This story was written for WRAL TechWire Innovator partner CBRE | Raleigh.

It’s no secret that downtown Raleigh is growing. Several new high rises, and an explosive restaurant and retail scene are visible testaments to its expansion.

Since 2015, at least $2 billion in development projects have been delivered, planned or announced for downtown. A recent report from the Downtown Raleigh Alliance revealed that more than $1 billion of it has already been completed.

Retail spaces like Morgan Street Food Hall and Bella Vita Downtown Market, as well as residential buildings like the Metropolitan barely scratch the surface of development projects that have opened within the past year. Additionally, office occupancy downtown is at 95.5 percent capacity.

“We need space, buildings going up and the ability to address the ongoing needs of our market,” said Jason High, an executive vice president at commercial real estate company CBRE | Raleigh. “Companies are looking to come to a city like Raleigh, but realize there are a limited number of options in downtown Raleigh for larger users, which is why we see a number of new buildings slated for construction.”

Opening soon is One Glenwood, which is almost already fully leased. Coworking company WeWork will be the largest tenant of One Glenwood, occupying more than 80,000 square feet. There are an estimated 47,000 people who work downtown on any given day; that’s 77 employees per acre, making Raleigh the densest office market in the region.

While all of this explosive development is no doubt great for a city’s economy long term, it also comes with concerns about traffic, gentrification and the shifting culture of a downtown scene people have come to know and love.

Chester Allen, an executive vice president at CBRE | Raleigh, acknowledged there is something to be said about doing too much too fast.

“All this development, while important, is a lot,” Allen admitted. “When you’re thinking about development, you also have to take into consideration where people are going to park, create affordable housing and figure out things for smart city growth. It starts with the City Council and requires input from the private sector as well. It has to be hand-in-glove where we are working together.”

Brad Corsmeier, an executive vice president of Advisory and Transactions Services at CBRE | Raleigh, pointed out that while the public may be feeling the surge of growth all at once, it’s a concurrent culmination of several projects that have been in the works for years.

“Our market has seen considerable growth over the last couple of years and developers have recognized it. They can see the potential Raleigh has to lure in major companies and the lack of premier office product in our downtown district,” Corsmeier said. “Although it might seem to be happening all at once, pieces have been moving for several years.”

The tricky part about downtown development is every building, permit, piece of land and commercial deal is different. Everything from energy sources to road connections have to be accounted for. When it comes to development, problem-solving is the name of the game.

Ultimately, though, commercial real estate providers like CBRE believe it’s the right move for municipalities like Raleigh. For many, the figurative and literal landscape of downtown is changing for the better.

Corsmeier said while the physical skyline is changing, downtown development is also creating a cultural change along with it.

“Raleigh’s downtown development is really expanding its footprint while keeping its urban core,” Corsmeier said. “I think we’re going to start seeing little areas — like the Warehouse District — further define themselves, and it’s going to bring even more culture and character to our city.”

Added High, “The more development we have, the more congregation of people we will have downtown. It will become more vibrant and spin off more retail and residential opportunities. This means that more dollars will get spent in downtown Raleigh and grow our local economy.”

This story was written for WRAL TechWire Innovator partner CBRE | Raleigh.