Local News

What Will Become of the Dorothea Dix Property?

Posted January 16, 2008
Updated January 17, 2008

— Dorothea Dix Hospital could close on May 1 and its patients be moved to a new mental-health facility in Butner. If that happens, hundreds of acres of rolling hills near downtown Raleigh will need a new purpose.

A legislative committee heard four recommendations Wednesday.

“We thoughtfully considered all the plans that come before, out of Dorothea Dix, and we examined them in very close detail,” consultant Jay Smith said.

Consultants hired by the state went over the four options. The first two keep the Department of Health and Human Services on the campus. The agency would take up 40 acres because other DHHS offices scattered throughout Wake County would move to the Dix property. There would also be green space and areas left for development.

Two other possibilities are moving the DHHS off the Dix campus, relocating it to either Blue Ridge Road or Garner Road. That would leave more room for a park, something Raleigh city leaders are pitching. The city has even offered to buy the land from the state.

“The only thing we do feel very strongly about is the state will maintain ownership of Dix property,” said Britt Cobb, secretary of the state Department of Administration.

Lawmakers said it is too soon to say which option is best for Raleigh.

“Those of us in the Wake County delegation are interested in long-term status of that property," Sen. Richard Stevens, R-Wake, said.

“No one's probably going to get everything they want,” Cobb said.

The latest plans try to offer a little something for everyone.

The Dix recommendations are part of a master plan for state facilities. It is intended as a guide for the governor, council of state, and lawmakers, but it can change.

Dix and John Umstead Hospital in Butner were expected to close in February and merge into the $120 million Central Regional Hospital, but there were construction and patient concerns that the plan was moving too fast.

A recent internal review found 30 types of hazards in the new facility, some of which could allow patients to hang themselves. Extending the transfer completion date until May 1 gives state officials more time to ensure the hospital is safe for patients, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dempsey Benton said.


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  • Iron Man Jan 17, 2008

    The Dix Campus could be turned into the most modern mental health facility in the US, maybe the world. With the all the major pharmacuticle companies, Medical Colleges and a great place to live why in the world can't that happen. Persons with a mental illness have a very low self esteem which is further lowered when people show no acceptance or very limited treatment options, espescially for the poorer patients.

    In our society today, people take better care of their dogs than we take care of those who suffer from mental illness. Not only in hospitals, but at home and in the community. And we think we are a loving and compassionate people. As George Sr. put it, "a gentler nation. Thanks for state, county and city leaders for your kind consideration.

  • circlecity Jan 17, 2008

    It would be nice to fix up the building as apartment for the elerly, single people living in Raleigh and small familys.

  • bahville Jan 17, 2008

    "Make it a park I guess...and that way about 250 a year can use it regularly."

    Overcrowded Lake Johnson begs to differ...

  • Weetie Jan 17, 2008

    Dorothea Dix has been closing since the mid 80's...it's not closed yet. Truly, I don't think it will and I pray that it doesn't. They should do some remodeling and updating to this property but PLEASE stop talking about closing this much needed facility!

  • moonpie Jan 17, 2008

    ez, most of the site is already "un-developed". the oak lined streets needed for vehicular access to the area could be left "as-developed", and other oak lined streets not needed for cars could be "re-developed" to leave the trees and replace that pavement with walking and biking friendly materials.

  • Central_Law Jan 17, 2008

    Despite the overly sarcastic tones in almost every post so far, I am going to walk out onto the thin ice that has developed around this issue.

    My dream scenario is that we could have a professional sports complex in Raleigh. Preferably an MLB club with a smaller stadium similar to Wrigley Field and allow closely monitored development surrounding the stadium to include other entertainment functions, housing, restaurants, bars, etc.

    But that will never happen. :(

    Make it a park I guess...and that way about 250 a year can use it regularly.

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy Jan 17, 2008

    I hope they sell the entire site, and developers make good use out of it, with some high end condo's, townhouses, and strip malls...!

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Jan 17, 2008

    I like the creativity, but not really the idea. If we're going to develop something creative, let the developers bid. Include price and idea in the bids. I don't trust government to do that kind of development.

    If it will be mixed use, leave DHHS there, people are needed to make mixed use viable.

    BTW, to be a park, it would already have to be "un-developed". Besides the view of downtown and rolling hills, the best part of Dix is the oak trees lining the streets. Would a park tear up those streets?

  • Sunne Jan 17, 2008

    Iamforjustice, yours is the best suggestion I have heard to date. Great thinking out of the box!

  • iamforjustice Jan 17, 2008

    Make it into a culture center...from all cultures including clothes, cuisine, music, we could have Africa for one acre, Asia for another acre and so on. It would be the first of its kind and bring people together. We could have live entertainment and story telling. It would be great and make people from other countries feel less homesick. Also have bars with their countries drinks.