Local News

City hopes to take over Dix plot after patients move

Posted November 27, 2008 5:43 p.m. EST
Updated November 27, 2008 7:01 p.m. EST

— The arrival of Bev Perdue in the governor's mansion could signal a new direction for a prime piece of Raleigh real estate.

As the state Department of Health and Human Services plans to move patients from the outdated Dorothea Dix Hospital to a new facility in Butner, the city is looking for future uses for 300 acres of rolling hills the hospital now occupies.

"We would hope Governor-elect Perdue's administration will take a second look at this property and see about establishing a destination park for the whole state," Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said Wednesday.

"That is something Gov. Perdue has written about before and talked about publicly and hopefully her administration will get fully behind this."

Meeker said he'd start to lobby Perdue's team about the issue in January.

"We expect one of two things: Either state would retain ownership and designate the property as a park site and lease it to a developer who would develop it," Meeker said, "Or, if the property were to be transferred, that it be transferred at fair market value to the city."

In a statement released to WRAL, Perdue said she's "committed to preserving open space and parkland ... of the Dix property," though she didn't get specific about timing or a possible sale to the city. She added, "Maintaining a majority of the land as green space for the enjoyment of future generations is a fitting use of this valuable property."

The governor-elect appears to be positioning herself for a compromise. In the past, many state leaders have called for a portion of the property to continue to be used for government office space. That would leave the rest of the parcel for the park Meeker is hoping for.

Of course, nothing can be done before the move of patients is complete.

That plan is on hold because of concerns raised by a patient advocacy group that the new Central Regional Hospital in Butner is not safe for employees or patients.

Eventually, Central Regional will replace both Dix and John Umstead Hospital, which is also in Butner. Umstead patients moved to that facility in July.