This article is part of a series on bills currently under consideration by the North Carolina General Assembly. You can also read about bills related to clarifying contempt laws and allowing hunting on Sundays here.
The Dorothea Dix Hospital property is a sprawling, 306-acre peice of land centrally located near downtown Raleigh. It lies quietly beside the Raleigh Farmers Market and Pullen Park, and not so quietly beside Central Prison. As a green, untouched, undeveloped piece of land nestled between Western Boulevard, Centennial Parkway, and Lake Wheeler Road, Dorothea Dix is valuable and recently became available for sale to the highest bidder.
The hospital survived the Civil War, two world wars, and covered three centuries.
Spanning centuries, the history of the Dorothea Dix Hospital is vast. The hospital began as legislation when “in 1825 a resolution had been passed requesting information needed to plan for the establishment of a ‘lunatic asylum.’” As always, the legislature was slow to act, but eventually, on February 22, 1856, the hospital admitted its first patient (he was “suffering from ‘suicidal mania’”). The hospital survived the Civil War, two world wars, and covered three centuries, but in September 2010, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced that it would close Dorothea Dix Hospital.
Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane was quoted by WRAL News as saying, “it’s a very fair deal.”
The Dorothea Dix Hospital began as legislation and it will most likely end as legislation. On Thursday, March 26, 2015, Senate Bill 705 was filed with Senators Pate (R-Lenoir, Pitt, Wayne), Tucker (R-Union), and Hise (R-Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Yancey) sponsoring the Bill. Senate Bill 705, also known as “A Bill to Ensure Fair Sale of Dorothea Dix Property,” seeks to establish guidelines for the proposed sale of the Dorothea Dix Property. Most notably, the Bill would establish a minimum acceptable bid price of $52 million.
Presumably, the floor was set at $52 million in response to the deal reached by Governor Pat McCrory and the City of Raleigh. The agreement between the State of North Carolina and the City of Raleigh requires the city to pay $52 million. The agreement would then lease roughly 90 acres back to the State for a ten-year period for $1 per year, plus an additional 26 acres and 1.5 acres of parking areas for 25 years for another $1 per year. Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane was quoted by WRAL News as saying, “it’s a very fair deal.”
If Senate Bill 705 becomes law, the Dorothea Dix property will again be available for purchase to the highest bidder, something that could change the landscape and layout of Raleigh forever.
It appears as though the State Senate disagrees with Mayor McFarlane. Maybe the Senate thinks the deal is not fair, or maybe it wants the market to prove how fair the deal really is, either way, if Senate Bill 705 becomes law, the Dorothea Dix property will be available for purchase to the highest bidder, something that could change the landscape and layout of Raleigh forever.