With a bill making its way through the General Assembly to make a portion of the Dorothea Dix campus into a park managed by the City of Raleigh, neighbors of the property say they have high hopes for the 325 acres of land.
On Tuesday, the state Senate voted in favor of revoking a lease agreement between the city and the state in favor of a potentially more expensive lease for less land.
In December, the Council of State, under Gov. Bev Perdue, signed a contract to lease the Dorothea Dix property to Raleigh for $500,000 per year for 75 years with a 24-year renewal. However, Republican lawmakers raised questions about the deal and argued the state did not get fair market value for the property.
As a result, Senate voted 29-21 to revoke the lease signed in December and pursue a new lease that would allow the city to develop around 200 acres of the Dix property's 325 acres of land "at a fair market value" for use as a destination park.
Under the new agreement, "all revenues from leases of the Dorothea Dix Property [will] be held in a special fund for appropriation by the General Assembly for mental health purposes." The portion of the Dix property that the city does not lease can be used by the Department of Health and Human Services to house the consolidation of 2,500 DHHS employees working in Wake County.
"I like having this open land just across the street from my house," Richard Giroux, who owns a home in nearby Boylan Heights, said.
When Perdue signed the deal in December, Giroux and others thought the park was a done deal. "I think it's terrible that they want to go back on the agreement," Giroux, a 30-year resident, said.
Giroux says he understand that there is money to be made if developers were to get their hands on the property, but he says it "would be a shame."
"To be able to have the areas of green like Pullen Park this way -- and Dorothea Dix to the south -- it's just a wonderful thing for a city that's growing like Raleigh to be able to preserve," Giroux said.
Owners say whatever happens with the lease, their property values will likely increase. But for many renters in the area, increasing property values isn't exactly a welcome change.
"I'd probably have to move," renter Michael Reid said.