McFarlane: Dix deal close

Posted August 28, 2014 11:24 a.m. EDT
Updated August 28, 2014 6:43 p.m. EDT

— Mayor Nancy McFarlane said Thursday that she is hopeful Raleigh could soon have a new deal to acquire the Dorothea Dix property from the state.

Raleigh officials have for years been working to obtain the 307-acre campus south of downtown for a "destination park." An agreement signed in December 2012 by then-Gov. Beverly Perdue was set aside last year when lawmakers threatened to void it, saying that the state got the short end of the deal.

Rather than go to court, Gov. Pat McCrory's administration and city officials agreed to renegotiate the deal. But those talks have often been contentious, with the state demanding to keep a portion of the property for Department of Health and Human Services offices and the city offering far less than what state officials asked and seeking to have the state pay for any environmental cleanup costs.

"It’s always been our preference to purchase all the property," McFarlane said. "I think, when you look at it and talk about starting to break it up, no matter what part you take out, you lose part of the value. Our goal is to still try and purchase all of it."

A new deal had been scheduled to be finished by June 1, but the city and state twice extended their negotiations, with the last deadline passing July 31.

The Raleigh City Council met behind closed doors for an hour Thursday morning to "discuss negotiations for acquiring property between Western Blvd and Lake Wheeler Road." No public action was taken, but McFarlane said later that a new offer for the land could possibly happen this week.

"We’re very close," she said. "I think we’ll reach an agreement very soon."

McCrory spokesman Josh Ellis said the Governor's Office hadn't received a new offer as of late Thursday afternoon.

"However, we are still hopeful that a deal will be reached," Ellis said in an email.