Jan 24, 2023 - News

Protecting Dix Park's neighbors

Raleigh's skyline as seen from Dix Park. Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios

Dorothea Dix Park has a chance to become one of Raleigh's most prized public places, bringing open green space with sweeping skyline views to the heart of the city.

  • But the 300-acre park's promise is raising concerns that adding such a crown jewel could lead to gentrification and displacement of nearby residents.

Why it matters: The neighborhoods on the edges of Dix Park — like Fuller Heights, Caraleigh and Wheeler Park — are more diverse and have lower household incomes than Raleigh as a whole. This has made them especially vulnerable to displacement as Dix Park's planned amenities attract developers to the area.

  • Things are already transforming fast. The median sales price for a nearby home jumped 23% from 2019 to 2020, according to the Dix Edge Area Study.
  • And large projects like Kane Realty's Downtown South will add billions of dollars worth of offices, apartments and entertainment venues near the park.
A map showing the boundaries of the Dix Edge Area Study, courtesy of the City of Raleigh.

Driving the news: Tuesday, Raleigh City Council will review the Dix Edge Area Study — a 55-page report built off community feedback that aims to suggest ways to enhance the benefits of Dix and minimize harm to its neighbors. If approved, it would become an amendment to the 2030 Comprehensive Plan, which provides policy guidance around growth.

  • The report suggests using city-owned property for affordable housing projects, the creation of a festival to honor the surrounding communities and improve connections to downtown via better sidewalks, bike lanes and bus stops.
  • It also calls for creating a program to educate residents on predatory real estate practices.

Zoom in: The city council will also consider the rezoning of three city-owned properties in the area — 1500 S. Wilmington St., 15 Summit Ave. and 151 Water Works St. — to make them desirable for affordable housing projects.

State of play: Dix Park is currently surrounded by car-centric streets, like South Saunders, which races from downtown to past Interstate 40. The creation of new greenway connections and a bus-rapid transit line could help make the area more pedestrian friendly, the study notes.

  • The study suggests adding more sidewalks, improved bike and walking trails, and two new bus lines.

What's next: The Raleigh City Council can approve the plan Tuesday night or ask for more public input.


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