One thing people really enjoy about our area is the easy access to greenspace. Parks and natural areas are a great way to relax, find some peace and decompress (check out our list of some great ones in the area). They’re also great places for all sorts of activities and events that bring the community together. Our area has been investing to expand our urban parks and innovate to create a little something for everyone.
Two important projects currently underway are Dorothea Dix Park bordering Downtown Raleigh and Cary’s Downtown Park. Fuquay Varina also has big plans for transforming Hilltop Needmore Park a bit down the road.
Dorothea Dix Hospital opened as the first psychiatric hospital in North Carolina in 1856. It remained in use until 2012 and is now the site of Raleigh’s largest city park. Part of the expansive space offers one of the best views of the city skyline along with a lot of area to roam and relax. The park is currently open for visitors and is used as a space for events and festivals. However, much bigger things are to come as the city moves forward with its masterplan to take the park to another level, creating a space that balances pastoral and active landscape while creating something for everyone. The plan was adopted in 2019 after development from a team of consultants and input from over 65,000 area residents. A proposed land bridge will make it easily accessible via walking and biking from downtown and other nearby areas.
The plan aims to transform the space into a multiuse destination by breaking it into different unique sections including a botanical garden, sports fields, an amphitheater, water features, natural habitats for local flora and fauna and a cultural center and restaurant in the restored hospital buildings. Check out this video for more information.
Right now, the project is in the planning stages of implementing Phase 1. In Phase 1 developers will create a land bridge over Western Boulevard, build the plaza and play area, enhance Rocky Brand Creek and restore the historic entry and buildings. Check out the full implementation plan.
The three Master Plan principles are Open Up and Connect, Build from What is There, and Offer Something for Everyone.
Cary has been working hard to constantly improve its already charming downtown area while keeping what has made it so nice. A new library opened in 2019, replacing a smaller building from 1977. Behind the library Cary Downtown Park is currently under construction. The seven-acre space will have a massive lawn for lounging and events, a raised “sky walk,” water features, several natural areas filled with plants and trees, sports courts, a restaurant and bar, a dog park, a performing arts venue and more.
The first stage of the park, the fountain and plaza that borders Academy Street and the library, has already been completed and is open for visitors. Once the rest of the park is finished it will be a fantastic area for all sorts of activities right in the heart of Cary. The town plans to use the park for a variety of programing including art exhibitions, arts and crafts classes, performances and concerts, cardio and fitness classes, book clubs, story time programs and movies. The park is slated to fully open in the Summer of 2023 and anyone curious can also check out the 3D model plan in the library.
The park is already a nice greenspace to relax and explore but the town has plans to improve the expansive area and use some of it for a community center, senior center and elementary school. Much of the area will remain park space and officials are still deciding exactly what to put in and how to implement it. The plan is currently waiting approval from the community board.