Transforming Dix property to park will cost $150M, city councilor says

Dorothea Dix
RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The City of Raleigh is trying to come up with millions of dollars to turn a the Dorothea Dix property into a destination park.

Big changes are in store for the Dorothea Dix property near downtown. The city wants to transform the area into a major landmark like New York’s Central Park or Chicago’s Millennium Park.

Development will cost $150 million, said city councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin. A mix of public and private money will pay for development, she said, and the park will be unique to Raleigh.

She says the city hopes to recoup some of the money. The park will attract visitors, increasing sales tax revenue.

“We have talked about this for over 10 years, so for me, seeing the agreement signed and all of a sudden we’re starting to talk about what’s next is really exciting,” said Baldwin.

The city of Raleigh bought the 300-plus acre tract of land from the state of North Carolina last year after several years of negotiations.

“We are a growing, thriving city. We have incredible opportunities to advance the city this year. We’re starting the planning process on Dorothea Dix Park,” said Raleigh mayor Nancy McFarlane in her state-of-the-city address Monday.

Baldwin says it will take two years to come up with a master plan. She says the transformation won’t be complete for another 20-60 years.

Dozens of state buildings, including some for the Department of Health and Human Services, are on the property, said Baldwin. Some have a 10 to 25-year lease, said Diane Sauer, Raleigh’s director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources. Approximately 2,100 state employees work there, Sauer said.

The property is home to Dorothea Dix Hospital, a psychiatric hospital that closed down several years ago. The area was a landfill decades ago and is in a flood plane, said Baldwin.