Placemaking in Practice

The Challenge

North Hills started as an outdoor mall in Raleigh, NC, built in 1960. In 1967, it became not only the first enclosed mall in Raleigh, but the first two-story, air-conditioned indoor mall between Washington, DC, and Atlanta. Over the years, this prime location has seen an erratic pattern of development, but that all changed when Kane Realty Corporation bought the site in 2001 and transformed North Hills into an extremely desirable mix of retail, dining, entertainment, commercial office space, residential, and even retirement living.

Eckel & Vaughan’s assignment was to help visitors, influencers, and industry leaders nationwide understand what makes North Hills a real place — a magnet community where people live, work, play, and experience.

The Strategy

We started by revitalizing the current North Hills website — transforming it into an experience that closely mirrored a visit to the physical property: easy to navigate, informational, and engaging. The website is organized around the simple, but important, question, “What do you want to do at North Hills today?”

Partnering with O3, one of the most innovative Web development firms in Raleigh, we created a vibrant website that effectively communicates the look, feel, and vision of North Hills to shoppers, diners, employers, and potential residents.

We also built a brand-new blog for the website, “North Hills Live,” which enables North Hills to share its perspectives on trends, innovation, and big ideas in development and placemaking.


North Hills prides itself on continuous growth and innovation, and our new website is the perfect example of that. We recognized that our old site didn’t accurately depict what North Hills is at its core: a place where any person can experience life fully. Eckel & Vaughan came to the table with a deep understanding of our vision, and helped us to create a site that truly differentiates the North Hills brand from other mixed-use developments and showcases our incredible businesses, residents, employees, and visitors.
- Bonner Gaylord North Hills General Manager and Raleigh City Council Member

The Outcome

Not only were we able to create a true online experience; nearly every major performance metric saw a bounce in performance: a 32% increase in pages per visit, a 7% increase in average session duration, and a 9% improvement in bounce rate.

The website is just the beginning of our work together with North Hills. We’re continuing to work closely with their leadership team to bring their vision of “placemaking” to life — now and for years to come.

Read more about the North Hills website development success story on O3’s case study page.