Raleigh, state exchanged Dix sale offers after August council meeting

Posted October 2, 2014

Dorothea Dix property in fall

— The city of Raleigh offered terms for the purchase of the Dorothea Dix property on Aug. 29, and the state responded to that offer on Sept. 12 by saying that it needed to keep at least 27.5 acres for its Department of Health and Human Services campus, according to documents released Thursday by the state. 

That exchange outlines many of the same positions that city and state leaders have taken over the months-long negotiations, but it also fleshes out what officials on both sides mean when they say that talks are ongoing. 

Dorothea Dix property Dorothea Dix documents In particular, the Sept. 12 letter from Robert Stephens, Gov. Pat McCrory's general counsel, emphasizes that the state is unwilling to part with the entire campus, which now houses much of DHHS. Earlier offers had reflected a desire to keep at least 60 acres, but the latest offer specifies less than half that acreage.

"As we have stated from the beginning, the Dix campus is not surplus property, and it is imperative that the State have use of at least the 27.5 acres for a consolidated DHHS campus," Stephens wrote. 

The Raleigh City Council met on Aug. 28 behind closed doors to give their staff instructions on how to proceed with the negotiations. Following that meeting, Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane said the two sides were "close" and that the city expected to make a counter-offer to a proposal by the state on July 18. 

Dorothea Dix sign Negotiations, sometimes contentious, continue over potential Dix sale Despite repeated requests to both the city and the state for any offer the city would have made following that meeting, neither the Aug. 29 document nor the reply from Sept. 12 were disclosed until Thursday. McCrory's office made them available in response to questions regarding the lack of action in the Dix negotiations. It's unclear why the Aug. 29 offer was not disclosed, although it is not as tightly formatted as other communications between the two parties and may not have technically have been considered a formal offer.  

The city's offer sheet makes any deal contingent on being able to arrange for bond financing by Dec. 31, 2015. It also offers to lease back to the state the 26 acres "West of the Railroad," which is home to much of the current DHHS campus, for $1 per year for 15 years and another 1.5 acres that is home to the DHHS' Williams Building for $1 per year for 10 years. 

In Stephens' Sept. 12 letter, he asks that the city lease back those 27.5 acres "until the State no longer has a use for the Retained Property as the State may determine in its sole discretion." The letter also asks for an additional 90 acres of the 306-acre property to be leased back to the state for at least 10 years. 

The Stephens letter says that the state would sell the property under those and other terms for $52 million, which is less than the $66 million the state had originally asked for but more than the $33 million the city has proposed.


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  • B.c. Jimmy Oct 6, 2014
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    the city council suggested raising taxes to repair potholes, and wants to drop tens of millions on a park? you people ever hear of umstead? enough with the parks and convention centers.

  • Sensible Oct 4, 2014

    This is about a park. This is not a liberal vs. conservative issue, nor does it involve care for the mentally ill, nor does it involve condos, townhomes, section 8 housing, or anything else.

    This is about a park in the state capitol. This is about encouraging further economic growth by providing amenities similar to great cities around the world. Look at Balboa Park in San Diego, Golden Gate Park in San Fran, Central Park in NYC. Each of those provides a great benefit to locals (and to their respective states as a whole).

  • skeeter II Oct 3, 2014

    As a citizen of Raleigh since 1974 and a retired state employee, I see no reason for the City of Raleigh to try to acquire this property. I would rather it be developed by the State by building additional office space and parking for State employees. Then the State could drastically reduce the dollar total paid each year for office space in Raleigh and Wake County. This would also free-up office space that could be rented and not have to build additional commercial office buildings by the realtors.

    A group has pledged to raise 4 million dollars to PLAN the destination park! If it cost that much to plan, think of the potential large cost to build it! ARE WE THINKING OF BUILDING A "CAROWINDS" type park -- sounds like it.

    Raleigh does not now have the funds to purchase Dix, and I am not sure a bond issue to fund it would be approved by the Raleigh voters. Wonder where to funds to BUILD the park will come from??????????

  • disgusted2010 Oct 3, 2014

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    No this WAS a once in a lifetime opportunity to care for the mentally ill and protect the citizens of NC, BUT the liberals closed it, destroyed the mental health system, put mentally ill people on the street causing them to be homeless or leaving them to be dealt with by law enforcement and eventually the prison system.

    BUT that said, the "conservative" legislators cannot wait to sell the property and throw the pittance they get for it away. People, wake up, once the city gets their mitts on it, it is only a matter of time before the rich elites find a way to develop it. Cheap condos and section eight housing here we come.

  • cjw6105 Oct 3, 2014

    The state should do everything it can to make sure Raleigh does NOT get its hands on this property.

  • Sensible Oct 3, 2014

    You do realize Raleigh is part of the State of North Carolina...which means putting a major park is a benefit for...residents of North Carolina. So why should Raleigh pay anything at all?

    And why on earth does DHHS need 27.5 acres on a site away from all the other governmental buildings? And are there no suitable alternate sites (already state-owned or low-priced land in reasonable proximity to Raleigh) which would allow the park to be maximized?

    This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Raleigh. Imagine NYC without Central Park. Now imagine Raleigh with its own Central Park....

  • redfish Oct 2, 2014

    The city of Raleigh is very wealthy and should pay what they are capable of paying. The original price of 66 million seems a bit of a deal rather than a fair share.