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Dorothea Dix Property

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... The comparison to Central Park is absurd. Raleigh will probably never have as many people living in the entire city as there are living in walking distance from Central Park. Central Park should not even be used in the same sentence with Dorthea Dix campus because no matter how much preservation and park like ammenities are put there it will never be comparable to Central park. ...

The ULI plan looks like a happy medium. ...

Yes, let's do get real. When central park was proposed the population of NYC was about the same as Raleigh is now, and Raleigh, being in the sun belt is the destination of continuing population shift in the United States. We are currently growing at a rate of about 5,000 people every six months Central park is twice the size of Dix Campus, so with that model in mind we need more land not less, and that additional land is represented by the connections with Centennial Campus, Walnut Creek Wetlands and Pullen Park.

When Central Park was conceived the land was surrounded by little villages of immigrants, and almost all the population of NYC was below 37th street. I can guess that those without vision thought it was a waste of effort and would never succeed. There were periods where it appeared those naysayers were correct, but the visionaries finally won out, and Central Park is one of the foremost parks in the world.

It is entirely reasonable to expect multi story housing to surround Dix Park in less than 50 years, and certainly within a 150 years the density will be determined by the popularity of the downtown urban core. A density similar to the current NYC housing surrounding Central Park is not unreasonable if we create open space and urban parks to keep pace with our growth.

The ULI plan is not a happy medium at all. It is a massive development plan. There are currently 2826 multifamily units either existing or proposed in downtown Raleigh. This ULI Development plan calls for an additional 1650 multi family units as well as another 1000 single family homes to be built on State owned land, land we already own.

Central Park Data

Units proposed by ULI Development plan p.41-42

Current projects in Raleigh

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Yes, let's do get real. When central park was proposed the population of NYC was about the same as Raleigh is now, and Raleigh, being in the sun belt is the destination of continuing population shift in the United States. We are currently growing at a rate of about 5,000 people every six months Central park is twice the size of Dix Campus, so with that model in mind we need more land not less, and that additional land is represented by the connections with Centennial Campus, Walnut Creek Wetlands and Pullen Park.

When Central Park was conceived the land was surrounded by little villages of immigrants, and almost all the population of NYC was below 37th street. I can guess that those without vision thought it was a waste of effort and would never succeed. There were periods where it appeared those naysayers were correct, but the visionaries finally won out, and Central Park is one of the foremost parks in the world.

It is entirely reasonable to expect multi story housing to surround Dix Park in less than 50 years, and certainly within a 150 years the density will be determined by the popularity of the downtown urban core. A density similar to the current NYC housing surrounding Central Park is not unreasonable if we create open space and urban parks to keep pace with our growth.

The ULI plan is not a happy medium at all. It is a massive development plan. There are currently 2826 multifamily units either existing or proposed in downtown Raleigh. This ULI Development plan calls for an additional 1650 multi family units as well as another 1000 single family homes to be built on State owned land, land we already own.

Central Park Data

Units proposed by ULI Development plan p.41-42

Current projects in Raleigh

All great info...I personally was interested in one thing not present in either plan...moving historic frame structures to lots on the western edge of Lake Wheeler and setting aside more lots for saving other threatened historic structures in downtown, like the old Domicile for instance. I envisioned (like some many others with visions) a little village centered on Lake Wheeler with Fuller Heights on the east and saved homes with historic info plaques in their front yards all along the west. A modest adjustment of the streets would be needed to align with Fuller Heights Streets, and a crepe myrtle median too....but I am an old house junkie and have my own agenda :D

Edited by Jones133

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..moving historic frame structures to lots on the western edge of Lake Wheeler and setting aside more lots for saving other threatened historic structures in downtown, like the old Domicile for instance. I envisioned (like some many others with visions) a little village centered on Lake Wheeler with Fuller Heights on the east and saved homes with historic info plaques in their front yards all along the west.

Sounds nice, I would prefer that some of the property under some crumbling non-significant houses in Fuller heights be used for that purpose. I feel pretty strongly (as you can imagine) that there not be private residences on the Dorothea Dix Campus. This is public land and should be preserved for public uses.

Why not invest in Fuller Heights and make that a wonderful village adjacent to Dix Park. I personally envision multi story/multi family residences along Lake Wheeler, and then a mix of single family and town houses in Fuller Heights. You may not be aware, but Fuller Heights is over 80% owned by absentee landlords.

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Sounds nice, I would prefer that some of the property under some crumbling non-significant houses in Fuller heights be used for that purpose. I feel pretty strongly (as you can imagine) that there not be private residences on the Dorothea Dix Campus. This is public land and should be preserved for public uses.

Why not invest in Fuller Heights and make that a wonderful village adjacent to Dix Park. I personally envision multi story/multi family residences along Lake Wheeler, and then a mix of single family and town houses in Fuller Heights. You may not be aware, but Fuller Heights is over 80% owned by absentee landlords.

Agreed, Fuller Heights needs some help and this might be one idea to accomplish it.....just wondering if you know how the mostly gone now residences of Dix staff on the campus itself were/are administered.....the population, as I understand it, was quite large at one time, were homes provided as part of compensation? Were they rented? Did rents revert to Dix ops or to the State general fund? From what I can tell by biking around the campus, there are many remains of residential roads on the 306 acres in question, so it appears to me that preserving many areas of Dix as open space would be preserving a more modern look, as Dix is much less active today than in years past, however my understanding of Dix history is far from complete. This is not to say there is not merit in the plan you support........I am a little underwhelmed by what has taken place to date though....my only reservation stems from the fact that I cannot afford to live in Boylan Heights, making the appearance that Dix park preservation is somehow skewed towards making it a big dog walking trail for these wealthy residents...it is not a walk that conventioners will take until Heritage Park cleans up, and its isolation is the biggest drawback to it being a 300 acre park, and it does indeed feel very isolated, this is of course also a big argument against the ULI plan also with 200 acres being a personal dog trail for ULI plan residents....if the city grid approached the lands perimeter I might be more excited about something, but Western lacks even sidewalks, the Boylan/Western intersection is very limited, S Saunders /Lake Wheeler has no connection to Western, Lake Wheeler has no sidewalks, Centennial has provided a nice big park and ride lot facing western Dix, no urban approach there, and I do not expect much better from NCSU on the Spring Hill tract......I guess in a big round about way I have decided the present acessibility of any park plan must be addressed a whole lot better but maybe that devil will be fleshed out in the details.....

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JHuberman,

I'm very glad to see you on the board. As great as UP is, we can occasionally fall victim to the 'echo chamber' effect. You state your case well and make a convincing argument. I definitely think that we should develop as little of dix as possible- only as much as is needed to integrate it with the city. As I think about it more I'm starting to realize that the answer to how much land needs to be developed to link the park with the city really is very close to zero.

I like the thought of the park's borders extending all the way to Lake Wheeler. Let everything on the other side redevelop and densify as much as it wants.

That's not to say I am 100% in agreement with the FDDP plan. A couple of questions I have:

1. How can the goals of preservation, parkland, and office space come together as a cohesive whole?

How do you leave the historically significant buildings and let them serve as offices, tear down non-contributing structures, and still make Dix come together as a coherent park rather than a historic but inconsistent jumble of random structures and open space?

2. What's your position on the issue of vehicular connectivity through the park?

For example, the city has a planned connector from (I think) Morgan Street to Blair Drive. The connector would start at the bend in Morgan north of the RR tracks, run between Central Prison and the Gov. Morehead school, cross Western, and go on through Dix to link with Blair. This would be a great connection between downtown, the park, and Centennial Campus for pedestrians, bicycles, transit, and vehicles alike.

Even Central Park (the park that you repeatedly use as a model here) has four transverse roads that cross it laterally. This serves a dual purpose; it provides access to the middle of the park, and it allows the park to exist without geting in the way of the city. These roads were designed with care not to be too detrimental to the park. I think something like this could be appropriate at Dix.

3. Why is the FDDP concept plan so utterly minimalistic?

There are 306 acres to work with to make a world-class public space, and what does the plan do? Bulldoze some buildings, build a pedestrian bridge over Western, and... absolutely nothing else. For example, on the map, FDDP shows the existing gazebo near Boylan as one of the park's main attractions. This makes me wonder if, in spite of being bold and calling for dedication of all 306 acres as a park, FDDP is terrified of doing anything with the space after it's been dedicated.

FDDP should be more adventurous with what they do here, and I'm not just talking more ballfields and swingsets. Formal gardens, public artwork, monuments, pavillions, an ice skating rink, even a school - who knows. Perhaps FDDP is just doing this to leave a 'blank slate,' and leave the argument over what to do here until after the park is dedicated.

Preservation is certainly laudable, but if you leave everything exactly as it is now, you'll end up with a park that draws neither people nor investment. Don't develop it all at once, of course. But it would be a good idea to at least give the public an idea of the scope of what can really be done if all of Dix is a park.

Edited by orulz

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But look at what is happening in downtown. There is nearly a billion dollars worth of development happening in the historic urban core right now. These new people will need new parkland and if we want a walkable city we need a park we can walk to -- from Fayetteville Street, from the new Convention Center and the new hotels being built around it, and from Glenwood South... you get the picture.

As Mr. Rodger's pictures posted to this thread show, the 200 acre park proposed by ULI can be walked to as easily as the 306 acre park. Also, two other parks exist for the areas mentioned -- Fred Fletcher Park is closer to Glenwood South than Dix, and Chavis Park is closer to Fayetville Street than Dix. To say nothing of Moore and Nash Squares. Central Park is the *only* park land on the island of Manhattan. With Fred Fletcher, Chavis, Pullen and 200 acres from Dix, Raleigh would have more park land than Central Park. This doesn't count the greenways or other parks ITB. Raleigh's parks are decentralized. You don't have to go to one, central park to go to a park.

Out of the 5,000 people moving here every six months, how many are moving inside the beltline? How many are moving within a half mile radius of downtown? I don't have any numbers, but I would guess maybe 250, if that. The other 4,750 are moving to places near other existing parks and future parks you yourself said the city is creating.

They are not going to live in a high rise near Dix because they don't have to. Again, going back to your NYC example, Manhattan is an *island*. Land is scarce, so people have to build up, they can't build out. In Raleigh, that is not the case. People have demonstrated they have no problem living further out. Most of the area's growth is occuring in the exurbs, outside 540 -- Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina, Clayton, Knightdale/Wendell, Wake Forest/Franklinton, Creedmoor, Chatam County, etc., to say nothing of Brier Creek and Wakefield inside Raleigh city limits but outside 540.

If development was halted in all these areas, there would be demand for denser development, but a lot of that would start in the CBD's hundreds of parking lots before the Dix area. After that, growth would go to the other "focus areas" -- Crabtree, Brier Creek, and 540/Capitol Blvd. To say nothing of the hundreds of acres of developable land inside the beltline in southeast Raleigh.

With devlopment plans being "multi story/multi family residences along Lake Wheeler, and then a mix of single family and town houses in Fuller Heights" Dix park would not be for the public, but a playground for the rich. Where else is development going to go? Do you think historic Boylan Heights would allow multi-story buildings along Doretha Drive? Heck no.

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...

1. How can the goals of preservation, parkland, and office space come together as a cohesive whole?

How do you leave the historically significant buildings and let them serve as offices, tear down non-contributing structures, and still make Dix come together as a coherent park rather than a historic but inconsistent jumble of random structures and open space?

2. What's your position on the issue of vehicular connectivity through the park?

For example, the city has a planned connector from (I think) Morgan Street to Blair Drive. The connector would start at the bend in Morgan north of the RR tracks, run between Central Prison and the Gov. Morehead school, cross Western, and go on through Dix to link with Blair. This would be a great connection between downtown, the park, and Centennial Campus for pedestrians, bicycles, transit, and vehicles alike.

Even Central Park (the park that you repeatedly use as a model here) has four transverse roads that cross it laterally. This serves a dual purpose; it provides access to the middle of the park, and it allows the park to exist without geting in the way of the city. These roads were designed with care not to be too detrimental to the park. I think something like this could be appropriate at Dix.

3. Why is the FDDP concept plan so utterly minimalistic?

There are 306 acres to work with to make a world-class public space, and what does the plan do? Bulldoze some buildings, build a pedestrian bridge over Western, and... absolutely nothing else. ... Perhaps FDDP is just doing this to leave a 'blank slate,' and leave the argument over what to do here until after the park is dedicated....

3. Why is the FDDP concept plan so utterly minimalistic?

I'll answer your last question first:

Friends of Dorothea Dix Park (FDDP) doesn't really take a stand on a particular plan for the details within the park. That is well beyond our scope. At this time we are working toward a commitment to preserve the land for public use and developing a financial plan to show the legislators that this great vision is feasable.

We expect that the design of a master plan with public input and expert assistance would be the first step and that the park development would take place over many years. That said I can offer my personal vision to address your other questions.

1. How can the goals of preservation, parkland, and office space come together as a cohesive whole?

FDDP only recommends preservation of the historically significant buildings. I don't expect that I will be deciding which buildings those are, but I hope the little cinder block and sheet steal buildings aren't included. Since we want no additional square footage of building footprint in the historic core the removal of these "non significant or non conforming" buildings would open up space for new buildings built in an historically appropriate style to be built in the historic core and in such a way as to maintain the campus look and feel. I would like to see the historic core contain some "destination" for park visitors. I don't know what this would be, but I have given examples in previous posts. In addition, the DHHS offices would occupy a large portion of the buildings and could support a couple of restaurants and cafes that could be grouped around a central square with several of the park venues. As there were more park visitors I would expect a transition to meet the needs of the public. The tree lined roads already connect the historic core to the other areas of the park. I see transportation to and through Dix via CAT and possibly Wolfline connecting Centennial Campus, the NCSU main campus, the convention center and the downtown parking areas to the park.

2. What's your position on the issue of vehicular connectivity through the park?

I see the existing park road system supporting daily access to the offices and it could be used by park visitors as available, however I would like to see the major transportation routes be around rather than through the park. As the population pressure increased I would expect the inner park roads to be for pedestrians and bicycles after hours and on weekends. (You were incorrect about vehicles in Central Park. The transverse roads do not stop or offer access into the park. There are some roads that run around near the perimeter of the park that are open during rush hour, but open only for pedestrians and bicycles most of the time.)

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As Mr. Rodger's pictures posted to this thread show, the 200 acre park proposed by ULI can be walked to as easily as the 306 acre park. Also, two other parks exist for the areas mentioned -- Fred Fletcher Park is closer to Glenwood South than Dix, and Chavis Park is closer to Fayetville Street than Dix. To say nothing of Moore and Nash Squares. ... Raleigh's parks are decentralized. You don't have to go to one, central park to go to a park.

Thanks for the opportunity to state my main point again more clearly. As you have pointed out, Raleigh has many excellent neighborhood parks that serve their local neighbors quite well. And the ULI Development Plan also provides for an excellent passive neighborhood park both for Boylan Heights and the neighborhood it creates (which is over 10 times the size of Boylan Heights). The 200 acre park consisting of flood plain and hillsides that the ULI Development Plan creates will be a great place for these people to walk their dogs throw a Frisbee and have a picnic.

Neither this park nor the other parks you have mentioned are, or have the potential to become, major destination parks that can be an economic engine for Raleigh and the region. It won't happen over night, and it won't happen at all if the whole campus including the Historic Core and Great Field isn't included.

But if we work together with a grand vision; If NCSU participates, if Downtown Raleigh participates; if the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services participates; if the citizens and the artists and philanthropists, the environmentalists and local developers, the children and the students; If we all work together toward this grand vision we can have a park that will truly be world class. A park with theater, science, culture, art, giant old trees, water features, transportation, open green space and historic courtyards.

It is this vision that is possible now, now. Once we rip this land apart, once we build another housing development like all the other housing developments, a shopping center like all the other shopping centers, and an office park like all the other office parks then this vision is gone. Gone forever. Raleigh has lost! Raleigh has lost its once in a century opportunity.

Let us not try and find all the ways this Great Park can fail. If you demand that every "i" be dotted and every "t" crossed before we commit ourselves to this great project then it can't be done. There is risk, of course there is risk. There is risk commensurate with the gains. But let me end with this final thought. If we dedicate the land to a park and in five or ten years we decide we have failed we can still build a development, but if we build a development now and later realize we have made a mistake it will be too late... the opportunity for the great park will be lost forever.

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What I can't understand is how anyone can say with a straight face that what Raleigh needs on the Dix land is another mixed used development. What?! There's plenty of room around the Triangle for development. Do we really need more townhomes, condos and offices in an area that can potentially be so much more? We should expect something greater of ourselves and our leaders out of such a prime and pristine location.

Nevertheless, there appears to be a number of posters who remain unconvinced about keeping all of the Dix land for a destination park, apparently either under the belief that another mixed use development would be good for Raleigh or that 200 acres of hillside and floodplain is more than enough for a park. Within this debate, the vast majority of the comparisons that have been made for the potential Dix destination park have been to Central Park in NY. While I agree that the Central Park comparison is an apt one, I can also understand how some people reflexively shy away from any comparison between Raleigh and NY.

As such I would like to throw the history of Balboa Park in San Diego into the conversation. Balboa Park was founded in 1868. The population of San Diego at that time was 2,300 and the county was 4,951. Land in the area at that time was vastly undeveloped. Yet despite a population of only a few thousand and a town surrounded by undeveloped land, the civic leaders had the foresight to set aside 1,400 acres on the edge of the town. Let me repeat that ... 1,400 acres. What did they initially do with this land? Nothing. The land remained undeveloped for the first 20 years and the first master plan for the park wasn't completed until 1903. Today Balboa Park still consists of 1,200 acres and has over 500,000 visitors a year from around the world. Now that's VISION!

We have a historic opportunity to do something great, to give Raleigh something that will make it a destination rather than just a stopping off point. Please people. Let's not screw this up.

History of Balboa Park

San Diego Population

Edited by franklinh

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Thanks for your response. Also, thanks for the clarification. Having never having actually visited CP in NY (going there this weekend though!) I was confused about the transverse roads. Still not convinced a road through Dix would be an entirely bad thing, though.

Personally, I had supported development on Dix because I was so used to beating the drums for mixed-use urban development, that my first reaction when I heard Dix Hospital was being shut down was to see an opportunity to densify the core of Raleigh. Dix isn't just any opportunity though; due to the location and the environment, anything that gets built here is a guaranteed home-run success, and to top it off, the public sector has a greater degree of control over what gets built (RFP) and neighborhood opposition is not an issue so the sky was the limit when it came to density. Sounded like a good deal.

Thinking more, though, the first thing that definitely gives me pause about developing any of Dix is that in the US, in 2006, as far as I've seen, there are no developers that are capable of starting with a blank slate this large and ending up with something that even approaches a "real" city urban environment. All the proposals we're likely to see will be internally focused, somewhat denser version of Meadowmont (or "Wade" now under construction by the RBC center.) That seems to be what the ULI plan calls for, at any rate. I'm not interested in anything like that being built anywhere near downtown.

A carefully crafted plan that turns Dix into a park, coupled with an initiative to redevelop most (all?) of the surrounding land to a higher use (bring NCSU on board too!) would probably be better than any initiative to develop the dix land itself.

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Central Park has several through roads in the middle of the park.

Pullen Park is a destination park right now. Chavis Park is a destination park right now. Fred Fletcher is not a destination park because its neighbors don't want it to be. The park land in the ULI proposal is more than "flood plains and hillsides." The ball fields and (CC site removed dirt) amplitheater hill would be other attractions of a 270 acre (combined with Pullen) destination park. A Ferris Wheel and other attractions could be squeezed in easily. Jaycees Park on Wade Avenue is a destination park for sports-oriented people. Also, the NC Museum of Art already has land for a destination park it is creating.

How removing existing uses from 100 acres be an economic engine and developing them won't be. The lost opportunity is the removal of developable land close to downtown and a park. Denying tax revenue from a developed Lake Wheeler corridor *and* requiring additional funding to deconstruct existing Dix buildings is a financial double whammy. Using a TIF to pay for it *is* a tax hike for adjacent properties. With NC State, the Govenor Morehad school, Central Prison and the State Farmer's Market nearby as tax-exempt neighbors, the burden of the TIF will fall squarely on the remaining property owners. Drawing the zone for where TIF funds will be collected from will be tricky as well. Should land north of Boylan Heights and east of South Saunders be taxed to pay down the land aquisition, maintenance, and rehab debt?

Due to its purpose of serving the mentally ill, Dix was self supporting and "inward focused." There is no reason the land use for this property has to continue in this way. The Triangle has a history of "turned inward mixed use" developments -- Fearington, Meadowmount, Southern Village, American Tobacco, North Hills, etc. -- but there is no crystal ball that says this will continue going forward. The ULI plan does not call for this; it only designates parcels of land for development but does not get to the level of inward focused detail.

If history is going to be used to predict the future, why not apply that methodology to parks as well? Raleigh has been around for over 200 years but has no destination park. Two of the four squares set aside for park land set in the original grid were later developed -- the Govenor's mansion and the State Government Complex. Playground equipment, picnic shelters, and other facilities are pitiful in parks not named Pullen inside the beltline. The city considers school grounds at Brier Creek as park land.

NC State already has two features it wants to focus density and devlopment around -- Lake Raleigh and the engineering department's oval. The master plan calls for *nothing* close to Centennial Parkway. To date, NCSU has only put commuter parking lots near the park. These could double as parking for the park, the same way NC State's east campus lots offer parking for Pullen Park at nights and on weekends.

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Pullen Park is a destination park right now. Chavis Park is a destination park right now. Fred Fletcher is not a destination park because its neighbors don't want it to be. The park land in the ULI proposal is more than "flood plains and hillsides." The ball fields and (CC site removed dirt) amplitheater hill would be other attractions of a 270 acre (combined with Pullen) destination park. A Ferris Wheel and other attractions could be squeezed in easily. Jaycees Park on Wade Avenue is a destination park for sports-oriented people. Also, the NC Museum of Art already has land for a destination park it is creating.

I think our biggest misunderstanding on this topic is the definition of a "Destination Park" I consider Pullen and Chavis to be "Regional" parks as they are defined by the City of Raleigh. And I can certainly see why you don't like to compare them to Central Park. I agree that the 200 acre park in the ULI Dix Development Plan could be on par with these regional parks. But it could be much more if it were given a chance and that chance is what we are all fighting for. In my previous posts I have attempted to communicate the vision of a World Class Destination Park. I am confident that the people of the State of North Carolina, and especially those of us in Wake County can make this vision a reality. We have the talent, the resources, and the framework of the financial plan.

... Using a TIF to pay for it *is* a tax hike for adjacent properties.

A TIF is not a tax hike on anyone. If one's tax goes up because of the increased value of the property then the increase is earmarked for the project. If you are not in the district and your land value goes up you will pay the same amount more whether you are in the TIF district or not.

There is one point, however, the TIF money can't be used by the City or County for other things, so in a sense the tax burden is spread across the whole county. The rational is that the development causes the increased property value, so that without the development the County wouldn't get the taxes anyway.

...

NC State already has two features it wants to focus density and devlopment around -- Lake Raleigh and the engineering department's oval. The master plan calls for *nothing* close to Centennial Parkway. To date, NCSU has only put commuter parking lots near the park. These could double as parking for the park, the same way NC State's east campus lots offer parking for Pullen Park at nights and on weekends.

NCSU gave up its option to develop the "Raleigh Woods" property south of Lake Raleigh because of environmental pressure. The Dix Park could be their new "Front Yard" for desirable development. Partnering with NCSU would be an important win-win for both.

There is another important point to address:

This is State Owned Property -- The property of the People of North Carolina

There needs to be compelling reasons to use it for private development?

The developers need to prove that the highest best use of the property is their private development. The preservation of the land for the People of North Carolina should be the standard by which the other plans are judged.

Note:

NC Division of Mental Health, Development Disabilities, & Substance Abuse Services Budget 2006-7 authorized budget as of 8/31/06 ~ $1.1 billion (another ~ billion if you include Medicaid)

Typical interstate interchange ~ $50 million

Original budget overrun in 2006 of the Raleigh Convention Center ~ $35 million

Land Design & ULI panel estimation of Dix Land value ~ $40 million

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I am all for parks and greenways and all that fun stuff, but lets just be real here for a minute. The comparison to Central Park is absurd. Raleigh will probably never have as many people living in the entire city as there are living in walking distance from Central Park. Central Park should not even be used in the same sentence with Dorthea Dix campus because no matter how much preservation and park like ammenities are put there it will never be comparable to Central park. I do believe that most of the land should be set aside for a park. 200 acres is plenty of land to make an incredible urban park. With the connection to Pullen Park I dont see what the big deal is over it being 200 acres vs. 300+. It's not like someones going to walk into the park, look at it and say "Hmm, this park is only 200 acres and not worthy of my patronage because it isn't what I wanted it to be." People are going to complain and argue about whatever is done with that land. The ULI plan looks like a happy medium. Hell, the City of Raleigh's plan looked like a happy medium to me, but I guess I'm not the chest beating, I'm gonna get exactly what I want if I have to die trying type. There are much more important things to "battle" over nowadays. I'll just be happy when whatever is going to be done with it is finally done and over with.

amen...I say the ULI plan with a solid Pullen connectiion makes Dix/Pullen Park an even better Destination Park with Dix's proposed added active uses and ampitheatre.

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But if we work together with a grand vision; If NCSU participates, if Downtown Raleigh participates; if the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services participates; if the citizens and the artists and philanthropists, the environmentalists and local developers, the children and the students; If we all work together toward this grand vision we can have a park that will truly be world class. A park with theater, science, culture, art, giant old trees, water features, transportation, open green space and historic courtyards.

It is this vision that is possible now, now. Once we rip this land apart, once we build another housing development like all the other housing developments, a shopping center like all the other shopping centers, and an office park like all the other office parks then this vision is gone. Gone forever. Raleigh has lost! Raleigh has lost its once in a century opportunity.

Let us not try and find all the ways this Great Park can fail. If you demand that every "i" be dotted and every "t" crossed before we commit ourselves to this great project then it can't be done. There is risk, of course there is risk. There is risk commensurate with the gains. But let me end with this final thought. If we dedicate the land to a park and in five or ten years we decide we have failed we can still build a development, but if we build a development now and later realize we have made a mistake it will be too late... the opportunity for the great park will be lost forever.

I'm still confused as to why all of this can't be accomplished on 200 Acres. Grand vision and all...the vision you have portrayed seems myopic thus far. I don't see any other housing, shopping or office development going on this land. That would be a travesty. I'm seeing influx of potential users of a world-class active space that provides views over a grassy hill towards the downtown skyline. I see absentee landlords and investors improving the housing in the surrounding neighborhoods. I'm seeing improved pedestrian, bike and vehicular connections between Centennial Campus, Pullen Park, Dix and Downtown. I think those are Grand Visions...

Even if the ULI plan is approved, I hope there are still people like yourself who will fight to make sure that all of the recreational and cultural amenities are part of the 200 acre park plan. They would only make the development that much popular and unique.

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Central Park has several through roads in the middle of the park.

Due to its purpose of serving the mentally ill, Dix was self supporting and "inward focused." There is no reason the land use for this property has to continue in this way. The Triangle has a history of "turned inward mixed use" developments -- Fearington, Meadowmount, Southern Village, American Tobacco, North Hills, etc. -- but there is no crystal ball that says this will continue going forward. The ULI plan does not call for this; it only designates parcels of land for development but does not get to the level of inward focused detail.

This should be used as a challenge to developers. Each one of the properties are inwardly focused for a variety of reasons: SV and Meadowmont - zoning regulations?; American Tobacco - historical building layout and restrictions; North Hills - heavy traffic on Six Forks.

A developer at the Dix property would not have such restrictions. Plus Raleigh could potentially come up with a Traditional Neighborhood development zone. If we're looking at cookie-cutter so called mixed-use development, then we ARE better off with a 300 acre park. Like has been said before this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the city of Raleigh.

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I'm still confused as to why all of this can't be accomplished on 200 Acres. Grand vision and all...the vision you have portrayed seems myopic thus far. I don't see any other housing, shopping or office development going on this land. That would be a travesty.

The travesty is to sell any of this land for private development!

If you do some research on great downtown parks you will find that most are about 500 acres or more. Dix, Farmer's market, links into Centenial Campus & Pullen Park just about get us to that number. The 200 acres by itself or with Pullen will be a regional park and great for the people living near by. There is plenty of land around the park that is already privately held, and that is what should be developed.

I'm seeing influx of potential users of a world-class active space that provides views over a grassy hill towards the downtown skyline. I see absentee landlords and investors improving the housing in the surrounding neighborhoods. I'm seeing improved pedestrian, bike and vehicular connections between Centennial Campus, Pullen Park, Dix and Downtown. I think those are Grand Visions...

Look at the development on Cox St., the only private land around Pullen Park. That is what you'll get for your Dix regional park. Look at the development a few blocks away -- no different than any other downtown neighborhood. That is what you'll get in Fuller Heights if you put your big ULI development between Fuller Heights and the Dix regional park.

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I don't agree with the argument the argument that 306 acres of parkland makes it wonderfully world-class, and 200 acres makes it impossible to rise to anything more than a regional playground.

You can do a lot with 200 acres. There's no reason why it couldn't even still be world class. You obviously can't do as much as you could with 306 acres, but even if a plan that develops some of the Dix land goes through, the loss of acreage is regrettable but certainly no reason to give up on creating a world-class park.

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I can go with the idea that developers may be inside tracking this...that a crapped out inward focused setup development is useless to the city as a whole, and also that new buildings will destroy the historical character of the existing buildings, I grew up the son of a park ranger and am quite sure that no park plan would be crippled by a reduction from 300 to 200 acres....what type of land is a different question entirely....the big field is quite versatile, so there might be a leg to stand on there....

Speaking history....Cox Avenue used to have a huge Mansion, owned by none other than fomer Confederate general Cox. We can thank the Brownestone for that loss. The working class houses were a result of the fact that at the turn of century Pullen was very much away from the city even with the big houses going up on Enterprise, Ferndell and Maiden.

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I ...am quite sure that no park plan would be crippled by a reduction from 300 to 200 acres....what type of land is a different question entirely....the big field is quite versatile, so there might be a leg to stand on there....

I don't agree with the argument...that 306 acres of parkland makes it wonderfully world-class, and 200 acres makes it impossible to rise to anything more than a regional playground...

Of course you can have a nice 200 acre park, and Raleigh has a track record that supports that, however in this case the connections to other areas and the synergy with its neighbors is lost in the ULI development plan. Take a look at the following map of the ULI development plan with other boundries superimposed over the Google hybrid map of the area.

You can clearly see that the mixed use and residential development cuts off the access to the Fuller Heights and Carraleigh Mill areas. It also blocks the connection into Centenial Campus' natural wetlands area along Walnut creek that leads to Raleigh's Walnut Creek Park under development, the Lake Raleigh Woods and the future golf course. Map showing these wetland connections.

It is this synergy that makes the 300 acre park into a 500 acre park with natural areas as well as open fields, manacured groves and an historic district. This perceved expansion of the park with space for oportunities that will present themselves over the decades will allow this space to become a "World Class Park".

The burden of proof must be on the developers to show why we should turn over 150 acres of unique inner city land for private profit rather than keeping it in the public domain for eveyone's enjoyment.

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The burden of proof must be on the developers to show why we should turn over 150 acres of unique inner city land for private profit rather than keeping it in the public domain for eveyone's enjoyment.

I agree that this should be the case, but I also think that there needs to be a practical side to whatever plan is decided upon. How can we realistically pay for such a plan and how can we make the case to the state legislators that it's a financially viable proposal?

Who will be able to successfully make the case to the General Assembly (the state owns the land) that a decision to make this all a park is a financially viable plan? Like it or not, most NC legislators probably don't care much about whether Dix should be preserved as a park or not. They care about the state receiving a financial return on it's sale of land to the city or some other entity. In reality, this is a City of Raleigh and Wake County issue--not a state issue. Therefore the city/county will have to make their case to the state.

Politically, there is obviously dissent between local decision-makers and citizen groups. Meeker and other local GA delegation members favor the ULI plan, whereas there is a grassroots effort by FDDP and others to pursue the 100% Park plan. I believe that unless something happens relatively soon by FDDP, their efforts will be lost as the city council and the Wake GA delegation move to pursue the ULI Plan. FDDP needs to cash in some political capital or find a few friends in high places really soon, or the all-park plan may be lost.

EDIT: I went to the FDDP site and watched the video, and I must say, I am very impressed with who they have on their side, and the concept of a city or state central park is beginning to sway me. I went on a bike ride over there a couple of weeks ago (see pics earlier in the thread), and it was a great time. I just know how much sway the development industry has around here, and their will be so much pressure on the lawmakers to allow some development that I just don't know how Dix Park will be preserved given the myriad of pressures present in the debate. It's going to be a tough road ahead for park supporters.

Edited by ChiefJoJo

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I've read through everything and tried to keep an open mid, but I thought I'd weigh in with my opinions. Personally I'd like to see something similar to the ULI plan, but with an emphasis on connecting the "new park" to Pullen via land swap and a pedestrian bridge over Western (bonus points if the Pullen train goes over the bridge). Also every non- single family development there should have ground level retail.

First thing I'd like to bring up is all of the Central Park references (I cringed when I looked at Pullen's website and noticed that they started calling themselves Raleigh's Central Park) Yes Central Park is a world class park, but that is because it is in one of the greatest cities in the world. Central Park works because of the city around it: I'm as much of a Raleigh booster as anyone else but Raleigh isn't and won't become NYC.

There are more people on the island of Manhattan than in the entire Triangle Metro; if you took every person in Wake, Orange, Durham, Johnston etc etc and put them inside the beltline (440) and built an excellent mass transit system then we can begin to start talking about comparing the numbers of people with access to Dix park and Central Park. Now the natural response is to call me shortsighted and say that I have no idea what Raleigh will look like in 150 years. Raleigh is a sunbelt city and growing rapidly and has doubled in size over the past 25 years. The fact that it is a sunbelt city is exactly why it will never have the density of Manhattan island. Like other sunbelt cities Raleigh's growth has mainly come on the periphery. While our downtown core is growing, it is not going to just magically grow until it fills the inside of the beltline. Instead we'll continue to see other focus areas (North Hills, Crabtree etc) increase in density. Looking at Raleigh's geography and demographics we're not going to get to the point where a million plus people are in walking distance of Dix Park. Manhattan's population is tightly packed and centralized; a central park makes sense. Raleigh's population is spread over a much larger region, as are its parks.

Next is the issue of connectivity. It seems to me that developing some of the park will do wonders for connecting it to the outside world. The type of development is important: I don't want to see a self contained urban village. Instead I hope to see an extension of downtown that connects to centennial campus. Obviously the people living on the developed Dix land will have great access to it. ULI is ensuring the success of the remaining park land by thousands of people on its doorstep. Additionally if the area can be designed as a true connection between Downtown and Centennial Campus you give those residents easy access to the park. I've already talked about the possibility of connecting the "new" park land to Pullen (I'll admit not as ambitious as connecting it to the wetlands and Lake Raleigh.) One thing I don't understand is how a walkable urban development would cut off access to the park instead of adding to it?

ChiefJoJo is 100% right in calling this a Raleigh/ Wake County Issue. The State is just looking to be compensated for the land and doesn't really care too much about its fate. The city of Raleigh has the opportunity to buy the land, sell some of it to recover losses and continue to make tax revenue off of that valuable land forever. Moreover that revenue will be many times more than enough to help maintain/improve the other 200 acres kept as parkland and make it a true destination.

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JHuberman, the connections to other existing and proposed park sites makes sense to me now. I think with emphasis on financial feasibility, a nice clear line drawn around the proposed total connected park area (Pullen + Dix + Cetennial + Walnut Creek), and some acknowledgement of the need to correct the urban form surrounding Dix many others might be swayed. Also, if you could find a small chunk of land to cut loose, and mix into the other necessary improvements to surrounding urban form and talk up a super dense build up of that portion (even 10 acres), and you might win over even more of your "opposition". I realize this is contrary to your private development/public use stance, but it is the bone you may have to throw to satisfy the money fists.....the more familiar I get with the NC legislature, the sadder I am that nothing gets done unless every hand gets a piece of the pie.....consensus, not majority rule, wins out....

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