed-use development;

  • South Brooks Street Connection.


Campus District

  • Coordinated streetscaping and landscaping efforts throughout the district encouraging a more campus-styled setting;

  • Opportunities for additional institutional development;

  • Median treatments along South Franklin Street;

  • Intersection improvements at South Franklin Street and NC 98.

While the Renaissance Master Plan serves as an important foundation upon which Wake Forest can grow the heart of its community, several key issues need to be addressed to make sure the plan is as successful as possible. The Final Transportation Summary Report examines issues like the NC 98 Bypass and specific transportation improvements — such as the extension of Franklin Street, level of service to intersections, and concept design.

Plan for Renaissance

Urban Code Handbook

The purpose of the Urban Code Handbook is to enact regulations that implement the vision and goals of The Renaissance Plan for the Heart of Wake Forest. These Design Guidelines are intended to attach the same or greater level of importance to the overall building and site design as is placed on the use contained within to facilitate the creation of a convenient, safe, and attractive community.

Buildings are expected to be added to downtown Wake Forest as long-term additions to the architectural vibrancy of the community for the purpose of encouraging economic development activities that enlarge the tax base by providing desirable residences and places of shopping, employment and public assembly.

These Design Guidelines encourage the placement of buildings closer to each other as well as closer to the street where pedestrian activity is expected to occur. As the sidewalks remain the principal place of pedestrian movement and casual social interaction, designs and uses should be complementary of that function. This encourages pedestrian activity by providing an attractive destination and an interesting journey thereby reducing congestion and improving the overall quality of life in the Town of Wake Forest.