Local News

Planning process for Raleigh's version of 'Central Park' in full effect

Posted October 8, 2020 4:00 a.m. EDT
Updated October 8, 2020 4:20 a.m. EDT

— Efforts to create Raleigh’s version of "Central Park" are one step closer to becoming real. The planning process is underway for the Dorothea Dix Master Plan.

Wednesday night, architects discussed the first part of the overall plan: transforming where a dog park sits into 12 acres of public spaces filled with fountains, gardens and a place to relax. From outdoor yoga to letting dogs play, Dix Park offers more than 300 acres of open space overall.

"Because of COVID, if I want to eat outside, without takeout, this is where I'll come," said Claire White.

Parks are becoming a popular resource during the coronavirus pandemic. Members with the Dix Park Conservancy said they are doing what they can to create the country’s next great urban park.

The first project is creating a "Plaza & Play" on the southern edge of the park.

"This truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Fletcher Phillips, landscape architect with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. "Many of you know it today as the dog run, beautiful existing trees ... it's right along Lake Wheeler Road. It's one of the only places of Dix Park you can see into."

An ad for the plan features innovative play spaces next to green spaces. Designers said it will become the main entrance to the park.

"The second principle of our master plan is to open up and connect the park to Raleigh but also beyond," said Hillary Archer, Plaza & Play design team manager.

The master plan sections the park off in six landscapes.

"I would absolutely love it if it's something like Central Park," White said. "I would just like to keep it a park."

Dix Park Conservancy pledged about $10 million to make the change. Officials said the first phase will take about four years to complete.

The next public meeting is in January. Developers want to continue gathering feedback from the public before moving forward.

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