City makes offer to buy Dorothea Dix property

Posted April 2, 2014

Dorothea Dix property in fall

— Raleigh has made a $38 million offer to buy the Dorothea Dix property – 307 acres boosters hope to turn into a regional park. 

Under the agreement, the city would lease 40 acres of the site back to the state for 15 years while the Department of Health and Human Services looks for a new location for its administrative offices. A summary of the offer also would require the state to pay for environmental cleanup costs. Dorothea Dix Campus City of Raleigh offer to buy the Dorothea Dix property

"As of today, the city has not received a response," said Mike Williams, a spokesman for Raleigh.

Josh Ellis, a spokesman for Gov. Pat McCrory, acknowledged the state has received the offer.

"We are currently preparing a response," he wrote in an email.

Bill Peaslee, a lawyer for the state Department of Administration involved in negotiating the deal, said the city's offer is being given "thought deliberation," but no decision on how to respond has been made.

In prior conversations, Peaslee and other state leaders said they were interested in keeping a part of the Dix campus permanently in order to build a new home for DHHS. The city's deal envisions the state moving off the campus. It's unclear whether that difference would be a roadblock to an eventual deal.

"It's one of the things that's being contemplated," Peaslee said. "I don't know that there's an answer to that yet."

The fate of the campus, which once housed the state's main mental hospital, has been a flashpoint of controversy for years. Most recently, former Gov. Bev Perdue signed a long-term lease for the grounds as she neared the end of her term in late 2012. Republican lawmakers objected to that deal and threatened to negate it through legislation.

Instead, McCrory and city leaders agreed to put the Perdue lease on hold while they negotiated a new deal. 

Negotiations began in earnest last month after a pair of new appraisals set the value of the property between $38 million and $66 million.


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  • Grand Union Apr 4, 2014

    "That property is worth a minimum of $250 million. I hope the state doesn't allow the city to get some political sweetheart deal just so we can waste that prime land on a park."

    Some people know the price of everything but the value of nothing.

  • Grand Union Apr 4, 2014

    "If a PARK for the citizens of North Carolina to come to is so great, why not have the State create the park?"

    Because the Current State Gov. doesn't care less about its citizens, even less for those citizens in areas that will not have a majority for their party. They want to sell this off cheap to some developers in return for a major under the counter "contribution". The City will never again get a chance to retain this l
    jewel as a park and iall we'll have is another ugly sub-division of whaever houses the developers think will make the highest profit and a much smaller chunk of green left so that they can still pretend we got a park.

  • vanthomas321 Apr 3, 2014

    So many uninformed posters here.
    1. The land(s) was not "given" to the State. The State bought multiple tracts and there are no restrictions on the multiple deeds.
    2. Renovation/remediation costs for property being sold are always on the seller or the buyer gets a huge discount.
    3. The city's offer says it is contingent on bond approval for financing - that has to be a public vote and the offer says the funds will go to mental health needs. Remember offers are expected to be countered.
    4. There are already two plans for future use of the property - one by ULI that splits it to development and park and one by DixVisionaires that wants it all park. The latter is by a lot of moneyed RTP area people.
    5. Dorothea Dix's name was not attached to the property until 100 years after the purchase, originally it was named after her grandfather.

  • John Paul Bertke Apr 3, 2014
    user avatar

    So you folks in the suburbs and the exurbs think that Dix Park is a bad location for a destination park, even though it's within 25 miles of 2 million people, fully a fifth of the population of North Carolina. And you think that $38 million is too much money.

    Would you prefer another $500 million-dollar highway to the beach, in case you feel like getting wet? And throw in another $500 million for 50 years of maintenance on that highway. How about another $500 million highway to the mountains, in case you feel like seeing fall colors. Throw in another $500 million more for 50 years of maintenance.

    Is there anything else we can get for you out there? Maybe another remote library or shopping mall? We don't want you to get lonely out there.

    What's that? You want a PARK way out there? With a road to it? Water? Power? You DO understand that would be more money for fewer people, right?

  • ps8611 Apr 3, 2014

    Personally, I don't care if Raleigh gets a park or not. For the record, there are already multiple parks available to residents there, and I doubt that park overcrowding is an issue. I hope our state leaders fulfill their fiduciary responsibility and counter for something more reflective of the state's appraisal. Raleigh is simply trying to anchor the negotiation. If they can't reach consensus on terms, then let Raleigh compete in a sealed bid process to gauge their true interest in the property. Frankly, that probably should have been done at the outset.

  • cuffusion Apr 3, 2014

    I don't know the conditions under which the land was donated to the state.. it may well be that it was targeted for a specific purpose and the State would have not authority to sell or convert the property for any other use..

  • whatelseisnew Apr 3, 2014

    "Was the City of Raleigh wearing a ski mask when they tried to rob the state with this offer?"

    Probably not, but they are not trying to rob the State, they are trying to rob the taxpayers. Hopefully the legislature will not sell us out on this. Bev had no business cutting a deal with the city. She was on her way out and this was not a minor decision, but as usual she did as much damage as she could do on her way out the door. I guess she wanted to destroy as much as she could given she was cut off at four years.

  • skeeter II Apr 3, 2014

    I forgot to mention in earlier comments -- a group is raising four million dollars to PLAN the DESTINATION PARK!!!! If it costs that much to PLAN then Dix should be worth much more than 38 million!! They must be planning a GIANT of a park!!!

    I think I remember that a leader of that group stated that they had worked for years to have the Dix Hospital moved from the land so a park could be there!!!!!!!! They were the ones to push for the purchase, not leaders of Raleigh!!!!

    If a PARK for the citizens of North Carolina to come to is so great, why not have the State create the park?

    Is this another idea like the LIGHT TOWER on Capital Bvd to have Raleigh be thought of as one of the leading cities of America. We do not need a CENTRAL PARK like New York City has!!!!!!!!

    Maybe the idea needs to be ALL North Carolina ballot this fall -- SHOULD THE DOROTHY DIX HOSPITAL PROPERTY BE SOLD TO THE CITY OF RALEIGH. Because all the citizens of North Carolina own a piece of that property!!!

  • Mods Hate Me Apr 3, 2014

    Was the City of Raleigh wearing a ski mask when they tried to rob the state with this offer?

  • earnyourownway Apr 3, 2014

    funny how they can come up with money on the things they want. but other things no money.