State, Raleigh sign lease for Dix campus

Posted December 28, 2012

— In one of her final acts in office, outgoing Gov. Beverly Perdue formally signed an agreement Friday to lease the Dorothea Dix Hospital campus to the City of Raleigh, which plans to turn it into a "destination park."

The Raleigh City Council and the Council of State, a panel of 10 statewide elected officials, approved the agreement earlier this month, and Friday afternoon’s signing finalized the deal on the 325-acre site that is just south of downtown.

"Discussion and deliberation about the Dix property has taken place for years," Perdue said in a statement. "The plan is the most appropriate way of preserving this open space as a park, while at the same time providing revenue to the state."

The Dix campus has been owned by the state for more than 150 years. It was once home to a mental hospital, but the campus is now mainly occupied by Department of Health and Human Services offices.

Raleigh will pay the state $500,000 a year 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 plan to move those offices elsewhere can be worked out.

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.

"I am very happy the City of Raleigh and the state can partner in this way to provide such a great opportunity for our citizens," Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane said. "The Dix property is a wonderful addition to our city and state's quality of life amenities."

Perdue, McFarlane sign Dix park lease deal Perdue, McFarlane sign Dix park lease deal

Proponents have said the property will become Raleigh's version of Central Park and increase tourism and economic development. But opponents think Raleigh is getting a sweetheart deal well below market value.

"There's always going to criticism and people will always wonder if you've done the best," McFarlane said. "We've worked hard on this for a very long time. I think for the city and state, that this is the best deal for both of us."

The mayor said residents will be invited to give their input in the planning process, which she promised would be transparent to "make sure taxpayers get the best value for their dollar."

McFarlane also said she's discussed the project with Gov.-elect Pat McCrory, who wants to offer his ideas.

"When you look at great parks in other cities – whether it's St. Louis or New York – those are assets for the whole state," McFarlane said.

Gregory Poole Jr., chairman of Dix Visionaries, said his group has already raised for than $1 million to help transform the park and plans to collect more.

He said he envisions a park that will be on par with other great parks and natural attractions in the state and across the country.

"We'll measure up now," Poole said. "We've got the opportunity."


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  • dwntwnboy2 Dec 31, 2012

    "Well you can't fault liberals about one thing. They're always great about spending other peoples money"- for the record, it's OUR money as well. I don't remember getting a say in the Republicans spending all that tax money on the wars for profit they had in Iraq and Afghanistan. Parks are a much better use of the money - and cost a LOT less. For what we spent in ONE week in Iraq, we could have a dozen of these parks.

  • Karmageddon Dec 31, 2012

    I can't wait to see how much this will add to the property taxes that I already pay to Wake County and the city of Raleigh.....and before it's over there will probably be an additional state tax as well.

  • SaveEnergyMan Dec 28, 2012

    I for one think it is a wonderful use of land. Parks serve the "mental health" of all. Pullen Park is packed most days and this land could be put to good use.

    Too many people can't put politics aside (just like our wonderful Congress) and see that this deal serves the people of the local area. I'm not fond of our current governor, but this was a good decision - a decision that was, of course, motivated in part by building a "legacy".

    The mentally ill were moved out some time ago and so the state was already in violation of the original bequest. We can let the land sit idle, sell it to developers, or use it as a park. Having Raleigh do it means that they will finance the building of facilities and not the state. Parks are a service to the citizens and not a revenue generator, just like most city services. The city is NOT a business and can't be run as such.

  • bphelps3 Dec 28, 2012

    I have read posts here for ages and decided to register today because of this article and the comments about it.

    Many of you obviously have not been to the campus. It is already a park for the most part. I have spent countless weekend there flying RC planes as many other do. I would love to see details for the plans of Destination Park, but the facility is already a wonderful place to jog, picnic, fly RC planes, drive RC cars..... or anything you would typically do at a park, because it's basically a park already.

    As for crime in the area, I have not once felt threatened or concerned. The local police have stopped and watched us fly our planes at times and they make very regular passes through the campus.

    Not going to debate the political portion of this, but am very happy it is going to remain a park, I just hope it doesn't change much. It's a great place right behind the farmers market. Everyone should go check it out and enjoy it.

  • meeper Dec 28, 2012

    Well you can't fault liberals about one thing. They're always great about spending other peoples money. Let's see how many tax dollars will be blown on this wasteful project. It's always about the children and their future.

  • abaugh Dec 28, 2012


  • lewiskr45 Dec 28, 2012

    The State did not decide to make this a park by way of kicking out the patients in the hospital. The State did, unfortunately, close down the hospital, and THEN decided on the future of the site. There were 2 options it seemed, a park or development of the site. The last thing this area needed was more parking lots, more poorly designed shopping centers, more cars, etc. Right decision was made.

  • dwntwnboy2 Dec 28, 2012

    "In other words, yet another thing people's tax dollars will be paying for"- it beats the war-for-profits that we "fought" in Iraq doesn't it? For what we paid for one week of Bush's folly in Iraq, we could have paid for this park over and over again. Make parks, not war. :-)

  • Hans Dec 28, 2012

    "It is STILL owned by the state, will bring in money year after year and at the end, is STILL owned by the State." - dwntwnboy2

    L to the LOL. In other words, yet another thing people's tax dollars will be paying for.

  • affirmativediversity Dec 28, 2012

    Let them eat cake...oh wait cake has sugar and next to no nutritional value so should therefore not be encouraged...let them eat the park's plants instead... because

    Who needs in-hospital mental health services anyway? The Democrats did away with mental health patients.