Kristopher Larson, the chief executive officer of Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., in Michigan, will return to Raleigh to become president and CEO of the nonprofit Downtown Raleigh Association.
The DRA announced Thursday afternoon that Larson would take the position in January. Former News & Observer
publisher Orage Quarles III has held the post on an interim basis since March 1.
Larson previously worked as DRA's deputy director in 2004–07, then took a position as senior planner for the Raleigh Urban Design Center, from 2007–09. Before affiliating with the Grand Rapids association, where he helped advance public and private development, he served as vice president of Downtown Long Beach Associates for three years in Long Beach, California.
“Kristopher’s leadership experience in other growing cities, coupled with his history in the Triangle, made him uniquely qualified for this role," says DRA board chairman Jon Wilson.
Larson earned a master’s in public administration from N.C. State. He is a Daniel Rose Fellow through the Rose Center for Public Leadership, a collaboration between the Urban Land Institute and the National League of Cities.
“Downtown Raleigh has long played a foundational role in my heart and in my career,”
Larson says. “Its urban fabric is where I discovered, nearly three decades ago, that cities
evoke a sense of aspiration, excitement, and freedom."
Organized in 1996, the DRA has helped drive downtown's revitalization through the use of branding, special events, luring merchants, and building partnerships. First Friday, downtown restaurant week, the city's revived farmers market, and outside movie events are some of the attractions the association has brought to downtown.