Dix boosters to announce fundraising plan

Posted December 3, 2012

— Boosters of turning the Dorothea Dix campus in downtown Raleigh into a park say they'll outline plans to raise private funds for the project less than 20 hours before to state leaders are scheduled to vote on the plan.

The Dix Visionaries, a group of North Carolina business and community leaders which includes Jim Goodmon, the CEO of WRAL News parent Capitol Broadcasting, are scheduled to hold a news conference at 2 p.m. on Monday, along with fellow park boosters Friends of Dorothea Dix Park and Dix 306.

The Council of State, which is made of the 10 North Carolina officials elected statewide, is set to meet 9 a.m. on Tuesday to vote on the Dix deal. In addition to the governor and lieutenant governor, members of the Council of State include the state's Secretary of Labor and Attorney General. The group has the power to approve and reject deals involving state property. 

Gregory Poole, Jr., a retired developer who has led the visionaries group, has said in prior interviews that he would like to see Dix become a "destination park" that would draw visitors from beyond the capital city.

In a news release Sunday night, the visionaries group said, "Destination parks are the center of many of the nation’s great cities, widely acclaimed for providing economic stability, attracting relocating industries and improving overall quality of life. Examples of Destination Parks include St. Louis’s Forest Park, Chicago’s Millennium Park, New York’s Central Park and Atlanta’s Piedmont Park." 

Property's future in dispute

Currently, the Dix campus is owned by the state of North Carolina. It was once home to a mental hospital, but the campus is now mainly occupied by Department of Health and Human Resources offices. 

Gov. Bev Perdue plans to move those offices away from Dix and consolidate them with other DHHS offices throughout Wake County. That plan would have taken state workers in 60 different buildings and placed them in a total of five or six. However, it doesn't appear that the consolidation plan will be ready for the Council of State meeting on Tuesday.

The council is scheduled to review a plan that would lease the Dix campus to the City of Raleigh for up to 99 years. As a condition of the lease, the city will lease back to the state the office space it currently occupies until a consolidation plan can be worked out and executed.

Details of the lease revealed in the Council of State's agenda show that the city would pay $500,000 per year to the state. The price for the lease would rise by 1.5 percent every year, but the city would get a discount for any property that the state is still using.

The plan is not uncontroversial. Republican leaders at the General Assembly have called on Perdue to delay action on the plan until Pat McCrory, who will take over as governor Jan. 5, has a chance to review the deal.

McCrory has said that he would like time to review the deal. But the visionaries group have listed him as a member of their "advisory council." A spokesman for the governor-elect called that statement "inaccurate," saying that McCrory never formally committed support to the group. 

Poole said that he spoke to McCrory just as he was leaving office as mayor of Charlotte in 2008. 

"He said to me, 'I wish that I had the same opportunity here in Charlotte,'" Poole recalled. Pooled later followed up with a phone call.

Poole said that McCrory was very supportive on both occasions but could not recall or document whether McCrory had agreed to have his name listed as an advisory to the group.  


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  • TVs_Deceit Dec 3, 2012

    dwntwnboy: ""Who in Raleigh or the State is going to travel to that part of Raleigh to sit on the ground under a tree?" - who is going to go to the other parks around the state?"

    You know who. The people who live in the neighborhood unless it's a State park with camping and/or fishing facilities.

    Do you drive across the city to walk around Shelly Lake? No. You walk to the Dix property because it's in YOUR neighborhood.

    Nobody from Wilmington is going to drive 3 hours to sit in a park. Nobody from North Raleigh's going to drive across town to sit in a park.

    The people in THAT neighborhood are - by far - the only ones that would ever set foot in that park.

    And you expected the Dems to keep control of Government and slide you a taxpayer-funded neighborhood park for years.

    And now 10 years later you're panicking and starting a "fund" after the people of the State of NC voted out your cronies in Government.

    Shame on you for stealing a needed special space for healing the mentally-ill

  • TVs_Deceit Dec 3, 2012

    dwntwnboy - "It will revitalize that corner of downtown and make the homes and businesses around there even more valuable in the tax base."

    No it won't. Not until you run the poor people out too like you did the mentally-ill.

    It's been basically an open park for years already and it hasn't revitalized anything except Boylan Heights where people have been buying up old houses because they expected the Democrats to give them a huge private park at taxpayer expense.

    A income-generating green-focused development with homes and businesses is what's needed to revitalize that area.

    After you finish kicking out the rest of the people you don't want sullying your new liberal enclave.

  • dwntwnboy Dec 3, 2012

    " the main reason we have parks in the mountains and at the coast is because it is IN THE MOUNTAIN AND AT THE COAST"- by some of the comments posted, then the people of the MOUNTAINS and the COAST should pay for those parks then- everyone wants Raleigh citizens to pay. IF Raleigh citizens can't have a park, why should any other part of the state? And yes, a "bunch of oak trees"- we ARE the City of Oaks and the grand old trees at Dix are some of the few left in this city. You can't just go out to Lowes and buy some new 100+yr old trees.

  • gkgreene Dec 3, 2012

    Let me add to comment below about appropriate rental rate. I understand that the State is now seeking proposals from private developors to lease office space to house the staff of this agency. So now the State of NC is not only going to subsidize a city park, the citizens of the state will also have to pay a developer for office space to house the staff (which I imagine will be greater than $500k per year

  • dwntwnboy Dec 3, 2012

    "Who in Raleigh or the State is going to travel to that part of Raleigh to sit on the ground under a tree?"- who is going to go to the other parks around the state? Let's not forget that this property is also a historical site relevant to the Civil War, it is where the Union troops camped when they took the city. Not to mention the fact that a good deal of space can't be built on because it was a dump and the ground isn't stable. Park seems the ideal fit for this particular parcel of land. It will revitalize that corner of downtown and make the homes and businesses around there even more valuable in the tax base.

  • JustAName Dec 3, 2012

    "Why? Why must we sell EVERYTHING? Do you want to sell ALL the parks in the state or just the one in Raleigh? Why can we have big parks in the mountains and at the coast but not in the middle of the state?" - dwntwnboy

    Yes. The government should NOT be landowners. But, the main reason we have parks in the mountains and at the coast is because it is IN THE MOUNTAIN AND AT THE COAST. A bunch of oak trees and a field in the middle of the city is not needed when you already have 200+ parks in that city.

  • dwntwnboy Dec 3, 2012

    "Someone has to reign in this spiteful insane clown lady. She's mad at US because SHE'S incompetent"- this is a deal that was LONG in the works before Bev came into office. To try and blame HER for this is just a sign that people are scared of a woman in power. She didn't start this process but she happens to be the one in the position to get it done. The people of NC subsidize parks all over the state. Why is Raleigh any different? With THAT thinking, we should just sell off all the parks all over the state. Why should residents of the beach or mountains get parks paid for by people in Raleigh? See how silly that whole thought process sounds? It's like being agains a national park at the Grand Canyon because you live in Vermont. It's just an excuse to be "against" something rather than FOR something that is for the good of us all.

  • TVs_Deceit Dec 3, 2012

    NOW they start to come up with a "plan" for "private" funds?

    After nearly 10 years of work to kick the mentally-ill out of their hospital - so that they could have essentially a massive private park for themselves - that the taxpayers all over the State would pay for?

    Apparently the Democrat political elite never expected the citizens of N.C. to vote for fiscal responsibility.

    Who in Raleigh or the State is going to travel to that part of Raleigh to sit on the ground under a tree? Raleigh and North Carolina isn't like New York where no one has a yard.

    You can see now that they've planned all along to have all of North Carolina subsidize their private playground.

    And you can see that they worked to get the State to get rid of the mentally-ill "undesirables" in order to have their private park.

  • gkgreene Dec 3, 2012

    I have no problem with the State renting the property to the City but it should be at an appropriate value so the rest of the citizens of the State are not subsidizing the rent.

    But apparently that is not the case.

    Understand that the appraised value of the property is between $60 million and $85 million.

    Typical rental rates are 10% of the property value; therefore, the rental rate should be more in the neighborhood of at least $6 million per year in lieu of $500k per year.

    So it appears that Perdue is caving to her political buddies in Raleigh and screwing the rest of the state population.

    As a Raleigh resident, this seems to be another case of focusing on downtown and make others in the City pay for it.

  • tgentry1005 Dec 3, 2012

    With the State of North Carolina needing money, why should citizens from the whole State of North Carolina be forced to chip in so the City of Raleigh can have another park? The State should sell the property to the highest bidder and let private industary do whatever they want to with the land and the State smile all the way to the bank and use the money to benefit all citizens of the State.