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Demolition Of Former Raleigh Youth Detention Center Set To Begin

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The first of 22 buildings at the former Polk Youth Correctional Center on Blue Ridge Road will come down Wednesday to make way for a park and greenway trail.

The correctional center has sat empty and neglected since closing several years ago. The graffiti-covered buildings have been considered an eyesore.


North Carolina Museum of Art

is tearing down the buildings to create a museum art park.

"It's a dream come true because all of our big plans for this park depend on the removal of this urban blight," said Lawrence Wheeler, museum director.

The museum, located next door, received a gift earlier this year to fund the demolition and the restoration of the 9-acre property.

"All of the art is made from the land itself. There will be recreation trails, and when the big bridge is built across the beltline, it will connect our trail system of 3 miles of paved trail to the greenway system of Raleigh," Wheeler said.

The museum will preserve parts of the old prison, including a smokestack.

"We are talking to artists in New York and we'll talk to artists elsewhere about turning that into a major light sculpture as a beacon for this gateway to the city. Some of the metal work we hope to turn into benches that will be placed in the park. We want to preserve a sense of the memory of the history of this place -- not all of it pleasant, to be sure," Wheeler said.

The demolition should be complete in 120 days. November is the target date to finish the work.