Raleigh, N.C. — Members of the Council of State will decide next week whether to lease the Dorothea Dix campus to the City of Raleigh for 75 years during a meeting scheduled for Tuesday.
An agenda for the group of statewide leaders defines the lease term as 75 years and pegs the annual cost at $500,000, with a 1.5 percent increase per year. There is a 24-year lease renewal option.
Raleigh will get a discount on the lease amount based on how much of the 325 acre property the state hangs on to in order to house portions of the Department of Health and Human Services.
While staffers with Gov. Bev Perdue discussed the parameters of a deal earlier this week, it was unclear whether she would seek approval. Fellow members of the council, which is made of state leaders elected statewide such as the attorney general, have been noncommittal on the plan. Lawmakers have been outright hostile, saying Perdue should leave Dix's disposition to the next governor, who will take office on Jan. 5.
"At this point in time I can't absolutely say it will go of that I'll have the votes. I probably will take it even if I'm defeated," Perdue said late Thursday.
Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group that opposes tax increases and increases government spending, has criticized the deal and is fielding robo-calls to stir opposition.
"If those numbers are true, it's atrocious," said AFP state director Dallas Woodhouse. "It's giving away the property."
At one point, the Dix campus appraised for as much as $80 million if it were to be sold. Later appraisals put the price closer to $34 million. Disputes over price scuttled an earlier deal to sell the property to the city.
Perdue had hoped to offer a plan to consolidate the Department of Health and Human resources from 60 buildings on the Dix campus and elsewhere in Wake County to five or six buildings. However, that plan doesn't appear on the agenda.
“After years of discussions, Gov. Perdue believes it is time to move forward on transferring the Dix property to the City of Raleigh," Perdue spokeswoman Chris Mackey said in an e-mail. "The lease proposal is the best way to preserve the land as a park for our citizens, while at the same time providing a revenue stream for the state. While Gov. Perdue would have preferred to include a consolidation proposal to accompany the lease, these plans will require additional review. In the meantime should the proposal be approved, plans may begin on a master plan for a 325-acre park in central Raleigh as soon as the city is ready.”