Re-imagining Central Prison and The Governor Morehead School’s 81.2 Acres, Events on May 18-20

From my inbox to yours. Here’s a pretty good looking series of events being held by the AIA Triangle. We’ve speculated some about what the land consisting of the state’s Central Prison and Morehead school could be. Here’s an opportunity to get into that with the design community.

For more information, go to

Connections 81.2 event on May 18-20.

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  1. I would totally be a proponent of trading the upper section of the Dix property for development if the lower section could be connected to the prison property, Morehead School and Pullen for a giant central park experience. Doing so would connect DT to NC State through parkland and make park resources more available to a wider cross section of Raleigh residents by foot. To further strengthen the connection, I’d support submerging a section of Western to create a physical connection of the parkland to the N & S of the boulevard, without having to cross a busy street. If that was too impossible, I’d support a more meandering section of Western to slow the traffic through the park with a significant median to enable crossing of Western by foot, one direction at a time.

  2. If we’re really talking about ambitious plans, one think that a lot of great cities have that Raleigh lacks is a body of water that “frames” it, so to speak. Think of the Hudson and East Rivers, or the San Francisco Bay, or the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. If we used the Morehead/Prison site to build a giant reservoir and line it with park space and mid-rise mixed use development, it would be an instant destination for the entire region and a great link between downtown and Dix. That might seem nuts, but why not think big??

  3. Thinking out loud and very outside the box… what about a dense grid of mixed use construction inside some form of a pedestrian/bicycle only zone.

  4. I would love to see a Sports Complex ! A combination baseball / football stadium ! Minor league baseball with The Atlantic League & NC State baseball ! The Atlantic League is a AA level independent 21 year old league that is not governed by the 35 mile rule ! When NC State played UNCC at Charlotte’s minor league stadium , 7400 fans attended the game ! NC State’s stadium seats 3000 fans ! NC State / ECU , UNC , Duke games would attract a strong fan base each game ! The Atlantic League would play 70 plus games a year ! Home games for Shaw football would be great in the fall ! A mixed use development built around the complex with also affordable housing as part of the project ! Also I was hoping to see FNB Tower groundbreaking today !

  5. @John532 A proposed land bridge from Dix park over to Pullen park has been suggested by Michael Van Valkenburgh (Dix Park designer) and I think it’s going to happen. I hope they are present at these meetings. Here’s an example from their website:

  6. @Evan. Yeah, that functions the same way as a submerged road. It creates a land connection between the two sides. Very cool.

  7. Water, water, water…downtown Raleigh needs a pond, lake, river or other such wet area. Of course we would probably end up with a large “marsh”…Lol

  8. Yes John, I know what it is and how it functions, thus I shared that it’s already in the plans. Not confirmed of course, but the designer for Dix has specified and built them before, so it is likely

  9. @Evan. It was not my intention to insult your intelligence by presuming that you didn’t understand how it functions. I only mentioned it for the benefit of everyone that your photo represented the function that I was talking about. :-)

  10. Read the N&O article about this yesterday, and while the idea of hosting a design charrette on redeveloping this area sounds really cool, the whole thing seems extremely ambitious at best. I mean, unless the prison is crumbling–which I don’t think it is–is the state really planning to relocate it? Talk about expensive. And if not, what’s the point of this whole exercise?

    That said, my idea would be to use part of that space for a relocated Heritage Park. The current HP land is way more important to DTR’s fabric than the prison land, IMO, and I’d rather see that as a focus for planners. Plus, it directly connects Dix to DTR. In a perfect world, I would:
    A) Relocate HP to prison/Morehead land.
    B) Ditch the cloverleaf @ MLK and McDowell/Dawson, freeing up valuable real estate.
    C) Tunnel West St. under tracks to make one continuous bike connection from Crabtree Creek, down Capital, through Devereux, down West St. “cycle track” and onto Dix.
    D) Use the newly created site for a relocated arena or ballpark (pipe dreams) with cycle track or greenway running by on its way to Dix.

    Hopefully those planning 81.2 know more than we do about the prospects of relocating the prison!

  11. @Evan Actually there does appear to be a landbridge proposed over Western on page 108 of the document you posted. (Not really mentioned but definitely shown in the image)

  12. @ Will , There is a chance that The N & O will have a article in the near future concerning a possible future Sports Stadium Complex ! That’s all I can say ! Sorry that I can’t say anymore !

  13. @timothy ahh yes I missed that. I tell you though, I am super excited for the level of transformation that is outlined in that document. The Rocky branch stream realignment and restoration is going to be a massive undertaking!

  14. @Will, my thoughts exactly. I ride by the prison every day on the way to work and I always think there must be a way to turn that into something valuable in a city center (not to get into a prison discussion, but in the city center it makes no sense. Of course it was the edge of town when it was built). I just can’t see the state agreeing to relocate the prison considering how much a fight they put up on Dix. The ONLY way that gets redeveloped is if the state itself, by selling or developing the property, makes enough money to build a replacement prison elsewhere. Land in Bertie County is pretty cheap and they could use the jobs out there I’m sure, so I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I doubt anything occurs on this property until the money is just too much for the city to pass up.
    And I really don’t understand the push to relocate the Morehead School. It’s not a drag on the community the way the prison is, and it would have to be moved to a location near the current campus, at least somewhere in the campus. A substantial proportion of the families who have students accepted to Morehead end up relocating here, which can only happen in an area with plenty of jobs. Bertie might be a great place for a prison, but we have to keep Morehead in a major metro and unless the facility is really substandard and needs to be rebuilt anyway, I really don’t see the justification for moving it.

  15. I can’t wait until we get to “reimagining Triangle Town Center…what the hell were we thinking?!”. Really though….you gotta love how a City just goes around effing sh&^ up for 50 years, and then all of sudden is like “Wait! This here underdeveloped doughnut hole…maybe we should think about this jus n case!”. To be sure, some nice progress is being made in places like buffers along Pigeon House, densification of North Hills and improved pedestrian nature of Hillsborough St but these things amount to about 1% of things on my list of wholesale changes I’d make were I ya know, God, or Mayor or something.

  16. @Dwight. Interesting news regarding a possible sports complex. I wonder if this potential announcement has any connection to the Cargill plant being recently demolished?

  17. @Stew @Dwight Aw man enough with the teasers. Are we talking moving Heritage Park residents to a new affordable housing complex at Cargill and opening that land up for a ballpark? Because that would be the best location for a ballpark in the entire city…imagine the views of the skyline from there.

  18. I give 10 thumbs up to removing the absolutely stupid interchange at MLK/Dawson-McDowell. “Oh congrats, you made it 1000 feet closer to downtown because of this extra expensive interchange we had to put in. Plus it ensured we tore down as many minority homes as possible!” When taking that, they should also reconfigure the S Saunders light situation by Ray Price by eliminating the current light, and using the old S Saunders and Prospect St as a jug handle and reconnect Green at Grissom similar to how it was pre-Dawson/McDowell connector (it was Green/Hammell). It needs to feel like a walkable neighborhood here and not a da*ned expressway. You finish that off by putting in wide sidewalks from the new Green/Grissom to South Street, including connections to the greenway along Rocky Branch.

  19. @Kevin I agree on HP being the prime location for something like that. Right now, it’s just a pipe dream for me. I originally thought the Exploris/gateway lot would be the best, but that’s out now.

    Even if Raleigh never scores a baseball team, I think the Hurricanes would be wise to (one day) relocate downtown instead of renovating PNC. People point to the team’s poor performance as the reason for low attendance, and that can’t be discounted, but I would argue that PNC’s location is as much or more of a reason for smaller crowds.

    I get it, tailgating is kind of a thing for us southern hockey fans, but for me, the whole experience of leaving town to go to a big-league game is kinda backwards. I’d much rather walk to an R-line or some other satellite station and shuttle INTO downtown to see a game than to head out to the burbs. Plus, I’d feel a lot better the next morning at work if I didn’t have to sit in my car for an hour after the game. And think of the experience for those living in DTR? A major entertainment venue that’s walkable!! Concerts, games, monster truck rallies haha! Seriously though, I think you’d see the kind of ancillary development that you’ve seen around the DBAP in Durham (which, because of its location, has not happened in 20 years around PNC). Tom Dundon has already made it clear he’s all about improving fan experience; here’s hoping he has the power–and desire–to look downtown one day.

  20. @Mark I agree 100%. The idea of that interchange was outdated by the time they built it.
    @Will I agree 100% too! We made a big mistake putting PNC out there. NCSU wanted it near the football stadium I think. It’s time to admit the mistake and build it downtown. I think some profitable ownership of the building goes along with the Hurricanes ownership so it may not be easy but would clearly be a good move for the city and downtown.

  21. @ Kevin , Honestly , I don’t mean to tease ! I can say this ! There is a Raleigh Group that is working mighty hard to bring a Sports Stadium Complex to Raleigh ! But , It is not a done deal ! I’m sure hoping! Fingers Crossed !

  22. @Will I agree with you. Having a downtown arena greatly improves impulse ticket buys, for lack of a better term. Right now, getting to PNC is an event in and of itself. I don’t think too many people will shed tears over their lack of tailgating if they can hit up the Warehouse district or Fayetteville St. before a game. The Durham Bulls don’t have any problems getting people into DBAP, for a minor league team, no less.

    @Dwight I am very intrigued. My absolute pipe dream is MLB…we have the market size to support it, and the league has a big gaping hole geographically between DC and Atlanta. But that’s a big lift, I won’t venture to pry the info out of you any further, but my guess right now would be moving the Carolina Mudcats out of Zebulon and into a DT Raleigh ballpark…

  23. @Kevin , There are still some issues to be worked out but if they are , it would be AA Level Atlantic League Team ! High Point will have a team next season !

  24. @Jeff, I believe it’s all in the General Assembly’s hands. If they come to terms with Kane and Malik, we have a really good case. Until that gets figured out, we’re an afterthought.

  25. @Kevin I agree with basically all of your points, I think we’re sharing a brain! I would definitely be making som “impulse” trips to games if it were downtown. PNC takes some planning, and $$ to park.

    As far as baseball goes (my favorite sport), my preference would be for a Mudcats relocation. I love the idea for MLB, but I just don’t see it happening with other markets far ahead of us in expansion/relocation pecking order. Montreal, Portland, San Antonio, Austin, even Mexico City would probably be considered ahead of us. The only thing that changes any of this would be a winning bid for Amazon or Apple HQ2. Which, incidentally, would probably win the MLS bid for us, IMO.

    I think a third MiLB team from Atlantic League would saturate the market, which is why I would prefer the Mudcats.

  26. Those rules have a tendency to go away if you throw enough money at it. It’s absurd, because W-S and Greensboro are within 35 miles from each other and both have successful minor league teams. The Triangle has more people and disposable income than the Triad…the Mudcats already average 2,900 a game in the middle of nowhere. I agree that an Atlantic League team might saturate the market too much. Those indy leagues are pretty touch-and-go anyway…franchises pop up and disappear sometimes overnight. I’m sure I’ll go to a few games if they do build a ballpark in Raleigh, but I wouldn’t get too attached to it.

  27. @ Will , The High Point feasibility study was for High Point , Burlington , Greensboro , & Winston Salem & the study was positive for High Point ! Raleigh’s study will be on The Mudcats , Durham , Holly Springs & a Raleigh Team !

  28. Yeah, seems like that 35 mile “rule” would never hold up if challenged legally. I can’t think of many businesses that are able to restrain competition like that. Must be nice.

  29. New Plans submitted on the city’s website for a new bar on Glenwood South.

    SR-42-18 is the former feelgoodz store at 612 Glenwood Ave.

    The group behind the Milk Bar and Anchor Bar will be the new owners. Plans show a pretty cool rooftop patio addition.

    Went with an original name “612 Glenwood Ave bar & night club.”

  30. Here I am again, pushing for Raleigh to start the push for an MLB franchise when expansion happens in 3-5 years.

    Now that this piece of land is up for grabs, it would be the perfect time to layout a stadium and a small ‘tobacco campus’ type district around it….

    Before you dismiss it, consider these things…

    – Charlotte is already in the running for an expansion team according to MLB and in fact they are one of the leaders in the early going . So the question now becomes, if they are considering Charlotte, why aren’t they considering Raleigh?
    ( )

    – Raleigh is only 2nd (trailing by 0.032%) to Charlotte in largest TV market in the nation w/out an MLB team. Raleigh is also the fastest growing metro area without a baseball team in the nation. There are actually 5 markets smaller than Raleigh’s that currently have MLB teams.

    – Those 5 markets that are smaller than Raleigh, 4 of them are in the top 7 when it comes to per capita attendance. Meaning Raleigh would fit right in as an emerging market with serious growth trajectory, who from the start would likely run a high per capita attendance rate.

    – Population wise, the greater Charlotte area came in at somewhere near 2.5 million. The greater Raleigh area came in at around 2.2 million. Now, what has happened over the past 2 years? I’ve read that Raleigh is growing slightly faster than Charlotte, but I can’t find that data at the moment. Either way, If a population of 2.5 million could support an NFL and NBA team then 2.2 million could surely support an MLB team.

    – MLB in Charlotte would have pro-sport competition, in Raleigh it wouldn’t have much. NFL Football starts in early Sept giving it 2 months of overlap. Basketball Goes from Nov- June, giving it 3 months overlap. Raleigh only has hockey which has less than 1 month of overlap.

    -Corporate money/boxes. Charlotte has the banks, Raleigh has the Tech. I don’t see why either city would have trouble selling their boxes to the corporations.

    – Speaking of money:
    Wake County Median income= 66k
    Mecklenburg County Median income = 56k

    – The weather: This doesn’t separate Raleigh from Charlotte, but it does explain why the southeast needs a team. Go into avg temps in the area and what is the perfect night temps for MLB. Also, lack of rain in late summer means less postponed games

    -Demographics: MLB is keying on tech-savvy millennials to be their future fans ( and Raleigh and Durham find themselves on nearly every list of “tech friendly cities” while I’ve yet to see Charlotte make a Tech list.

    – Lastly, the 35 mile rule. I’ve asked on here numerous times for someone to produce that 35-mile rule in writing. I ask because I am nearly positive it’s not a rule that would hold up in a court of law. There are MANY instances where two minor league teams are closer than 35 miles apart and many where a minor league team is within 20 miles of an MLB team. So to me, if you want to shut down the idea of Raleigh getting an MLB team, it’s not enough to just quote that rule. Now, finally seeing that article, I’m as confident as ever that this rule is some backroom deal that in no way would hold up.


    Given all of this, I really, really hope Raleigh thinks bigger than an independent league stadium with this piece of land (or the old Cargill Mill land). The Triangle does need a team and maybe it can settle for something small if they lose out on MLS and MLB, but I sure hope they have a group that is ready to make a push to beat out Charlotte for MLB.

  31. And for clarity, the decision for expansion cities may not happen for 3-5 years. By the time those teams take the field it could be 5-7 years away. Looking at our growth trajectory in Raleigh and Durham alone, where would that put us?

    At that point, the argument about population and ability to support an MLB team would be irrelevant. With Chatham Park possibly done by that time, you’d be getting closer to the Triangle and Triad interlocking as a mega-region.

    And for the sake of it, here are some population numbers AS OF TODAY:

    The greater KC area – 1,842,965 million
    The greater Milwaukee area – 1,572,245 million
    The greater Cincy area- 2,114,580 million
    The greater Cleveland area- 2.077 million

    The Research Triangle region – 2.2 million

  32. Lastly, this plot 81 acres.

    Atlanta just built a new stadium and full on entertainment district for the Braves on 60 acres.


    ps. I don’t know how big the Cargill site is, but if you could move the train tracks and get up to 60 acres over there, then I feel that site is even better for in and out traffic (its right near 40) and it wouldnt congest downtown proper traffic during games, concerts or events.

  33. I’d be a lot more excited about Cargill’s prospects for something cool if it weren’t for the huge buffer of single family homes between it and DTR. It just feels like because of those neighborhoods, DTR will never be able to “reach” it, no matter how much it grows, and it will be kind of an island. There’s a similar–although to a much less extent–issue with the prison site in that it’s isolated from DTR by Boylan Heights. That’s why I’m such a proponent of Heritage Park. I guess my main “want” with downtown development in general is for it to be somewhat connected geographically instead of disjointed in separate nodes.

    PS, @Lou, I sure hope you’re right, that would be awesome!

  34. To those who keep up with, “but they’ll never move the prison” – if we don’t stop saying that, it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy! Dix Park isn’t where it is now because everyone kept whining, “Well, the state will never move out!” even though plenty of people thought so at one time.

    The creatures in the GA are still NC citizens, and if we can plant the seed that moving the prison will somehow benefit their own constituents and communities, it could catch on. There are plenty of rural NC communities that could really use the jobs that the prison, and its construction, would bring. I mean, right now Raleigh is totally hoarding good corrections jobs that could be vastly improving a depressed community somewhere else. Those evil, urban elites! (see what I did there?)

    Let’s keep talking about moving Central Prison like it’s going to happen and get more people talking about it. Dream big, then start looking at how to influence. The way the area is growing, I think the new residents are going to demand that this property become something more useful, as it should be.

    I don’t know yet how I feel about the GMS property, though. I need to research the current use of the property a little more to familiarize myself with it.

  35. @Lou I agree with you, MLB makes a lot of sense here. That said, I think a team would probably set up shop in RTP. That way they’d be close to all three Triangle cities and be able to develop a whole entertainment complex around the stadium like the Braves did.

    But if we’re serious about this, we should start a fan group.

  36. @Kevin. I’m 100% in. I have a group of very talented people who are on board and willing to use their skills to start this movement. We just aren’t sure where to start, who to contact.

  37. @Lou @Will post your e-mails on here and we can take this off the comment section and get to work!

  38. @ Maverick , Could you give me the link that you read concerning Mr. Kane’s future 30 story tower project ? Thanks for any help Maverick !


    After looking over the site it read 28 instead of 32. either way it will be the tallest in North Hills, so far. meaning with the addition property that extends to Wake Forest Road, I imagine at least Two or maybe three 30-35 story high rise to be Built. Either way, North Hills and Downtown are shaping up real nice.

  40. Cool, so any word from Amazon Bid ? I haven’t kept up to date on their final decision or is it still up in the air ? Just curious.

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