City Plans to Reconvert Dorothea Dix Campus to Urban Park

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor Gov. Beverly Perdue intends to reconvert the site of the former Dorothea Dix psychiatric hospital into a public park. The state Department of Administration will then need to find a solution to move the 1,300 state [...]

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

Gov. Beverly Perdue intends to reconvert the site of the former Dorothea Dix psychiatric hospital into a public park. The state Department of Administration will then need to find a solution to move the 1,300 state employees on the Dix campus to other offices.

As reported by News-Observer, the 150-year-old Dix state psychiatric hospital has been scheduled to close. The state opened a new psychiatric facility in Butner, as part of a reform effort to improve North Carolina’s system of psychiatric hospitals.

The land is situated downtown and its current market value is $60 million, according to real estate appraiser Worthy & Wachtel, who finalized the study in May 2011. Nevertheless, the findings of last year’s appraisal are being contested. Former Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker believes the study reflects outdated figures since it does not take into account transactions that occurred after the real estate collapse. Sen. Neal Hunt, a Raleigh Republican, also favors the idea of a new appraisal, which might pave the way to a quicker resolution for the reconversion of the site.

In regional news, Caterpillar announced it would not build a new plant in Brunswick County, despite the economic incentives package state officials proposed. Instead, Caterpillar chose a site near Athens, Ga., where it intends to develop a $200 million plant and employ 1,400 workers.

Sen. Bill Rabon, a Republican who represents Brunswick County, said the area’s proximity to the major ports of Savannah and Charleston influenced the company’s decision. It is not the first time North Carolina’s coastal infrastructure limits its ability to attract new industry. According to News-Observer, a Continental Tire facility also considered port issues when locating in South Carolina to build a $500 million facility and employ 1,500 people.