Mission Statement
The purpose of the Friends of Dorothea Dix Park is to promote the establishment and support of a "World Class Destination Park" in North Carolina's Capital City on the Dorothea Dix campus, saving the existing open space and preserving the historically significant buildings.

 Frequently Asked Questions

How can the City of Raleigh Justify a TIF
by Greg Hummel 

A TIF stands for Tax Increment Financing.  The way this works is before a development project begins the stakeholders first develop a long range 30 year development and land use master plan that will benefit the district.  Just before the redevelopment begins the current property tax revenue is documented. Then, as the property values rise because they benefit from the development project, the additional tax revenue is earmarked as the "tax increment", and is the money used to fund the project.  The City and County continue to get the same tax revenue, only the increase goes to the tax increment.  In North Carolina the TIF can last up to 30 years.  After that all the taxes go to the taxing authority.

The first point we stress is the need for most of the tax increment to be devoted to public purposes.  Since Raleigh does not have a TIF policy, an appropriately sized and defined TIF area and Redevelopment Plan should be developed in tandem with a TIF best practices and guidelines policy.

If there is ever an opportunity to get TIF done correctly in the first instance for Raleigh and Wake, it is in connection with the development of a great urban park.  

The real challenge in all of this is that there are many stakeholders with differing visions and all too many needs. That's where a thoroughly thought through TIF policy and guidelines and also a carefully drawn TIF district and redevelopment plan and plan of finance becomes critical. At the end of the day, there will be need to be compromise on a wide range of issues. No one entity or neighborhood is going to have all of its needs, much less wants, satisfied. But, that said, the power of a well crafted TIF plan (in all of its elements, to wit, zoning, land uses, site planning, financing streams both TIF and otherwise. etc.) can play such a helpful role. This is so in particular because TIF districts take the long view and provide time for phasing and various needs to be met over a period of time long enough to achieve manifold results.

Chicago's Millennium Park is such an example. The last year of tax increment in the Central Loop TIF will throw off more than $100M in tax increment. This is after the first $100M was used for Millenium Park. The original budget of that TIF was over $500M. So, too, with Forest Park.

A less well known example may be Bryant Park behind New York's Central Library. There the original funding stream was a business improvement district and the tax was additive as opposed to recycled tax increment. Nonetheless that special tax was public in character. It provided around 90% of the revenue stream for the activities undertaken to bring back Bryant Park from what was its derelict status. Today, the public revenue stream supporting Bryant Park is only 10% of the revenue stream and the other 90 % is coming from a range of sources largely outside of the public revenue taxing stream. 

The point I am making is that TIF's in combination with special districts and a welter of other financing and grant making techniques can create the context for multiple stakeholders to achieve some reasonable degree of satisfaction re the needs and desires they may have.

Back to Top

Acreage Information

  • Acreage was determined by overlaying various plans and a Google hybrid basemap in GIS software to arrive at approximate acreages.
Property Segment Approximate Acres
Existing Regions  
Current Dix Campus Acreage 306
Healing Place 5
Farmers' Market 50
Great Field 50
Historic Core 74
Floodplain, hillsides, landfill & grove 95
Spring Hill (NCSU) 145
ULI Development Plan Regions  
Development regions  
     Town Houses 136
     Single Family Homes 38
     Office & Retail 84
               Total Developed Land 258
Town greens surrounded by developed land 23
ULI Park Region 210
ULI Park Region within the existing 306 acre Dix campus 154
Field given to NCSU for part of Spring Hill 54
Spring Hill property received for Great Field 47
Park Plan by John Hoal for Friends of Dorothea Dix Park  
Total park size 354
    includes part of the Farmers' Market 30
Outparcel (Dix land not in park plan) 17

Back to Top

What about the 17 acre outparcel?

A careful study of our plans shows that on the northeastern edge there is a 17 acre piece of the 306 acres that sticks out of the park plan.  This is a piece that can be swapped for a piece of property that would be more valuable to the park.  After the whole property is designated as a park district, the final use of this piece will be determined by the park master planning process in an open process with citizen participation.  

Back to Top

What is a "World Class Destination Park"?

It takes about 100 years to develop a true "Destination Park".  Location is probably the most important thing and that is why Dix Park is so important because it is right downtown, only six blocks from the new convention center.

To become a "Destination Park" is to present an opportunity to the community.  Opportunity for the Smithsonian to provide material for a satellite museum or maybe a Southern Folk History museum, or the Art Museum to place major sculptures on the property, or a collection in a building.  Opportunity for NCSU to have outreach programs like their "American Homes", or to develop cultural performing venues with wider community participation. Opportunity to use the Great Field for great events.  Opportunity for the Agricultural Department to showcase a demonstration project along side the retail Farmers' market. Opportunity...

Back to Top

Why won't the 200 acre park in the ULI Development Plan be enough for the "Destination Park"?

About 1/3 of park land in any urban park is used up in roads, parking, and maintenance areas, this reduces the "useful" property of the 200 acre Dix Park to about 140 acres.  The ULI development cuts the park property off from a green space connection to the Centennial Campus wetlands that connect to both Lake Raleigh and Walnut Creek.  By turning the Historic Core into a densely developed office park it eliminates the opportunity for museums and other attractions to locate in the the Historic Core preventing this unique area from becoming part of the attraction to the site.  Great parks require about 400 acres, and without the whole property and the connections to other green space the park won't have the critical mass.  Also, there is very little developable land to take advantage of opportunities that may arise.  Most of the land is hillsides and floodplains that are fine for a passive park that would serve local residents, but not adequate to house the attractions that make for Destination Parks.

Back to Top

Is it reasonable to compare Dix Park to Central Park in NYC?

Yes, when central park was proposed the population of NYC was about the same then as Raleigh is now, and Raleigh, being in the sun belt is the destination of continuing population shift in the United States. We are currently growing at a rate of about 5,000 people every six months.  Central park is twice the size of Dix Campus, so with that model in mind we need more land not less, and that additional land is represented by the connections with Centennial Campus, Walnut Creek Wetlands and Pullen Park.

When Central Park was conceived the land was surrounded by little villages of immigrants, and almost all the population of NYC was below 37th street. It is likely that those without vision thought it was a waste of effort and would never succeed. There were periods where it appeared those naysayers were correct, but the visionaries finally won out, and Central Park is one of the foremost parks in the world.

It is entirely reasonable to expect multi story housing to surround Dix Park in less than 50 years, and certainly within a 150 years the density will be determined by the popularity of the downtown urban core. A density similar to the current NYC housing surrounding Central Park is not unreasonable if we create open space and urban parks so that the quality of life can keep pace with our growth.

Back to Top

How does the FDDP Park Plan pay for purchasing the land and supporting Mental Health?

The land is purchased using Tax Increment Financing (TIF) (Which does not raise anyone's taxes) the same way the ULI plan does , except the TIF district is around the park rather than in it. It is also expected that the University residential development would enter the tax rolls under the TIF.  The TIF does not increase a property's tax, but only captures the tax increase that arises from the increase in property value that would occur whether the TIF was in effect or not.  Financing could also be done with a Bond, however the liability for paying it off would fall to the county or city as a whole rather than to the tax increment on the district.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both Bonds and TIFs, but the important point is that the increase in revenue to the City and County both from increased property values resulting from the development of the park and increased sales tax revenue from additional visitors would be more than enough to pay for the land and its development.

Back to Top

Where do the approximately 3k DHHS employees go in the FDDP Park Plan?

The FDDP (Friends) plan calls for all the DHHS employees to remain in the renovated buildings on the Dix Campus and to renovate additional buildings as needed for their offices, and then to remain in those offices for as long as they need them. FDDP expects they will migrate out to better facilities in 20 to 30 years. Their offices in the park will help with the development of the park as it is building out over many years.

Back to Top

What is the FDDP plan for historic preservation?

The plan includes the preservation of the significant buildings.  Initially DHHS will occupy most of them, and then FDDP expects that appropriate projects will apply to the park authority to renovate and use additional buildings for the public benefit. As examples: arts venues, museums, and technology demonstration.  Since the park is in the front yard of NCSU, FDDP hopes that the university would choose to renovate and occupy some of the buildings for public outreach purposes.

In addition, when considering the preservation, it is important to recognize that the "National Historic Register" stated that the density of the buildings and sense of place, and the space between buildings was an important part of the historical context.  A development with additional infill would not be appropriate, but replacing non-conforming buildings with conforming ones certainly would be appropriate.

Back to Top

Does the FDDP Park Plan provide for a memorial to Dorothea Dix?

FDDP suggests a museum and a memorial, however I would hope it would be done with significant public input particularly from the mental health community.

Back to Top

How does the FDDP Park Plan connect to other communities and places?

That is an important part of the FDDP plan. Removing the fence and creating good pedestrian access to the adjacent neighborhoods as well as greenway connections in all directions.  A bridge to Pullen Park with the cooperation of the adjacent Catholic Diocese property would be helpful. Transit connections through the park and into Centennial Campus and NCSU's main campus as well as the downtown core is also a possibility, and in the long term a rail line that runs through the campus could be incorporated.

Back to Top

Why doesn't the FDDP Park Plan offer more detail

Friends of Dorothea Dix Park (FDDP) doesn't really take a stand on a particular plan for the details within the park. That is well beyond our scope. At this time FDDP is working toward a commitment to preserve the land for public use and developing a financial plan to show the legislators that this great vision is feasible.

We expect that the design of a master plan with public input and expert assistance would be the first step and that the park development would take place over many years.

Back to Top

How can the goals of preservation, parkland, and office space come together as a cohesive whole?

FDDP only recommends preservation of the historically significant buildings.  It is unlikely that FDDP or Dix306 will be deciding which buildings those are.  Since we want no additional square footage of building footprint in the historic core the removal of "non significant or non conforming" buildings would open up space for new buildings built in an historically appropriate style to be built in the historic core and in such a way as to maintain the campus look and feel.  The historic core should contain some "destination" for park visitors.   In addition, the DHHS offices would occupy a large portion of the buildings and could support a couple of restaurants and cafes that could be grouped around a central square with several of the park venues.  As there are more park visitors a transition to meet the needs of the public would likely occur.  The tree lined roads already connect the historic core to the other areas of the park, and it is likely that transportation to and through Dix via CAT and possibly Wolfline would connect Centennial Campus, the NCSU main campus, the convention center and the downtown core along with its parking areas to the park.

Back to Top