Kudos to Frank Harmon for his May 3 Point of View “Building smarter” targeting the lackluster design elements of the building boom in downtown Raleigh.
With the city of Raleigh under contract to purchase the Dorothea Dix property for $52 million, albeit with no money in hand, now is a good time to bring Harmon’s vision to reality.
As part of any bond offering to finance the purchase of the Dix property, residents should demand that the city be allowed to negotiate long-term land leases with private developers to build multi-family housing along the perimeter of the park. The long-term lease rates would help defray some of the initial costs that are to be shouldered by taxpayers.
More important, this plan would give the city precise control of the scale and design aspects of future development along the park’s perimeter. The city would essentially have a clean palette to design the view one has looking out from within the park.
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This approach would replicate the urban livability successes of San Diego and Hammarby, Sweden, cited by Harmon.
With the current plan, or lack thereof, I see private developers assembling property across the street from the park and building structures with little regard for any of the city’s wishes – structures that Harmon bemoaned in his POV.