After months of grumbling by Republican legislators, a lease deal between former Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue and the city of Raleigh over 325 acres where a mental hospital once stood has been shelved until next year.
Gov. Pat McCrory's office on Tuesday provided The Associated Press a copy of an agreement the city and the governor's administration signed earlier this month which puts the existing 75-year lease for the closed Dorothea Dix campus on hold until next June. The city won't make lease payments or go ahead with development on what local officials envision as an oasis near downtown. Both sides plan to assess the land's environmental condition and market value.
One neighbor of Dix, Sonya Bridges, was "not too happy about that because people are still wanting employment. You know, whatever that will generate some income for families and jobs for people, that's what I'd like to see and I'd like to see that go ahead and take off."
Former Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue signed the $68 million lease with Raleigh officials last year just before leaving office. Republican senators earlier this year demanded the deal be scrapped. The deal was challenged by Republicans who lead both the state House and Senate.
The Senate voted to dissolve the city's lease immediately, saying it didn't represent the property's fair-market value and failed to protect health services as the property was originally intended. House leaders and McCrory wanted to wait until April for time to work out another deal. City officials threatened to sue if the lease was voided.
"We're going to let the governor and his people and the city negotiate," said Sen. Louis Pate, R-Wayne, who introduced legislation to scrap the lease. "I don't think anyone wouldn't like to see a park built. The stumbling block is how do we get there and how can the state protect its investment?"
McCrory is pleased that the agreement will give the state and Raleigh officials more time to negotiate an agreement that is acceptable for both parties involved, spokesman Ryan Tronovitch said.
The lease calls for Raleigh to pay $500,000 a year, plus 1.5 percent annual increases, in a deal worth $68 million over 75 years.
The site is named for Dix, an early mental health advocate who was instrumental in launching institutions in the 19th century, including the now-shuttered hospital on the property named for her. It stood there for 150 years.
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Question, comment or news tip? The WNCN main desk is happy to take your call and direct you to the appropriate department. Our station phone number is:919-836-1717 Our address is:1205 Front St. Raleigh, N.C.