Story: “Imagine Dix” by Bob Geary
A greenway (below right) that follows Ricky Branch Creek runs across the front of the Dorothea Dix campus, opening up to the hillside known as “The Grove” at the foot of the original hospital complex. From the top of the hill (below left), downtown Raleigh is less than a mile away. There’s no debate about the front of Dix: Every plan keeps it as open space, and most have a pond.
The Hospital Grounds
The core of the hospital campus is a collection of buildings in various states of repair (like the Brown Building, below right), bounded on the back by railroad tracks that connect downtown Raleigh to the State Farmers’ Market and points south. ULI’s plan would redevelop all of it and develop the adjacent Big Field, too. The Friends of Dix plan would preserve historic hospital buildings but keep the Big Field and the open land at the back of the campus for active park uses, using the railroad bed (below left) as a trolley line.
The Big Field
The “Big Field” is just that54 acres of open space that could be the hub of Dix Park or the heart of a new mixed-use neighborhood. This is the part of Dix where the two sides clash.
The west side of Dix campus includes the part of Spring Hill that NCSU didn’t want (including this abandoned house, below) and the flat land below it that Raleigh once used as a landfill. The old landfill is unstable as a construction site, but is suitable for soccer fields. Every park plan includes fields on the landfill area. ULI’s proposal is for NCSU to contribute some of its Spring Hill propertythe part right next to the landfillin exchange for development rights to the “Big Field.” Friends of Dix Park think that’s a good deal for NCSU, bad for Raleigh.