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Dorothea Dix Property

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Today's N&O articles deal with primarily the Big Field, or Great Lawn. It is a vital part of the ULI plan which would swap some of the Big Field to NCSU in exchange for land in NCSU's Spring Hill district becoming part of a Dix 215 acre park.

The Big Field

Dix-NCSU land swap sets up a tussle

Land swap is up in the air

Basically, the Big Field is the sticking point. If NC State agrees that they are OK with the land swap, then that gives the ULI plan major momentum. If not, it adds to the 306 acre Dix Park advocates plans.

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker wants to trade the 47-acre grassy field with N.C. State University and allow houses and townhouses to be built on the state hospital property, which is just southwest of downtown.

Meeker praised the idea of a trade, saying it would help create a 215-acre park that is larger than any of the previous proposals. He said park advocates are being inflexible in demanding the site be kept to its current borders.

"You really can't negotiate with them," he said.

But advocates say it is those who want to develop the land who are being obstinate. They note that multiple proposals drawn up for the site have called for extensive development, even though polls and public meetings have shown that to be unpopular.

"I don't understand why we're trying to build another Triangle Town Center at Dix Park," said Jay Spain, board president of the Friends of Dorothea Dix Park.

...there are few options for other parts of the [Dix] land [other than the Big Field].

Hospital buildings, state offices and parking lots are already on about 75 acres of the campus. An old landfill is now topped by soccer fields, and the area along Rocky Branch Creek is in a flood plain, so neither could be developed.

But proposals have varied greatly on what to do with the big field.

Ironically, the Spring Hill area originally was part of Dorothea Dix hospital campus.

The 129-acre section, which includes the historic plantation home of Theophilus Hunter Jr., was given to the Centennial Campus by former Gov. Jim Hunt shortly before he left office. The university's long-term plans include residential, commercial and academic buildings there.

Meeker supports the trade, but he said it would not be a problem if it doesn't work out, either. "If the university did not want to swap, then it would go back to the big field being a park," he said.

...

Meeker said he has the "impression" that the university is not interested in a swap. But university officials won't rule it out, either.

Leffler, who is in charge of finance, said the decision will be made based on whether a swap helps the university accomplish its goals of promoting business and providing housing. "We don't see necessarily that the swap is needed to accomplish the things that are sought here," he said.

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I was really pleased to read about the program at Dix Hospital. It is important that the County finish its arrangements with the local hospitals to set up mental health capacity before the Dix hospital closes.

The FDDP park plan suggests TIF financing, and under NC law proceeds can be used for medical care, so the park could help finance either State or Local mental health programs.

We can't do this until all the parties are working together and decide to create the Destination Park economic engine. The TIF can't cover all the costs, but it can be used as seed money to make other monies available.

Joseph

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Here's a BTB article on Dix...

King Philip II guarded the Macedonian empire by keeping the Greek city-states divided. Create petty feuds between the underlords, ally with those willing to cooperate with the overlords, foment distrust and acrimony among the locals.

Come on, Dix supporters, check those egos at the door and get everyone on the same team.

I hadn't realized until recently that they are infact all different groups. Pretty amazing. BTB is right, if the 306 park had any chance, it's time to unite or else the big vision is probably finished.

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Come on, Dix supporters, check those egos at the door and get everyone on the same team.

I hadn't realized until recently that they are in fact all different groups. Pretty amazing. BTB is right, if the 306 park had any chance, it's time to unite or else the big vision is probably finished.

Don't be disturbed by the three groups.

Dix306 is the grassroots movement. Notice that if you go to Dix306.org you will be asked to join "Friends of Dorothea Dix Park" at DixPark.org. You will also be asked to pitch in and help if you are so inclined. Dix306 sends people out to meetings to give presentations, puts up signs, and calls people. If you want to roll up your sleeves, meet every Monday and get to work, then you should join us at Dix306. No charge to join Dix306.

Friends of Dorothea Dix Park" at DixPark.org is the "Think Tank". FDDP has the complex answers to the questions, the map resources and financial analysis of the TIF plan. Friends of Dix is the group you should join to support the Park Plan. Memberships range from $10 for students to $35 for a family and up to $50 for a group membership.

"Dix Visionaries" are are the influential group of philanthropists. We would love it if you would like to join that group, membership starts at $2500.

We are all working to support the FDDP plan. We are working in different ways, and there is enough overlap in the membership that we are pulling together toward the same goal.

We have been getting good press and having productive meetings at all levels. If you want to help, send an email to [email protected] or [email protected] whichever you prefer.

Joseph

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What exactly does all that money go to? $2500 to join the "Dix Visionaries"?!?!? I better get a diamond ring and matching bracelet and earrings for that price.

The FDDP Park Plan was developed by John Hoal, from H3 studio in St. Louis, who designed Forest Park in St. Louis, and our financial "White Paper" was designed by a team under the guidance of Greg Hummel, a lawyer who specializes in public / private partnerships and funding of public projects. These are two nationally recognized experts in their fields.

John Hoal

http://news-info.wustl.edu/sb/page/normal/153.html

http://h3studio.com/

Greg Hummel

http://www.bellboyd.com/professionals.php?...;AttorneyID=150

This plan is for real, and the economics works (or could work if we can work the politics out). The vision is fantastic and it is backed with experience. Check out their bio's and go to the DixPark.org site and get into the details.

Joseph

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Is it even a close bet that Raleigh can even secure this property? May we see the state move many of the operations from DT to this spot for easier parking (see Green Square)?

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Joe, There have been something like 8-10 plans put forward for Dix (even if they only differ slightly in some ways), so I think three park groups could add to the confusion. I completely support the park vision, but I wonder if at least the perception (by lawmakers and citizens) of a splintered group is hurting the cause. There might be technicalities as to why the three groups co-exist under three names, but I have to think that the BTB post is a valid point.

Why not simply consolidate the groups and charge money at multiple giving levels... free (306), gold ($35), platinum ($50) and diamond ($2500)?

Is it even a close bet that Raleigh can even secure this property? May we see the state move many of the operations from DT to this spot for easier parking (see Green Square)?

Dan, that's a legitimate question, and one that Meeker often points out in meetings. It is the state's property, and it is premature to assume the city can in fact buy it. The assumption is the state is more interested in unloading unused property for cash than trying to redevelop it themselves (they've done this elsewhere in the state) That's where the mixed-use idea came from in their plan to begin with and provided a blueprint for LandDesign & ULI's efforts which were somewhat dictated by this goal.

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Joe, ... I think three park groups could add to the confusion. ... Why not simply consolidate the groups and charge money at multiple giving levels...

It evolved into these three groups, and the people who are doing the work are happy with this arrangement. Both 306 and Visionaries can work in radically different ways without stepping on each others toes, and everyone can support the same FDDP plan.

... It is the state's property, and it is premature to assume the city can in fact buy it.

That is absolutely correct, and that is why we are lobbying the Legislature and getting people from around the state to call their legislators. Remember it is not necessary for the City to buy the property. There are many ways the property could be dedicated as a park for future generations, and income derived from the development around the perimeter.

Joseph

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Here's a new question (well atleast to me) about how to use the park.

Why not use 1/4 of it to entice a new MLB franchise to NC? MLB staduims are not so big that it would require all 306 acres for parking, shops, or the stadium.

It would also stop the City Council from building a new Arena dowtown. Since that is already on their mind.

Imange having this:

inside_camden_yards.jpg

Or this:Petco Park in San Deigo: 70% Ownership to SD

300px-PetcoPark.jpg

In the city of Raleigh? Have a whole 100-200 acres surrounding a lush and popular downtown attraction would be beyond anything a Park or Homes could bring the City and State.

Or I'm just crazy. And love baseball. :shades:

Edited by yankeeblue

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What a craptastic idea. "Raleigh's central park" --ha. Central park is sorrounded by tall buildings that form a walled room. The heavily used central park is a haven for a city with no greenery. Raleigh on the other hand is sprawled out and every one has a "park" they don't use in their back yards. If they do use it, it is by their kids for only a decade or so. What about umstead or pullen or the other little parks. A park that big will be under used and just stupid. Using this land as a park is just wastefull and further fueling sprawl into "wilderness." You can not have both urban and country in your city ---or you end up with the cities we have shamefully developed (being the key word) over the last century.

I think think the bigger issues are how to tie this into downtown in a way that will not detract, but enhance it.

YAY TO PARKS ---in our backyards, in our cities--underutilized and fueling sprawl into the countryside which the park supporters also seem to want to protect. :blink:

Edited by frey

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The idea behind Dix Park is to make the park, and then over the decades and centuries hence, build up the urban wall to surround it. When the land for Central Park was first set aside, it was not surrounded by high rises. It was surrounded by single-family homes (mostly shacks, probably), tenement buildings, factories, and (yes) plenty of undeveloped and unincorporated land. Raleigh ain't New York, but then again it doesn't have to be for the park to become an urban development magnet.

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Dix is huge in comparisson to central park. It's scale and the private parks of back yards still makes this ridiculous.

Central park wasn't set asside, but left asside. It was land that was unbuildable at the time. Manhatten also benifeits from water bordering the city. Raleigh on the other hand is bordered by land and little towns it can annex.

Even our downtown squares are not bordered by buildings of enough height to make them a true urban park.

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... Central park is surrounded by tall buildings that form a walled room. The heavily used central park is a haven for a city with no greenery. ...

When Central Park in NYC was dedicated the population of NYC was about the same as Raleigh has now.

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Dix is huge in comparisson to central park. ...

Even our downtown squares are not bordered by buildings of enough height to make them a true urban park.

It was until Gov. Hunt gave 1700 acres to the NCSU. Now it is under half the size of Central Park NYC (800acres vs 306acres)

Our downtown squares are not bordered by buildings yet, but downtown is growing, note Park Devereau on Nash Square, and that is just the beginning!

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I don't know if anyone noticed but a new DHHS facility is being proposed in Easley's budget for 25 acres on the Dix Property off Lake Wheeler Rd. How will this affect any potential sale of this property? I personally don't think the state is giving it up.

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The only way Dix Park succeeds is if it is connected to downtown. To connect it to downtown, Heritage Park and the neighborhood between South Street and West Cabarrus will need to be wiped off the map. The redevelopment of these "blighted areas" is a way to move the poor even further from the downtown core to make more room for the rich. Only those who can afford to contribute $2,500 are "visionaries". The Healing Place of Wake County on the south part of the property is another example of "blight", ignored on most maps that only label the farmer's market and the hospital buildings.

The park won't be for everyone -- only the rich who can afford a condo in the adjacent condos. Like transitman said, few people use the property now outside the grove. The Friends of Dix are in love with the *idea* of a park, not the park that actually exists.

Dix supporters have no problem twist things to be good or bad to promote their agenda.

From the website -- "By turning the Historic Core into a densely developed office park it eliminates the opportunity for museums and other attractions to locate in the the Historic Core preventing this unique area from becoming part of the attraction to the site." Wrong. The historic core could be mixed use with a museum, shops, restaurants, etc. at street level and offices above. Most of the park visits will be on nights and weekends, exactly when the office workers won't be there. Or they may live nearby and walk to work.

Advocates say selling any of the 306 acres would make the remaining park a "playground for the rich", but tall condos and other structures surrounding the park magically won't.

According to their logic, selling any land for development, and the developement that occurs there won't raise a signficant amount of money to pay for the land purchase, but tax-exempt NC State's redevelopment of the west border on Spring Hill will.

Centennial Campus dominates the west and short south sides -- a TIF will raise *no* money there.

To the north is Western Blvd, not a pedestrian friendly corridor. On the north side of Western Blvd, the Govenor Morehead School, the department of agriculture, and Central Prison take up half the frontage. A TIF district would contribute *nothing* from this land. The rest of the north boundary, Boylan Heights, will fight high rises. Property taxes will rise slowly becaues the area will never go vertical.

To the northeast is Heritage Park and Gateway park -- public housing complexes. The area around them have contributed little to the tax base and won't for the future unless they are closed.

This puts the majority of the TIF potential on the land east of Lake Wheeler Road. There are a lot of warehouses that could be redevloped, but it will be difficult to combine parcels in Fuller Heights. The existing housing stock won't appreciate in value the way Boylan Heights have since there are few homes larger than 1500 square feet.

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It evolved into these three groups, and the people who are doing the work are happy with this arrangement. Both 306 and Visionaries can work in radically different ways without stepping on each others toes, and everyone can support the same FDDP plan.

That is absolutely correct, and that is why we are lobbying the Legislature and getting people from around the state to call their legislators. Remember it is not necessary for the City to buy the property. There are many ways the property could be dedicated as a park for future generations, and income derived from the development around the perimeter.

Joseph

Could it be another case of people getting involved to create political careers? The Oberlin Project (otherwise known as Coker Towers) created City councilpersons, State Senators, WC Comishers,etc). I just question why some of these people get involved and create groups? I think a lot has to do with their own political careers....maybe that is why there are so many groups adn no central movement...................."why join with another group when I will be drown out and not as important and will not be quoted in the N&O"

Edited by Subway Scoundrel

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The idea behind Dix Park is to make the park, and then over the decades and centuries hence, build up the urban wall to surround it. When the land for Central Park was first set aside, it was not surrounded by high rises. It was surrounded by single-family homes (mostly shacks, probably), tenement buildings, factories, and (yes) plenty of undeveloped and unincorporated land. Raleigh ain't New York, but then again it doesn't have to be for the park to become an urban development magnet.

I agree but there are a 1M people that live right next to Central Park. That will never happen in Raleigh. Even in 50 years, it will not happen and who is to say the city and builders will build the right development around the park? People in North Raleigh can use Umstead as it is closer. People don't drive 20 miles to go to the park now....what will change that.

What will change that is to have people that live in the park. It has to have a community/people in the park at great numbers.

I hate to say this but I think Dix306 and these other groups are "close inside the beltliners" who want a park to call their own when they already have Pullen, parts of NCSU, Red Diamond/theater in the park, etc. Yea, lets give the Boylan Heighters a park that big. Just does not make sense.

I think the Dix park with no one living in the park will create a black hole where criminals will run wild and it will not be safe during the day, let along at night. It is too big. I am all for a park but put people in it or no one will go due to nothing but police cars and drug dealers.

Or have 500K people move around the edges within 4 years.

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Could it be another case of people getting involved to create political careers? The Oberlin Project (otherwise known as Coker Towers) created City councilpersons, State Senators, WC Comishers,etc). I just question why some of these people get involved and create groups? I think a lot has to do with their own political careers....maybe that is why there are so many groups adn no central movement...................."why join with another group when I will be drown out and not as important and will not be quoted in the N&O"

Not for me that's for sure - I'd rather be sailing. I've had enough meetings already, but I believe in it enough to persevere.

The three groups are the central movement. We all support the same plan.

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I agree but there are a 1M people that live right next to Central Park. That will never happen in Raleigh. Even in 50 years, it will not happen and who is to say the city and builders will build the right development around the park? People in North Raleigh can use Umstead as it is closer. People don't drive 20 miles to go to the park now....what will change that.
This park won't be a minimally developed, heavily forested nature preserve like Umstead. You have to remember that the term 'park' applies to an extremely broad range of facilities. This park could incorporate a museum(museums?), formal gardens, plazas, excercise / recreational amenities, community service facilities, the Farmer's Market...

I hate to say this but I think Dix306 and these other groups are "close inside the beltliners" who want a park to call their own when they already have Pullen, parts of NCSU, Red Diamond/theater in the park, etc. Yea, lets give the Boylan Heighters a park that big. Just does not make sense.
Can't speak directly to this accusation but I'm in Chapel Hill and I support this park.

Presumably, one of the pre-conditions to this park plan is that surrounding land owners consent to their property & neighborhoods changing and redeveloping. There's no guarantee this will happen, and 'nimbyism' against densification around this park could turn out to be the Achilles Heel of the FDDP plan, but that remains to be seen. This is a discussion we need to have before this moves forward.

There's already pressure building to make Central Prison go away, eventually. Does Governor Morehead School need their big field and track along Western for future expansion? Or could they accommodate future growth with further build-out on their existing footprint?

I think the Dix park with no one living in the park will create a black hole where criminals will run wild and it will not be safe during the day, let along at night. It is too big. I am all for a park but put people in it or no one will go due to nothing but police cars and drug dealers.

Or have 500K people move around the edges within 4 years.

What keeps Dix from being a criminal playground already? From what I can tell, the FDDP plan indicates that there will be little drop off of activity here. Initially, the hospital & surrounding buildings will be occupied by DHHS; gradually DHHS will be moved off-site, and other public (park-related) uses (museums, etc) will take their place.

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The only way Dix Park succeeds is if it is connected to downtown. To connect it to downtown, Heritage Park and the neighborhood between South Street and West Cabarrus will need to be wiped off the map. The redevelopment of these "blighted areas" is a way to move the poor even further from the downtown core to make more room for the rich. Only those who can afford to contribute $2,500 are "visionaries". The Healing Place of Wake County on the south part of the property is another example of "blight", ignored on most maps that only label the farmer's market and the hospital buildings.

The park won't be for everyone -- only the rich who can afford a condo in the adjacent condos. Like transitman said, few people use the property now outside the grove. The Friends of Dix are in love with the *idea* of a park, not the park that actually exists.

And more and more I hear about keeping it a Park worries me that this will indeed be where it is at in 20 years.

But seriously, a) does anyone know where the GA is on this issue? b) Baseball, baseball, baseball. Think about it seriously, and I believe it could happen.

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I still can't help but laugh every time the central park comparison is made. In the hopes of never hearing that comparison made again, here are a few statistics. . . .

Central Park: Established in 1853 Central Park History

Manhattan's Population ~1850: 515,000 New York Census 1850

Manhattan's Population Density ~1850: 25,750 people per square mile (20 sq. miles of area)

Raleigh's Estimated population ~2010: 400,000 (My number based on current ~360,000 + 10,000 a year

Raleigh's area ~134 sq miles.

Raleigh's Population Density: 2985 people per square mile (Wikipedia gives a current number of ~2400 based on current numbers.

Manhattan's population density in 1850 is about 9 times more than Raleigh's will be in 2010. This is going to be a horrible approximation, but work with me here. Let's call 2 miles "walking distance." So a circle drawn 2 miles from a park is about 12 square miles. Raleigh would have about 36,000 people in walking distance of a Dix Park. Manhattan in 1850 would have had 309,000!. Manhattan in 2006 had 900,000 people in walking distance of the park. (This quick calulation doesn't account for a lot of things (Manhattan being a "skinny island", Raleigh's poor walkability, Proximity to downtown Raleigh) ,but the numbers still say that they are not even in the same ballpark. Also you have to realize that NYC's tourism is also a major drive in Central Park's success. Central Park works well because it is in one of the greatest cities in the world, with ~million people in walking distance and surrounded by a ton of other attractions. So can we please stop the "Central Park" comparisons?

(Before you call me shortsighted about only looking at Raleigh in 2010, I would be willing to bet my own money that regardless of what type of population explosion we have that we are still not going to have a population density of 25,000 people per square mile in 2050)

I am all for some of Dix park being left as park (some of it left in a pristine state, some of it landscaped, maybe playing fields, amphitheaters maybe a museum or 2) The other part needs to be developed.

@YankeeBlue: I've always thought that a sporting venue (especially a baseball stadium) would make alot of sense in this area. I wouldn't want to see too much land paved over for surface parking (Maybe decks integrated into a potential facility's footprint) The location is perfect however, highway access, rail access and close proximity to downtown.

Edited by romec

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Capitol Broadcasting, owner of the Durham Bulls, will make sure professional baseball *never* enters the city of Raleigh. Minor league teams need permission to be within a certain number of miles of an existing club. The Carolina Mudcats, in Five County stadium in Zebulon, are as close to the Bulls as allowed.

That being said, there could be a stadium.... for football. And St. Augs and Shaw want to build one. It could in the amplitheater area to the southwest part of dix, preserving the big field, grove, etc. A parking deck that would support HHS or other office workers would provide parking on game day/night for high school and college games.

The stadium wouldn't be in southeast raleigh, but would be as close as Carter Finley is to NC State. Big high school games could be played on Friday nights, and larger concerts could play there all summer. It could also be the home field of NC State's men's and women's soccer teams, as Method Road stadium is getting old.

And the Ferris Wheel would have a good view over everything. One facility could have several uses, so it wouldn't sit empty for the majority of the year. Restaurants, etc. could spring up along the North Saunders corridor and/or on the old Cardinal Gibbons high school site west of the park.

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