I've always thought that wind gusts seemed to be stronger in downtown Raleigh than in my neighborhood a few miles outside the city. I never quite knew for sure.
Turns out I was right. On windy winter days, we can blame Fayetteville Street's tall buildings for that extra blast of cold on the way to lunch. City planners point to the PNC Plaza building as one of the biggest culprits, since its 33 stories of glass and steel rise directly from the street front.
The winds might die down with future additions to Raleigh's skyline. Under the development code the city council adopted last week, new buildings' tallest sections will be stepped back from the street. That means the part of the building closest to the street will only be a few floors high.
The new code currently requires several of those step-backs, but developers are concerned that could cost them too much square footage on upper floors. The council will look at relaxing the requirement when they tweak the new code this summer.
"We’re looking at just having a step-back on the third floor," Planning Director Mitchell Silver said Monday.
That design would still help reduce the downtown wind tunnel effect, he added.