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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know we talked about this project some time ago, but given its significance, this is time to bring this topic back. What is the direction Dorothea Dix Campus (henceforth DDC) should head to? Let's start with an article from today's News & Observer:

Most think idea of park taking root
By RICHARD STRADLING, Staff Writer

WHAT'S NEXT?
JULY 19: LandDesign will present a draft redevelopment plan starting at 6 p.m. at the Raleigh Convention and Conference Center downtown.

SEPT. 1: Final redevelopment plan due to the State Property Office and the city.

FALL: The Dorothea Dix Property Study Commission will review the plan and make recommendations to the full General Assembly in 2006.


Given a choice of three possible futures for the Dorothea Dix Hospital campus, a wide majority at a public meeting Wednesday night chose one: a large public park.

The park proposed by LandDesign, the Charlotte-based firm crafting a campus redevelopment plan, would include athletic fields, community gardens, an amphitheater overlooking the Raleigh skyline and places for civic activities, such as a school, museums or a senior center. It also would make room for a Wake County psychiatric hospital and other mental health services.

"It covers everything I want to see," said Kilmeny Stephens of Raleigh, who works for a transportation engineering firm. "I think this is a good balance of catering to the mental health community and the open space."

The meeting at the Raleigh convention center drew about 150 people who wanted to help plan the future of Dix after the hospital closes in 2007. The city and state hired LandDesign to recommend future uses for the campus based in part on public opinion.

LandDesign planners also proposed a state office campus and a pedestrian-friendly mix of homes and offices. All three options left at least half of the 300-acre campus undeveloped and provided space for local mental health programs.

But the proposal called "Central Park" was the clear winner.

Gregor Spinney, a network analyst for IBM, said he and his wife occasionally drive on the Dix campus.

"This place is beautiful," he said. "My objective is to try to preserve as much of it as it is."

LandDesign divided the crowd into small groups and asked each one to pick the scenario it liked best. Most fiddled with the park concept, adding features such as a dog run, a sculpture garden and small eateries.

Some people lobbied for favorite projects and ideas. Several parents of Raleigh Charter High School students made a case for moving the school from downtown to Dix at some point in the future.

Debra King, executive director of CASA, a nonprofit housing group, moved from table to table, urging people to support building transitional housing for people with mental illness around the proposed county psychiatric hospital.

"The idea is that if they want to go check in with somebody, they could," King said.

LandDesign planners said they would take what they heard Wednesday and use it to make a recommendation at another public meeting in July. Brad Davis, the lead planner on the Dix project, said the firm may propose three alternatives and identify one of them as its top choice.

Davis said LandDesign based its three scenarios on comments from interest groups and from a public meeting last month, as well as hundreds of letters and e-mail messages.

Several people Wednesday said they did not want to see the campus privately developed with condos or offices and questioned why LandDesign included housing in two of its proposals. The housing and office option, which LandDesign called "city in the park," called for about 1,000 homes.

Davis replied that the firm was still in the ideas stage and wanted to provide clear alternatives. "We're talking concepts here," he said.

Staff writer Richard Stradling can be reached at 829-4739 or [email protected]


Now that we know the latest developments, let's examine how the supporters of the park idea view the future (images are taken from the Friends of Dorothea Dix web site:

Current view (not the whole green area is DDC):


Future (with park):


Future (without park):


Now, ANYONE familiar with the landscape will immediately recognize the problems and the motives behind this group's representatives. Manipulation and deception is what has taken over, instead of common sense. Some people want things their way, or no way at all. Before I offer my views (again), let me explain the problem with NIMBY groups in Raleigh, as it applies on DDC. Looking at the images above we can recognize immediately one big error: Boylan Heights. For those unfamiliar with this area, it is located directly above the center - look at the first image; it is covered by many trees and it is hard to recognize it as a residential area. In the future projections, that neighborhood has been replaced by what I see as an ultra dense development, and ALL the trees are gone. Not only this is impossible - Boylan Heights is a historic neighborhood - but no developer would ever think of touching the entire district, even if they owned a big chunk of it.

Second error: the central prison "campus", spotted easily in the second photo, where the cluster of high-rises appear. In the first image, it can be seen to the left of Boylan Heights. Who the Hell came up with this idea? DT Raleigh shows no growth whatsoever, while the prison has been replaced by a completely new - and very impressive, indeed - downtown district. Not only the nearby NIMBYs would NEVER allow this, but there are no plans that I am aware of to tear down the prison. Even if the latter happens, nothing of significant height would go there.

Third error: Between the main campus and Western Blvd - the road that separates DDC from Boylan Heights - there is sharp decline, which makes it nearly impossible to develop anything on it. Sure, there is always a chance something may get built at the top of the hill, but it has to be small. A restaurant with a view of the skyline, or even a series of single family homes/low-rises would make sense, but nothing to significantly alter the existing landscape.

So, what is my view? If things were up to me I would combine all the ideas and come up with a plan the preserves 33%-50% of the open space, inside which I would incorporate a botanical garden, a dog park and athletic fields; 100-150 acres should be more than enough for this. I would certainly create an urban center where the existing building cluster is, including a main street filled with shops and a few touristy destinations (e.g. aquarium, small museums). Most definitely, I would include mid-rises, low-rises, townhomes and single houses, all in moderation. Depending on the landscape and land availability, I would create squares/plazas (Savannah-style) where people could comfortably stroll, or even host events. Such squares would be easier to patrol and keep safe than a huge park; remember, there is a prison nearby. In terms of preservation, I would maintain any historic structures and as many of the existing huge trees as possible. Given Pullen Park's proximity, I would hate to see a 300+ acres of park space dominating that area. For a city the size of Raleigh, I would favor the creation of smaller parks scattered all over the city, as opposed to one big park, surrounded by sprawl and low density developments. Needless to say, whatever goes in the urban side od DDC, has to be affordable. If not, at least we need a good mix of housing for all incomes.

I know that we talked about it before, but has your views changed at all?
 

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Here are my thoughts on the Dix meeting yesterday. This is a repost of something I did on another forum. I hope this is not a violation of the SSC rules. Here goes:

I haven't been to many of these public work sessions before, but I went to this one and left feeling rather underwhelmed with the outcome on the whole.

Many people came to the meeting looking to pick a fight over anything that didn't leave the "big field" as is, and there were large delegations from the Raleigh Charter School and the Triangle Youth Philharmonic. I agree that the Charter School would be an excellent use for the Dix land; however, I don't necessarily agree with the tactic of throwing lots of people at the public meeting (they had representatives at nearly every table) in order to create the illusion that public opinion is really so slanted in their favor.

I felt there were some great ideas, but the vast majority of the people there suggested something that would leave it almost exactly like it is. There was a common sentiment that making even one tiny parcel of the Dix property available to private development (particularly residential development) is a travesty. This is a very predictable reaction and seems to be closely related to knee-jerk nimbyism. I'm sorry, but the present configuration of Dix is hardly effective for any type of use.

People kept coming back to the idea of Central Park, and the analogy to New York City was drawn many times. I believe that such a concept would never work in Raleigh, and is not something that we need anyhow. I say: if you need acres of undeveloped land? Head to Umstead. Sure, some segments of Dix are absolutely worth preservation, but Dix is far from pristine in the first place, and too valuable to the city to be simply dedicated as a giant "big field."

One concept that I did find attractive was the idea of demolishing the old hospital building. It's old, laced with asbestos, and has been expanded with countless additions, each of a different architectural style, giving it a haphazard appearance and a confusing layout. The building is not well suited to adaptive reuse, nor is there anything particularly historically significant about it. Many of the surrounding, smaller buildings could be reused for office space but the majority of the activity on the Dix campus should be pushed towards the edge of the parcel , along Lake Wheeler Rd.

Personally, would love to see mixed use (private!!) development along Lake Wheeler Rd. The Dix campus should not just be a destination park that people visit on the weekends, it should be a place used daily by people who live there, work there, or play there. Unfortunately, the word "private" was almost a swear word among the crowd at the meeting last night.

This gives me the impression that:
1) Some people don't 'get' how public interests can be served by appropriate, well-executed, and well-managed private development
2) Some people don't understand the process for involving private developers in projects like this.

I get the feeling that these people expected a Super Wal-Mart and McMansions on the property if the private sector were involved at all. This couldn't be further from the case. The land would not be sold haphazardly to the highest bidder. Instead, it would probably be leased, and the state would issue a RFP in which developers submit their ideas for the property and the best plan among them is selected in a process similar to the redevelopment of Blount St.


In defense of the public's hostility, however, I don't think that LandDesign did a particularly good job coming up with the three alternatives. They basically covered all the extremes, leaving it up to the public to interpolate between them and find a compromise.The "mixed use" alternative called for private development of a lot of the prime land, but the "central park" concept left way too much area underutilized. Perhaps that left people with the notion that it was an all-or-nothing deal on the park. None of the presented alternatives attempted to strike any sort of a balance and as a result they were uniformly unappealing. I found it very difficult to visualise what the property might actually look like in the end.

I hope the consultants can come up with something more meaningful during the next step of the process.
 

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Ooh, another comment. My favorite quotation from the work session, made by the representative from LandDesign, when describing the land uses around the Dix campus:

"Central Prison, that isn't going anywhere. ...But it should."

This was followed by applause from the audience. While having a phsychiatric facility close to downtown is of debatable merit, there's not many people who would argue the merits of having a maximum security prison located there. According to the LandDesign guy, twenty or thirty years from now (maybe when the current buildings at central prison need major expansion or overhaul?) it should instead be demolished and moved elsewhere. That would leaving the property open for reuse as a residential neighborhood.
 

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Seems like it is always the same story: people fighting to keep things just as they are. It is unrealistic for people to expect such a large peice of available land to remain untouched. I think that preserving some of the green space would make for an attractive park area, but do not see where Raleigh would need a park that large in the center-city. As far as specific uses, I'm not sure. But there is quite a bit of land to work with, to come up with a really well-planned area.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
@orulz: If anyone ever put it right, it is definitely you :eek:kay: You have my outmost respect and admiration. Not only you are right on the money, but you also phrased it in such a way that it would be hard for any NIMBY to defend his/her position. I am truly grateful that you took the time to attend the meeting and posted an update here. I agree with everything you said. And YES, that prison is an eyesore for Boylan Heights and the surrounding neighborhoods. I wish the state had a way to relocate it and make the land available to developers who can create a truly nice urban neighborhood.

@astro: It is all about fighting progress when it comes to Raleigh's NIMBYs. It is either their way, or no way at all. Most of these people make a career out of complaining and killing Raleigh's chances. At least, there are people who understand what "balance" means and try to bring common sense back into the whole process of land development. On a happier tone, and because this is state property, people from other NC cities and towns have the right to voice their opinion. Feel free to write to the city council, your senator and the governor, expressing your views... After all, it is your business, too. If the state decides to turn this property into a park, expect to pay an additional $30 million to turn it into a botanical garden (plus maintenance). If any money comes back, it will be to Raleigh's pockets, not your city's. Selling the land to the private sector will at least help the state cover some of its debt, or even finance projects in other parts of the state. Of course, we still should demand that the private sector respects DDC and its history. Orulz's comment on developing along Lake Wheeler Rd is also important.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
What can we do to stop the madness from dictating our city's future? Well, for starters, we can write emails/letters to the people who need to know about the way we feel. Unlike many other people, I feel optimistic and don't give up until the fight is over. I have already done my duty once (concerning DDC), but I am planning to do some more during the weekend. If you guys feel like taking some action, please send an email to all the people involved in the decision-making. Below, I provide a list with those individuals, and their email addresses:

RALEIGH CITY COUNCIL:


GOVERNOR MIKE EASLEY:
The Honorable Mike Easley
Office of the Governor
20301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699
919-733-4240 or 1-800-662-7952

Also, you may send a message to the governor via this link:
http://www.governor.state.nc.us/email.asp?to=1

In addition to the above individuals, it would be a great idea to contact the firm that will play significant role in the planning:

LANDDESIGN:
Bradley W. Davis
[email protected]
Phone: 704-333-0325​
 

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I have always kept one thing in mind about this Dix issue, and that is>>> The city wants money. I too was at the meeting tuesday and just wanted to tell some of the idiots there to sit down, and shut up. They were so vocal about the park, that they were interupting the individuals with the LandDesign team and what not. They can be as vocal as they want to be, but still it was just 150 people. (Curse those Nimby's) and when it comes down to it, the city of Raleigh is going to pick the option, or combination of options which is gonna put some money back in their pockets.

After all, many objected, and are still objecting about the fayetteville street mall project, and the new convention center. But as anyone can tell both of those passed anyway. And I'm glad they did.

Something tells me the city may go with a park but still throw a great deal of mixed use housing/private office/state office/ & mental health campus/and enlarge the state farmers market.

After all. What city worth it's weight is gonna let that much land go to use, and not get paid at the same time. The "Nimby's" have held the city back far to long. We have a long way to go to catch up to where we should be, but finally the city is taking some giant steps in the right direction.

"Don't be afraid to dream; And while you're at it, dream big."
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
If the city goes with a huge park, they deserve to be kicked in the butt. To make this deal sweat, private sector needs to be allowed to build, period. The state may have DDC up for sale, but who is going to pay for a huge park, plus maintenance expenses for the rest of its life? Seriously, the people who scream for a park shoul actually use their own money to purchase DDC. Only someone with deep pockets can make this deal worthwhile. My guess is that state and local authorities will cater to both NIMBYs and developers, with a land use of 50-50; that is, 50% will be devoted to open space and park, while the rest will be available for urban development. All we need to do is push the decision-makers to the right direction, and what is better than a civilized email?
 

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Raleigh-NC said:
My guess is that state and local authorities will cater to both NIMBYs and developers, with a land use of 50-50; that is, 50%
50% sounds nice, but I think the actual form of the land should determine the uses rather than simply deciding that splitting it 50-50 is fair. Looking at the "city in a park" plan drawn up by LandDesign, developing 50% of the land looked like too much. 50% might work with a better layout, but the way they drew it up, the open space was too fragmented and poorly located to do anything meaningful with. Remember that no matter what happens, a large chunk of the land is a floodplain, and another large chunk is on top of a dump. Those are counted as open space, but will have to stay exactly as they are. If you want something like a conservatory or a botanical garden to work, you need a good deal of contiguous space in a very prime location.

I believe that any commercial, residential, OR civic development should occur in the area of the campus closest to Lake Wheeler Rd. The campus-style layout with higher density towards the center of the property should be abandoned where practical, non-compliant buildings razed, and a more urban form adopted with several new connections to the outside world for improved accessibility. I don't think skyscrapers or even 10 story mid-rises would work here, but I can see the Lake Wheeler corridor densifying and filling out with 3-5 story mixed use structures.
 

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A month or so ago, I found a nice little map on the N&O's website detailing the property and the areas around it. I've done something similar with a terraserver map. Its on the small size, but I didn't want to post too huge of an image up here.


Existing things highlighted in the map.
The Dix property is bound by a black line. Rails are colored orange. The light blue indicates the new convention center and the Fayetteville Street Renaissance. Pullen Park is the green area to the north west of the dix property. The land from the South East edge of the Pullen Park property to the rail road is for the Gov. Morehead School and Central Prison respectively. Centennial Campus is to the left of the image.

Vision
In my opinion, one major benefit of developing this land should be to "connect" centennial campus and downtown. I envision the "grid" (the yellow painted grid) in the region of the old hospital building. I see this area as an urban village (I'm thinking Southern Village here) mixed use area with ground floor retail, some offices, but primarily residential. The highest density would be along Lake Wheeler Rd and some possible ~6 story buildings overlooking "the hill". This area would be self contained, schools, grocery store etc. . . In addition it is within walking distance of the state farmers market AND DT Raleigh. Gradually over a 20-30 year period, I'd hope that density crosses over Lake Wheeler and truly forms an urban corridor between S. Saunders and Lake Wheeler. Just a note on my "grid": the yellow basically means building a new road there or modifying the existing street. The grid is basically non existent at this point. I'd want to upgrade lake wheeler and make it a larger thoruogh fare, as well as "connecting" South and Cabarrus streets. I'm aware that both would connect through Boylan Heights, so the Cabarrus connector would be a "neighborhood road", but South street might become an important thoroughfare.

The purple region shall be "reserved" until Raleigh needs a facility for sports or entertainment. This is where we should have built the RBC center: there is rail AND major road access. If we ever have another opportunity, such a structure should go here.

The red region I've earmarked as a spur to the TTA. We have a self sufficient urban village and mass transit to other areas of town. People living in this village wouldn't really need a car. Finally I've unintentionally created a "central park" but this was a result of staying out of the flood plain, and the fact that I love the view from that hill (Imagine the view from a 6 story condo at the top of the hill!) It'd be interesting if the "river walk" that was floated could be done here. I'd also make a ped bridge over western to pullen and essentially make this a pullen park annex. Although I'd love a connection to downtown this way, you'd have to go over the gov morehead school, central prison, or boylan heights, which isn't going to happen.

This plan puts in a sizeable developed area (approximately 12 city blocks), essentially extends downtown to centennial campus and gives the souuthside great momentum.

Please feel free to add ideas and make criticisms!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Correct observation, orulz :eek:kay: Maybe I should change my prediction to 50-50 in terms of satisfying NIMBYs and the those who want to see a more urban environment, not in terms of actual acres. In other words, the decision makers should play fair and cater to both sides. However, the economics is what will - and should - determine the future of DDC, after taking into account any environmental constrains (e.g. floodzone). If the state has decided to sell the land, it won't get much for a park. On the other hand, the city stands to gain a lot if the maximum DDC portion available for redevelopment actually gets some urban projects. Lake Wheeler Rd is a great venue, but I would not limit the development there to 5 stories; Even a few 10-story buildings would make sense; extraordinary views of downtown would be a great selling point. Naturally, DDC will become almost a downtown neighborhood after it gets developed. The proximity to the core will be, without a doubt, the driving force behind denser, more urban developments in that area.

By the way, great map, romec!!!
 

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romec said:
Just a note on my "grid": the yellow basically means building a new road there or modifying the existing street. The grid is basically non existent at this point. I'd want to upgrade lake wheeler and make it a larger thoruogh fare
That's already on the books. CAMPO / the City of Raleigh has it scheduled for four-laning sometime in the not too distant future.

romec said:
as well as "connecting" South and Cabarrus streets. I'm aware that both would connect through Boylan Heights, so the Cabarrus connector would be a "neighborhood road", but South street might become an important thoroughfare.
While the idea of a connector from Cabarrus sounds nice, and it might happen if the entrance to central prison were realigned, I doubt they'd allow any such connector to impede the flow of traffic on Western Blvd. Even though there's already a stoplight at the prison, the extra traffic coming from Cabarrus would mean more frequent, longer red lights on Western. They're trying to turn Western into an expressway, so a new stoplight at South St would not be welcome either. An over/underpass at Cabarrus is not physically possible due to the geometry of the railroad tracks, and building one for South St would just tear up too much of Boylan Heights, so it's not likely to happen.

romec said:
I'd also make a ped bridge over western to pullen and essentially make this a pullen park annex. Although I'd love a connection to downtown this way, you'd have to go over the gov morehead school, central prison, or boylan heights, which isn't going to happen.
The city actually has several connections on the books in their comprehensive plan for linking Dix/Centennial with downtown. First is a connection from Glenwood to South Saunders on a long bridge over the railroad wye; second is a link from Morgan St to Western Blvd between the Morehead School and Central Prison and on through Dix; third is a road connecting Pullen Dr to Centennial's Main Campus Dr between the Diocese and the old Cardinal Gibbons campus. Here is the map from the comprehensive plan:

I know CAMPO wants to build a new overpass and full interchange at Western/Pullen, and then who really cares about impacts to central prison? The biggest question mark is the Glenwood-S. Saunders since that'll take up a good chunk of land in the wye area that could otherwise be used for development and construction of the multimodal station.

romec said:
The purple region shall be "reserved" until Raleigh needs a facility for sports or entertainment. This is where we should have built the RBC center: there is rail AND major road access. If we ever have another opportunity, such a structure should go here.
Great idea! There's not too many other places near downtown where this could happen. Another one that comes to mind is the big factory to the west of Wilmington, but since that's still a very active industry, redevelopment is not likely any time soon.

romec said:
The red region I've earmarked as a spur to the TTA. We have a self sufficient urban village and mass transit to other areas of town. People living in this village wouldn't really need a car.
Glad you pointed that out. Some people at the meeting last week seemed to want to make this railroad go away but that's so unbelievably lacking in foresight that my head almost exploded. You are right, This could be a stop on an eventual Raleigh-Fayetteville transit line. The first phase built would likely involve the segment from Fuquay-Varina to Raleigh. At present, it's a lightly used freight line owned by Norfolk Southern, and if it were used for passenger service it wouldn't have the same 15 minute peak headways of the TTA main line, but it would be a solid connection to downtown nevertheless.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Great input :eek:kay: You guys keep posting your thoughts, I am really impressed with your ideas and views. The SW end of downtown carries such huge potential that I am amazed how low the NIMBYs have sunken in order to prevent progress. It also amazes me that the same individuals don't want to see other people around them... almost as if they are the only ones to have the right/privilege to live inside and around downtown. There are so many ways to improve that area, without "ruinning" the lives of the existing residents, yet the latter are fighting hard to allow growth. Naturally, we talk about responsible growth, with respect to the existing neighborhoods and environment.

On a personal note, I would love to see that prison removed from there. It is an eyesore, at best, even though it does something to keep real estate prices low ;)
 

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Thank you!

BTW Orulz, its awesome to see that the city has at least planned some more connections, because they are desperately needed.

I put the Cabarrus connector in as a bit of an afterthought, I knew that would be a tough sell to Boylan Heights. The Morgan St and Glenwood connectors, however would be awesome. I'd really like to see the Glenwood connection materialize (despite the lost lots) because the road system really breaks up in that part of town. I just hope that the city doesn't mess up this opportunity with the DDC.
I think I might make my idea a little more detailed and professional and send it to the council/land designs.

Along that note, if anyone wants to make recommendations/changes to my map, feel free to do so! It'd be kinda of cool if we brainstormed ideas/ a site plan and all emailed/contacted the council/land designs.
 
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