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Dorothea Dix Property


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Lots of legacy zoos exist in some tight locations, but getting accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for a newly built zoo would require most of the 300 acres -- unless you are willing to exclude large mammals that patrons usually expect to see. They don't build zoos like they used to, for good reason. 

 

Likewise, getting the Pullen Park train over (or under) Western Blvd would be expensive, given contemporary standards.

 

Piedmont Park is 187 acres, by comparison. 

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  • 2 months later...

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Updated plans for Dorothea Dix Park have been revealed: http://amp.newsobserver.com/news/local/counties/wake-county/article219492075.html?__twitter_impression=

Drove through Dorothea Dix property today.  Lot of potential here for sure. 

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State offers to sell 244 acres at Dorothea Dix property for $44.09 million

Also included in the article, the State mentions that all 308 acres could be sold to the City if they help find relocation space for DHHS.

 

So here's my solution/idea...  for all 308 acres of Dix, Raleigh gives NC $50 million and the 2.7 acres it owns on the block directly east of Moore Square.  NC can build their 1 million sq feet of office space for DHHS in two 15-20 floor towers with a parking garage and ground floor retail in a prime location on the park.

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This is exactly what I was thinking - the city has plenty of spots downtown that it owns that would be perfect for DHHS. We'd get more employees downtown, more density, and more business, AND get the park land that we're looking for. Win-win in my book.

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It seems like they want so much land for DHHS, too much for 2.7 acres to spark their interest. If they weren't all about partisan b*tch slapping, they would be looking at the Blue Ridge Rd. area. Of course, that study was done when Perdue was in office, so it just has to be a slap in the face to all that is good in the world. 

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I always thought Blue Ridge/Edwards Mill made a good second State Government campus. There are certain aspects of State operation that need broad space like vehicle maintenance, mail service, fair grounds and such. DHHS seems to at least want, if not actually need broad spaces for some of what they do (not sure what exactly). I'd rather reserve downtown space for big name companies and high paying jobs rather than eat-at-your desk State folks (mind you I am one of those) so that downtown maintains a cache necessary for marketing vibe, though there are plenty of good reasons to have many and varied types of folks working, living and hanging out downtown. 

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There are pro's and con's to state employees in the core of the city. Raleigh gets no property tax revenue from state buildings, and state employees on average are paid less than some private sector employees (e.g. RedHat) who are more likely to drive trickle-down in downtown. Private sector companies do more entertaining and they are also more likely to keep their facilities current and in top condition.

 

The flip side is that private sector employers come and go. When CP&L moved into One Progress Center in 1977, not many people imagined that someday the company would be taken over and its headquarters abolished. The same fate could befall RedHat or Citrix. The history of RTP is full of cutbacks and closures; that's life in the private sector.

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  • 2 months later...

This drama is getting old. I say throw in the towel and look for land in other areas of town. It would be a nice thing to have, but Raleigh doesn't have to have it. The only other options are waiting until the regressives have been voted out or some super rich person buy the entire property from the state and gift it to the city. This whole "buy the land, clean it up and then give it back to us to use for free" mess is not acceptable in any way, shape, fashion or form, not even for a single acre of the property. http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/10/02/4201062_nc-offers-to-sell-308-acre-dorothea.html?sp=/99/100/&rh=1

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IMO Raleigh should buy some vacant land or office buildings for DHHS somewhere in town so the state can't keep saying "We need 25-60 acres in the center of the future park for offices"...I can't picture the state not being ok w/ that unless there are some ulterior motives going on...

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Yea, and it's called milk the city of Raleigh for all they can. Selling this site, which has environmental contamination and will need to be remediated at Raleigh's expense, for $52 million is a big ripoff. Not to mention the ridiculous demands to lease part of the land "indefinitely" back to the state for $1 per year. This is not a good deal for the city nor the taxpayers.

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I'm not surprised one bit by the offer. Do Raleigh residents believe that the state as a whole loves Raleigh? To the contrary, a majority of the state views Raleigh (particularly Raleigh ITB) with suspicion -- if not as lifeforms from another planet. There is little political support outside Wake County, even among Democrats, to give Raleigh a sweetheart deal on the tract.

 

McCrory holds all the negotiating cards here. At best it's a 33% proposition that by 2016, Democrats will take the governor's mansion as well as both sides of the General Assembly.  

 

The money the State would derive from the sale is mice nuts relative to the State's budget. This isn't about money. 

 

Yes, the tract needs remediation if it is to be reused. But if it just continues to sit idle, no remediation is necessary. Remember, until the site for a new Convention Center was identified, the City of Raleigh didn't do squat about remediating the site (it was a Superfund site, even worse than Dix). So you can't say that Raleigh is all that environmentally conscious, either, when it comes to land that lies fallow.

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I recall reading that when the General Assembly tried to cancel the lease agreement Raleigh had set up w/ Perdue all of the Wake County reps (Democrats and Republicans) voted against cancelling the lease, (the House was the one that said "give them time to renegotiate"). According to an article I found ( http://www.thedigitalcourier.com/x145783666/NC-Senate-OKs-redoing-Dix-lease-for-park) 4 Republican Senators sided w/ the 17 Democratic Senators which actually made it so that if the House had agreed to outright cancelling the lease agreement there would not have been a veto proof majority, had McCrory actually vetoed the legislation.

 

Here's a decent article I found about it::

 

http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/03/27/2781559_state-senate-votes-to-throw-out.html?rh=1

 

From the article:

 

Tuesday’s vote count doesn’t represent a veto-proof majority. While Gov. Pat McCrory hasn’t spoken publicly about efforts to revoke the lease, in a December press conference, the incoming governor was asked his opinion on Perdue’s agreement.

“She’s the governor – that’s how I feel about it,” he said. “She has the authority to make those moves.”

 

So in theory he could have successfully vetoed this one had the House also tried to cancel the lease...which would have saved everyone all this drama....

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  • 3 months later...

Idea time:  No matter what you do in the park, I think you gotta have a trolley line along the existing rail line from Union Station to the Farmer's Market.  Downtown station at existing Amtrak station, stops in Boylan at end of W. Lenoir St, 2 stops in the park, and then end at Farmer's Market.  Single track, so just have 1 trolley that goes back and forth.  I'd even put a bike path alongside as well.

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As a part of this deal, the state is relinquishing any claim to the rail corridor by quitclaim. So any leverage they had to negotiate with Norfolk-Southern will be lost, as neither the city nor the state has the power of eminent domain over railroads.

 

The only way to make it work would be to bypass the segment of the line through Dix for freight trains. Incidentally, I do think this would be possible. The benefits go well beyond the ability to have a trail and/or shuttle train to Dix. This would allow the NS diamond near the Boylan Ave bridge to be decommissioned, speeding trains and reducing congestion. It would also would allow the westernmost track in the Wye area to be abandoned, which allows for a better platform and track layout at Union Station for high speed rail, and opens up a great deal of land in the station area for redevelpment.

 

The benefits would be big, but it is not on anybody's radar. It would also be expensive. It would certainly have to involve a cash payment to Norfolk Southern in order to buy the land and infrastructure from them and basically make it worth their while.

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Oh.  I had assumed that the rail line through Dix was already abandoned (I don't think I've ever seen a train on it).  Sounds like a lot of benefits and a better platform location for Union Station as well?!  Seems like a no-brainer... if only these railroads didn't have so much control over our downtown.

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The Norfolk Southern line serves industrial customers along the way to Fayetteville. NS will not just walk away from that line. Any of the connections proposed by Orulz would be big bucks because multiple highways must be crossed. The more likely option would be to reactivate an out-of-service NS line from Gulf (northwest of Sanford) to Fuquay-Varina, from which customers toward Fayetteville or toward Raleigh could be served. This would allow abandonment of the NS from Boylan southward to the next active freight customer. The big trestle over Western Blvd could come down, too.

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The big trestle over Western Blvd could come down, too.

 

Well if this part was abandoned by NS (huge and unlikely "if" as I've learned) then the line could be used for passenger trolley use and the bridge can remain.

 

I saw someone mention that Dix park should take hints from Governor's Island in NYC and I think this is almost a perfect example to follow!  Open spaces, natural spaces, some historic building restoration, and possibly a museum.  Keep it simple and allow the uses be determined organically by the users.

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