Dorothea Dix Park


That’s not an insurmountable hurdle. In fact, a more “permanent” amphitheater could take all of that into account with a custom design.
I appreciate that the convention center is ambitious and forward looking, but I’m also a realist here. Expanding a convention center is a huge undertaking that will undoubtedly get tied up in political red tape, have to rely on fickle funding mechanisms, and a wary citizenry that has become increasingly resistant to funding anything, no less something that most of them don’t use. And, frankly, the larger conventions that we’d need to draw, usually want to go somewhere that’s touristy, with things to do and see. Where’s Raleigh on that list? I’d almost put my life on it that it won’t be expanded for a generation. In the meantime, let’s not waste a prime piece of land in a prominent location downtown. If it’s going to be an amphitheater, let’s make a good one. It will be a lot cheaper than an expanded convention center, and it won’t block the shimmer wall.


Actually the Wake County Room Occupancy & Food and Beverage Taxes would probably pay for the majority of any new addition to the Convention Center (this brings in taxes of over 55 million this past year and growing). The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau is currently the largest stakeholder to these taxes already. I seriously doubt that that it would have all those problems you think it would. With that said, I doubt that they would build any addition to the Convention Center any time within the next decade or two.
And Greater Raleigh had 16.45 million visitors in 2017 and projected to grow to about 22 million by 2028. The North Carolina Museum of Natural Science is the number one historic attraction in North Carolina. So Raleigh does pretty good. Probably better than most people think.


I went to the web to look for data about the RCC construction funding because I thought that there was Federal or State money that was part of that package. I couldn’t find that information, and I’m frankly too lazy right now to keep digging. What I did find was article after article of railing about how the convention center is a money pit that’s propped up by tax payers (the room occupancy and food + beverage taxes you reference). In any case, most of these stories can be attributed to a conservative think tank that’s been hammering away at the convention center since before it opened. From their point of view, the taxes being raised are covering the gap in revenues vs. operating costs, and paying interest toward its construction debt. They claim that the demand for the center can only be attributed to the discounts and freebies that the center gives to corporations to entice them to choose Raleigh at our expense. Of course, this is looking at the center as some sort of stand-alone entity instead of an integral part of a more complex city strategy, so take that with a grain of salt.
In any case, I am not so certain that the RCC is swimming in the sort of money that you presume. Perhaps it is, but perhaps it isn’t.


There’s a stupid article on N&O about how they made all these positive changes to the master plan based on community feedback. Yeah no buildings or development is great. Enjoy funding this…


The thing that’s most annoying about this is that there have been many community meetings over the past few years where people provided input. I was at many of them, and I feel that the plan represents the feedback I consistently saw at this meetings. The naysayers act like they’ve never seen anything in the Master Plan before now, but none of it is new.


True, this is absolutely frustrating that people are only coming forward now, this late in the game.


…let’s be honest, though.

Quick reality check: what are the odds the naysayers really haven’t seen this before, before now?

The biggest complaint (private use/revenue-raising from the park) is something you can easily debunk and/or justify if you’ve actually been following and paying attention to master plan proceedings. It’s clear from the financial trajectory and case studies that you can’t justify the costs of a project like this unless you have carefully-planned schemes to raise additional revenue; that’s how a modern urban amenity works. Unless you fundamentally disagree with the assumptions and goals of the Dix project, I think this conclusion is inevitable and unavoidable. So the backlash to the Master Plan is not logical.

If so, isn’t it more likely that these people truly haven’t seen this plan before? That these people do not truly care?

They sound to me like casual voters or armchair warriors, in that they probably haven’t even heard of Dix Park (let alone feel any stake in improving the place). They’ve probably never heard of the master plan process until they surreptitiously saw one of the many N&O articles on it, glanced through it, saw the words “PRIVATE DEVELOPMENT!!!”, and just automatically equated that as “rich people and companies taking over OUR public space!!!”. The NIMBY-ier Neighborland comments are not thoughtful, their reasonings are spotty, and the outsized punch they (somehow?) pack give me the vibe that these opinions are painfully ill-informed.

I know you said that out of sarcasm and exasperation, @Deb, but doesn’t it make more sense for that to be true?

TL/DR: people can be dumb. amirite?


Oh yeah, people can definitely be dumb. And there certainly are more than a few of them in this controversy. Those aren’t the people I’m referring to.

The ones most outspoken against the “private development” suggestions claim they were part of the original Dix 306 push to make the property a “park.” They were the ones on Neighborland who wanted to strike all references to private development from the plan. They wrote editorials to the N&O and spoke at City Council. They were successful in getting the plan revised.

I think when the original Dix 306 folks said “park” they really meant “nature preserve.” I think they wanted to scrape the buildings off and let it be as-is. But let’s be honest, nature preserves are NOT places for everyone—or at least they aren’t places that everyone feels are for them. (Studies on diverse urban populations and use of wildlife and nature preserves are pretty bleak.)

Maybe they didn’t anticipate that the democratic process of community meetings would generate such diverse desires for amenities in the park. Now they are panicking. Maybe because it’s not looking like what they envisioned as their idea of a “park.” Or maybe they just can’t see the vision beyond what they already had in mind.

**TL/DR:**Some original Dix 306 members are strongly opposing certain park funding options. They don’t want to include amenities in the park that the community has asked for. Therefore, less amenities = less need for funding = strike all mentions of private development.


It’s funny that a lot of these folks bemoan a hotel or a restaurant in the park as being undemocratic (which they would not be but that’s a tangent for another thread) but they refuse to abide by the democratic process that helped shape the master plan. While they succeeded in getting the master plan revised, I do not believe they accomplished their goals of having the future park being a barren wasteland of fields and vacant buildings. The changes to the Master Plan do not preclude revenue generators in the park, it just no longer directly advocates for specific methods of generating that revenue. It will fall to the city council (ugh) to determine the future of the park. Without independent revenue generation that future will be murky at best. I urge everyone who desires a vibrant, diverse urban destination as the future of Dix to contact your city council members and the mayor and let them know how you feel. Attend the meeting on Feb 6 and voice your concerns. Hell I’m even going to go (or I’m planning too) and I hate meetings and have low grade social anxiety but it’s too important not to show up.


I’m not as concerned about the revisions to the master plan as I was initially. They now strike me more as a bones that have been tossed to yippy but ageing chihuahuas. Taking out specific references to revenue generation in the master plan is sort of like two parties agreeing to remain silent in a legal contract/agreement on an issue where there is initial disagreement. Essentially it’s a decision to figure out a solution when/if the issue comes up.

Phase A includes the following physical improvements: restore The creek, rehab buildings (Chapel, the 3 Stone Houses, Buffaloe, Benner) and the landscapes that surround them, create main entry with plaza and play areas at Lake Wheeler Road and Grissom Street, build multi-use path along Lake Wheeler Rd., landbridge to Pullen Park.

Nothing in there about generating revenue. Isn’t Phase A alone supposed to take 10+ years to complete? Let’s be honest: a lot of the complainers aren’t going to be here in 10 years. And I say that as someone who is no spring chicken. I’m more of an early fall chicken.

City council is going to be different in 10 years and I suspect DTR is going to be a lot denser in 10 years. In the meantime let’s watch how the neighboring areas develop (Fuller Heights, S. Saunders project) to get an idea of the future direction of Dix and whether it will lean more nature preserve or vibrant, activated, diverse park.


I have a decent case of social anxiety, too. If this meeting is anything like the others I’ve been to for Dix, it should be pretty easy to be anonymous in the crowd while still being able to provide input.

@Brian I agree completely. I hope that people who are in support of the park can make more noise than the noisy naysayers. We all know how a loud minority can impact City Council’s decisions.


What if there were a representative (not it) that collects feedback from this forum and presents to these meetings. I don’t think the voice of those who have social anxiety or introverted or whatever condition that may prevent them from being able to participate should mute their voice. I love the feedback and opinions that come from this forum (Thanks @dtraleigh!) and it seems a travesty to not have those valuable opinions heard. Just a thought.


@danparham is involved in the advisory board for Dix park and has been vocal here. Dan, are you guys using this forum as a means of public input?


@evan.j.bost Good question. No, we did not include comments posted on DTR. The official public forum for the Master Plan is Neighborland - Public comments are now closed as we finish the final draft of the Plan.

  • If anyone has any feedback for the City at this point, I would encourage you to come to the Feb 6th meeting, or email

  • Now that the Master Planning Advisory Group has officially endorsed the plan, it has served its role for the project. A new governance structure will be created for future phases of work.

  • Note that there will be many ways for residents to participate in the planning and design phases of the park over the next few years. The best way to keep informed is to subscribe or follow communications from Raleigh Parks and the Dix Park Conservancy.

Let me know if you have any questions, and thank you to everyone from the DTR community that did participate on Neighborland!



Question, since so many others have discussed or brought up this issue, “funds”?
Is there anywhere in any document or discussion board etc. that has actually given feedback or real thought to how Dix Park will or should financed?


@DowntownRaleighGuy Great question … Yes, see the “Implementation” section of the plan (p. 212). Once the Master Plan is approved, the City can go out and collect design, engineering, and construction bids for each design element. For example, in Phase A we would like to restore Rocky Branch Creek. The City will write a RFP for that project, and then receive design, engineering, construction, and maintenance estimates for the Creek. There’s a wide range of quality that the restoration of the Creek could be executed at, and so that’s why there are no numbers in the Master Plan.

The funding for each element in the Master Plan will be approved by the City Council, and could be financed through any of the tools in the Implementation section: philanthropic donation, sponsorships, state or federal grants, municipal bonds, tax credits, value capture, etc.

For each of these projects, there will be a public engagement process where residents will be able to weigh in.

Does that answer your question?


Last Saturday the family and I participated in a master plan visioning tour at Dix that consisted of about a 2.5 hour guided walk around the park that provided an overview of how the park as it exists today would be transformed through the changes proposed in the master plan.

My understanding is that there will be more such tours available in the coming months. If you have the chance to do this I highly recommend it.

My takeaways:

300 acres is very big. I have a much better appreciation for the size and scale of the park after having walked it. It’s difficult to grasp what 300 acres means without tromping around the whole thing - and I’m not even sure we covered it all. Put simply: the park is huge.

Estimated annual maintenance budget for just the grounds - no buildings - is $8 - $10M/year.

The 8 acres proposed for public/private partnership leases feels like a very small part of the park and is located in what is currently a less-visited corner along Lake Wheeler Rd. Our guide (can not remember her name!) told us that revenues from potential public/private “park-supportive” land uses could potentially cover the $8-$10M annual grounds maintenance budget.

The cemetery needs a more dignified treatment. It was estimated that 900 some people are buried there but many of the graves are unmarked. My guess is that many families either could not afford headstones, or chose not to afford headstones for the people who died at Dix. It’s likely that the current cemetery boundaries are not accurate. Sounded like an additional radar study was planned to locate all graves. The lives represented by all the graves deserve a respectful treatment.

Most of the buildings in the park look like a mish-mash of architectural styles reflective of the fact that the needs of the hospital changed over its 150+ year life span.

Our guide pointed out which buildings were slated to stay and which would go. Just from a visual/architectural significance perspective I agreed with most every decision on what should go and what should stay. My one reservation was over the many, small brick cottages. Most of these would go. But in a city short on affordable housing could these small houses be moved or re-used elsewhere instead of just being demolished?

DHHS has a lease that runs through 2025. The projects proposed for Phase A would allow work to begin well before 2025 without unduly impacting DHHS operations until their lease runs out.

There was no cost for the tour. Just needed to register. Don’t quote me, but I think the next visioning tours will be sometime in March/April. Again, highly recommended.

Editing to add that I forgot to mention our guide said there’s a “small, medium, large” slate of options for dealing with the railroad through the park. This was the first I’d heard of this. Small would be for NS to allow additional crossings over the track in the park. Medium is some sort of rail/trail. Large is complete donation/abandonment of the right of way through the park. This was all prefaced with the usual - “rail roads are notoriously difficult to deal with.”


I wish I knew you were on the tour. My wife and I were there as well. We both really appreciated the info and exposure to the master plan.


Where would those houses go, and is it worth the cost? (One estimate puts it at $150k per house to just move a big house a few miles, and that number probably doesn’t take into account how much it’ll cost to bring a historic resource up to code while keeping it affordable)


I was thinking the same about those houses. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re filled with asbestos, which would require costly remediation.


Did you guys bring the donuts?