Raleigh makes a fair bid on the Dorothea Dix property

April 3, 2014 

Raleigh’s formal offer to the state for the Dorothea Dix hospital property near downtown is fair and deserves serious consideration. And the city is making a huge compromise, given that its offer of $38 million is slightly above the appraised value of the 308-acre property.

That is, the state could lease 40 acres including some buildings for $1 a year for 15 years and would be responsible for environmental cleanup (groundwater contamination, mercury vapor in one building, asbestos), which is only fair. The Department of Health and Human Services would thus be able to have office space.

The city of Raleigh would get to design and the residents of the city and from all over North Carolina would enjoy a Central Park-like area close to the city’s core.

While the state has an appraisal of $66 million, the Raleigh offer comes with that virtually free office space. And, what lawmakers need to remember is that a Capital City park is a North Carolina park, given the high rate of visitors to Raleigh in order to see state museums.

Give Gov. Pat McCrory credit for stopping what would have been a terrible mistake, namely the killing of the deal by legislative Republicans. A long-term deal was made for the property under the administration of former Gov. Beverly Perdue, but GOP legislative leaders had fought with Perdue on a number of contentious measures and were determined to prevent her from taking credit for a popular park deal. So they nixed it.

Now, McCrory can step up again by encouraging the General Assembly run by his party to endorse a new deal.

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane did some good work here in orchestrating the park deal and staying with it. Raleigh’s offer represents an important step forward to get moving. The Dix land really provides a spectacular view of the Raleigh skyline and outdoor opportunities galore.

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